• Jeollabuk-do

    Baekjangam Hermitage – 백장암 (Namwon, Jeollabuk-do)

    Hermitage History Baekjangam Hermitage is located in Namwon, Jeollabuk-do to the west of Mt. Seoryongsan (1,073 m). Baekjangam Hermitage is a hermitage that belongs to the neighbouring Silsangsa Temple. The name of the hermitage is derived from Baekjang, who was a disciple of Master Majodoil (709-788 A.D.). While we know when Silsangsa Temple was built, which was in 828 A.D. by the monk Hongcheok (?-?), it’s unknown when Baekjangam Hermitage was first established. After Silsangsa Temple was destroyed by fire in 1468, Baekjangam Hermitage became a temple until 1679, when a fire also destroyed Baekjangam Hermitage. The hermitage was later rebuilt in the early 1800’s. Once again, a fire destroyed…

  • Gyeongsangnam-do

    Hongjeam Hermitage – 홍제암 (Hapcheon, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Hermitage History Hongjeam Hermitage is located in the heart of Gayasan National Park just outside Hapcheon, Gyeongsangnam-do. The hermitage is directly associated with the famed Haeinsa Temple. The hermitage was first built in 1608 for the warrior monk Samyeong-daesa (1544-1610). The hermitage was built as a sign of appreciation for all of Samyeong-daesa’s efforts during the Imjin War (1592-1598) by King Seonje of Joseon (r. 1567 – 1608). Samyeong-daesa would spend the remainder of his days at Hongjeam Hermitage. The name of the hermitage comes from the posthumous title bestowed upon Samyeong-daesa. The posthumous title Samyeong-daesa received was that of Jatong Hongje-jonja. This title was given to Samyeong-daesa by King…

  • Gyeongsangnam-do

    Boriam Hermitage – 보리암 (Namhae, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Hermitage History and Myth Boriam Hermitage is located on Mt. Geumsan (704.9 m) in the southern part of Namhae, Gyeongsangnam-do. Boriam Hermitage was first established in 683 A.D. by the famed monk Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.) near the end of his life. Wonhyo-daesa was drawn to this location because of the amazing appearance of the mountain. Wonhyo-daesa saw light emitting from the mountain. Wonhyo-daesa described this light as a “light beyond description.” So he named the mountain Mt. Bogwangsan, and he named the new temple Bogwangwa Temple. Boriam Hermitage gained famed as the site where General Yi Seong-gye (King Taejo), who would become the founding king of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910),…

  • Gyeongsangnam-do

    Haeseonam Hermitage – 해선암 (Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Hermitage History and Myths Haeseonam Hermitage is located in southeastern Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do in a deep valley fold north-east of Mt. Cheontaesan (631 m). Unlike all the other hermitages on this website, Haeseonam Hermitage is not Buddhist. Instead, it’s a shaman hermitage, which is made plain by the lack of shrine halls dedicated to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and the ample shrines and shrine halls dedicated to a wide assortment of shaman deities. According to the local mudang (female shamans), Haeseonam Hermitage was once a prayer site for hundreds of years where Buddhist monks studied. Haeseonam Hermitage was a place where locals and fortunetellers came and prayed, as well. Specifically, Haeseonam Hermitage…

  • Artwork

    Budo – Stupa: 부도

    Introduction When you first enter a Korean temple or hermitage, or even their grounds, you might see a row of strangely designed stone monuments that somewhat resemble headstones. In Korean, these are known as “budo,” or “stupa,” in English. Officially, they are known as “seung-tap,” or a “monk’s pagoda,” in English. So what exactly does a Korean Buddhist stupa look like? What are they for? And what are their symbolic meaning? History In Buddhism, a pagoda historically enshrines the remains of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). In Korea, however, a stupa contains the remains of a monk or nun. Stupas first began to appear in the late Unified Silla Dynasty (668-935…

  • Gangwon-do

    Hyuhyuam Hermitage – 휴휴암 (Yangyang, Gangwon-do)

    Hermitage History Hyuhyuam Hermitage, which is located in Yangyang, Gangwon-do, means “Rest and Rest Again Hermitage,” in English. The name of the hermitage is in reference to resting the mind from distracting thoughts and feelings like hate, jealousy, and conflict. Initially, the hermitage was nothing more than a single shrine hall; but in 1999, the popularity of the hermitage started to grow with the discovery of a rock that looked like a reclining Buddha. There are other seaside rocks at Hyuhyuam Hermitage that have significance, as well. There’s the Haesu Gwaneum rock that looks like a statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). This rock looks like it’s holding a…

  • Jeollanam-do

    Hyangiram Hermitage – 향일암 (Yeosu, Jeollanam-do)

    Hermitage History The coastal temple of Hyangiram Hermitage is located on the very southern tip of Dolsan-do Island in Yeosu, Jeollanam-do. Hyangiram Hermitage is perched in and among the cracks, crags and crevices of Mt. Geumosan (320.8m), which means “Iron Turtle Mountain,” in English. The hermitage was first founded in 644 A.D. by the famed monk Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.). It was here, at Hyangiram Hermitage, that Wonhyo-daesa had a vision of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Another interesting story pertaining to Wonhyo-daesa relates to a rock called Gyeongjeon-bawi, or “Buddhist Scripture Rock,” in English. This rock is precariously placed on top of other rocks to the rear of the Hyangiram…

  • Chungcheongbuk-do

    Sujeongam Hermitage – 수정암 (Boeun-Gun, Chungcheongbuk-do)

    Hermitage History Just south-west of the famous Beopjusa Temple in Boeun-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do is Sujeongam Hermitage. And like Beopjusa Temple, it’s beautifully situated in Songnisan National Park. Sujeongam Hermitage is one of twelve hermitages that’s located on the Beopjusa Temple grounds. Sujeongam Hermitage is believed to have been built around the same time as Beopjusa Temple in 553 A.D. by the same monk, Uisin. Unfortunately, very few records remain to tell about the hermitage’s history. However, records do exist stating that the hermitage had shaman shrine halls like the Sanshin-gak (Mountain Spirit Hall), Chilseong-gak (Seven Stars Hall), and Dokseong-gak (Lonely Saint Hall), as well as a Daeseon-bang (Great Meditation Hall) in…

  • Gyeonggi-do

    Yeonjuam Hermitage/Yeonjudae – 연주암/연주대 (Gwacheon, Gyeonggi-do)

    Hello Again Everyone!! This is Giuseppe with my second contribution to the site. Hope you enjoy! Throughout my years of living and traveling in Korea, I’ve always had a small collection of “comfort” places that I tried to get back to now and again, depending on where I lived. I appreciate the sense of intimacy that develops from this relationship with a place; getting to know some of the locals, enjoying a specific restaurant, finding hidden trails, knowing a place through the four seasons. Since moving to suburban Seoul, Yeonjuam Hermitage, and its spectacular Yeonjudae, perched on the edge of a sharp cliff, has been one of those places. The…

  • Gyeongju

    Seokguram Hermitage – 석굴암 (Gyeongju)

    Hermitage History Seokguram Hermitage on Mt. Tohamsan in Gyeongju houses the most famous statue in all of Korea. In English, Seokguram Hermitage means “Stone Cave Hermitage.” Not only is it a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 1995 alongside Bulguksa Temple, it’s also National Treasure #24. The artificial cave at Seokguram Hermitage was first constructed by Kim Daeseong in 751 A.D. However, it wasn’t completed until after his death in 774 A.D. It’s believed, at least according to the Samguk Yusa (“Legends of the Three Kingdoms,” in English), that Bulguksa Temple at the base of Mt. Tohamsan was built for his parents in his current life and that Seokguram Hermitage…