Waujeongsa Temple was first established in 1970 by the monk Kim Hae-geum. Kim was a displaced monk from the Korean War, so he built the temple to honour this displacement. The stated goal of Waujeongsa Temple is the reunification of the Korean peninsula. It’s also the birthplace and headquarters to the highly unique Korean Buddhist Nirvana Order. And Waujeongsa Temple is located in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do.
Waujeongsa Temple is located on the southern slopes of Mt. Eunesan (363.3m). You first approach the temple by passing through the gravel temple parking lot. The very first thing you’ll notice is the massive golden Buddha’s head, which is called a “Buldu,” in Korean. The head is perched next to an artificial pond. The wooden head is the largest of its kind in the world by standing eight metres in height. Because of its sheer size, the Buldu is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Past the artificial pond and the giant Buddha head, you’ll make your way to the rest of the temple grounds. The first site is a collection of pagodas that are both unique in style and meaning. These pagodas are made from stones from various religious sites throughout the rest of the world and reassembled to form the pagodas at Waujeongsa Temple. To the right of these pagodas is the temple’s main hall. The newly built main hall lacks the traditional dancheong colour scheme that makes Korean Buddhist temples so unique. Housed inside the main hall are a collection of five statues centred by Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). And to the right of the main hall is a twelve ton Unification Bell that is gold in colour. It was cast at the start of the Seoul Olympics in 1988.
Spread throughout the rest of the temple grounds are over three thousand statues which starts with the twelve diminutive zodiac generals that stand out in front of the main hall. They are joined to the left of the main hall by a contemplative bronze statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha).
A little further along, and up a gradual incline along the pathway, are a pair of ferocious Vajra Warriors. These statues help protect the entry to an artificial cave that houses a twelve metre long statue of a reclining Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). This statue is known as a “Wabul,” in Korean, and it was made from juniper trees from Indonesia.
To the right of this artificial cave shrine is a cathedral-like shrine hall that houses a Thai-influenced statue of the Buddha. The ornate hall is beautifully adorned with intricate stain-glass windows. And to the left of this hall are a collection of cairn-like pagodas that are reminiscent of the ones found at Tapsa Temple. You’ll make your way up a path that leads you past a peeling collection of Palsang-do (The Eight Scenes from the Buddha’s LIfe) murals. While slowly losing their battle with time, these murals are still intact enough to appreciate their beauty.
It’s in this area that you’ll also notice a semi-circle of stone that acts as a shrine for the Nahan. These five hundred statues are masterfully executed. A little further up the pathway, and you’ll see the final shrine hall at Waujeongsa Temple. This cave-like shrine hall is adorned with large pillars, swirling Bicheon, and a domed roof. I believe that a few of the Buddha’s sari (crystallized remains) are housed at Waujeongsa Temple inside this hall.
Admission to the temple is free.
How To Get There
There are two ways that you can get to Waujeongsa Temple from Seoul. The first is from Jamsil Station, Line #2. Take either exit #6 or #7 and board Bus #5600 or #5800 to Yongin Intercity Bus Terminal. Again, board a bus; this time, for Wonsam. Get off at the Waujeongsa Temple stop.
The other way that you can get to Waujeongsa Temple from Seoul is by catching a bus from Gangnam Station, Line #2. After going out exit #10, you can take either Bus #5001 or #5002 to Yongin Intercity Bus Terminal. Again, board a bus destine for Wonsam. And again, get off at the Waujeongsa Temple stop. All buses bound for Wonsam come at about fifteen minute intervals.
Overall Rating: 9/10
For its originality alone, Waujeongsa Temple gets a nine out of ten rating. There are very few temples in Korea like it from its massive golden Buddha head at the entry, to the thousands of statues spread throughout the grounds, to the patchwork of pagodas from around the world, to the paintings, and the cave shrine hall that houses some sari (crystallized remains) from the Buddha. You’d be hard-pressed to find a temple with such unique attributes.