• North Korea

    Kwanumsa Temple – 관음사 (Kaesong, Hwanghaebuk-to North Korea)

    Temple History Kwanumsa Temple [Gwaneumsa Temple] is located on Mt. Chonmasan near Kaesong, North Korea. The temple is named after Kwanum, or Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). And it should be noted that some of the spelling in this post will be based on North Korean spelling. This small temple is located between two mountains in a valley. The two mountains are Mt. Chonmasan (757 m) and Mt. Songgosan; and at the back of the valley, you’ll find Pakyon Falls. Kwanumsa Temple was first established in 970 A.D. by the monk Beopin, when he placed two marble statues of Gwanseeum-bosal inside a cave behind the temple. As for the temple,…

  • Gyeongsangbuk-do

    Beopheungsa-ji Temple Site – 법흥사지 (Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

    Temple Site History The Beopheungsa-ji Temple Site is located in eastern Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do. The Beopheungsa-ji Temple Site is backed by the Imcheonggak House; and according to Pungsu-jiri (geomancy/feng sui), the location is thought to be auspicious because of its south-facing location with a mountain to its back (Mt. Yeongnamsan) and a river (the Nakdong River) to its front. All that remains of the former temple, Beopheungsa Temple, is the Seven-Story Brick Pagoda at Beopheungsa Temple Site, which is National Treasure #16. Given that the temple site is located in Beopheung-ri in Andong, it’s assumed that the temple was named Beopheungsa Temple; thus, giving the area its name. It’s also believed…

  • Korean Buddhism Orders and Sects

    Won Buddhism – 원불교

    History of Won Buddhism Won Buddhism is a modern religion founded in the 20th century. And it’s either a new syncretic religion or a reformed Buddhism. Won Buddhism means “circle” in English. Or more precisely and literally, “Round Buddhism.” The stated goal of Won Buddhism is for people to realize the innate Buddha nature in all of us and to help save other sentient beings by serving them. That’s why an emphasis is placed on the interactions we have in our daily lives. Won Buddhism was first founded by Pak Chung-bin (1891-1943). He was known as Great Master Sotaesan. And he attained enlightenment in 1916. Initially, Sotaesan didn’t specifically set…

  • Chungcheongbuk-do

    Mireukdaewon-ji Temple Site – 미륵대원 (Chungju, Chungcheongbuk-do)

    Temple Site History The Mireukdaewon-ji Temple Site is located in Woraksan National Park to the northwest of Mt. Poamsan (963.1 m) in Chungju, Chungcheongbuk-do. As the name of the temple site hints at, Mireudaewon-ji Temple Site was built for the worship of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). Unfortunately, there is no specific historical records about when the temple was first founded and when it was later destroyed. However, from various archaeological digs and speculation, it’s assumed that the temple was first founded between 901 and 937 A.D., and it was later destroyed in 1230 by the invading Mongols. The temple was later rebuilt after its destruction during the early Joseon Dynasty…

  • History

    The Repressed – Colonial Korea (1910-1945)

    The Japanese annexation and colonial rule over Korea is one of the darkest moments in Korean history. Not only did the Korean population suffer terribly as a whole, but this suffering was mirrored in every facet on Korean Buddhism. Colonial rule by the Japanese began in 1910 and continued until the end of the Pacific theatre campaign of World War Two in 1945. With the ushering in of colonial rule in 1910, it brought to an end the five hundred years of Joseon Dynasty rule (1392-1910). The repressiveness that befell Korean Buddhism during the Joseon Dynasty would continue during Japanese colonial rule. Japan attempted to suppress traditional Korean Buddhism for…

  • Gyeongsangnam-do

    Seongdeokam Hermitage – 성덕암 (Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Hermitage History Seongdeokam Hermitage is located in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do. More specifically, it’s located on the north-eastern slopes of Mt. Daegoksan (516.8 m). Seongdeokam Hermitage was first built in 1933 by the monk Baekyongseong – 백용성. The hermitage was built for the well-being of local fishermen and townspeople, which makes sense, since it’s located so close to the Masan harbor. Currently, Seongdeokam Hermitage is home to ten different buildings, gates, and shrines spread throughout the entire grounds. Like most new temples, Seongdeokam Hermitage continues to expand and grow. Hermitage Layout After navigating your way down some local side-streets, you’ll finally be welcomed to Seongdeokam Hermitage by a three-in-one modern shrine hall.…

  • History

    Excess, Invasion and the Tripitaka – The Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392)

    Early Goryeo – 918-1000 At the end of the Unified Silla Dynasty (668-935 A.D.), there was a lot of political turmoil and chaos. As a result of this political instability, the Silla Dynasty was highly weakened and vulnerable. Specifically, the loss of control over local lords at the end of the 9th century led the nation into civil war. Under the rebellious leadership of Gung Ye (869 – 918 A.D.) and Gyeon Hwon (867 – 936 A.D.), they formed two independent states. Gyeon Hwon formed Hubaekje (meaning Later Baekje), while Gung Ye established Hugoguryeo (meaning Later Goguryeo). It was under these tumultuous conditions that Wang Geon, a subject of Gung…

  • History

    The Exporter of Buddhism – The Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.)

    The Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.) was a strong kingdom that existed for well over six hundred years. The Baekje Kingdom controlled a vast area of land at the height of its power. The Baekje Kingdom mostly controlled the western portion of the Korean peninsula from north of Pyongyang, North Korea down to the southern-most portions of modern day Jeollanam-do. It was founded by King Onjo (r. 18 B.C. – 28 A.D.) at Wiryeseong (present-day southern Seoul). Also, the Baekje Kingdom became a significant maritime power with political and trade relations with both Japan and parts of China. A full twelve years after Buddhism arrived on the Korean…

  • Gyeongsangnam-do

    Cheonbulsa Temple – 천불사 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

    Temple History Cheonbulsa Temple is located to the north-east of Mt. Yongcheonsan (544.7 m) in the eastern part of Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do. The name of the temple means “Heavenly Buddha Temple” in English, and it was originally constructed in 1974. Cheonbulsa Temple’s name refers to the energy of the temple that it gets from the heavenly realm of Tushita. When the head monk at Cheonbulsa Temple wanted to build a temple, he held a memorial service for one thousand days in a cave at Yaksuam Hermitage near Baekyangsa Temple in Gwangju. During this memorial service, the head monk received a divine revelation. In this revelation, he learned that he should find…

  • Busan

    Anjeoksa Temple – 안적사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

    Temple History Anjeoksa Temple was founded by Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.) in the first year of King Munmu of Silla’s reign in 661 A.D. to the west of Mt. Gamdimsan (308.4 m) in Gijang-gun, Busan. There is no early documented history about Anjeoksa Temple besides who founded it. With that being said, there is writing indicating that the temple was once named Unbongsa Temple. Also, there is architectural evidence at Anjeoksa Temple of a stone pagoda, roof tiles, earthenware, and more on the grounds, which points to the fact that Anjeoksa Temple existed at the end of the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.) and/or the start of the Goryeo…