Gyeongunsa Temple – 경운사 (Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The beautiful main hall and grounds at Gyeongunsa Temple in Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Gyeongunsa Temple is located on the west side of Gimhae and past a few plots of land that grow vegetables. Located at the base of Mt. Gyeongunsan is the temple by the very same name: Gyeongunsa Temple.

Up a long flight of stairs, and to the left of the temple’s visitors’ centre, are the main temple grounds at Gyeongunsa Temple. The temple grounds are well kept. Past a pair of stone lions lies the temple’s main hall. However, before you make your way up to the unique main hall, have a look at the tiny meditative pond to the left of the twin lions.

As for the main hall itself, it’s fronted by some amazing latticework. At the top of the latticework are a selection of various Bodhisattvas which include Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion), Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife), Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power), and Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom). At the base of the latticework are an assortment of water fowl including ducks and cranes. As for the exterior walls of the main hall, they are decorated with some unique Palsang-do murals. And up in the eaves, near the roof, you might be able to see a pair of monkeys near the hall’s nameplate.

Inside the main hall, and resting on the main altar, sits Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal and Daesaeji-bosal (The Power and Wisdom of Amita-bul). To the left of this triad stands Jijang-bosal. And to the right is the first V-shaped guardian mural I have seen in Korea.

To the right rear of the main hall, and up the embankment, are two shaman shrine halls. The first to greet you is the Yongwang-dang, which is spelled backwards as 당왕용. Inside this hall is one of the most original murals dedicated to Yongwang in all of Korea. Yongwang is very non-traditional, as he almost looks like a super-hero in the painting.

Slightly to the left of this shaman shrine hall is the Sanshin-gak. Housed inside this hall is another original painting, probably by the same artist, of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). With a unique headdress and two descriptively painted assistants, this painting is something to take your time and enjoy, as well.

The remaining structure to the rear of the main hall is the miniature replica of Dabo-tap pagoda from Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju. While only a third of the size, this newly constructed pagoda is just as intricate in its design. And the final building on the grounds that visitors can enter is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall to the left of the main hall. Rather strangely, there are only two paintings inside this hall: the Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) painting and the Chilseong (The Seven Stars) painting. But both are rather rudimentary in comparison to the other two highly elaborate murals to the north of the main hall.

HOW TO GET THERE: On the Busan/Gimhae subway line, you’ll need to get off at the Royal Tomb of King Suro, stop #17. After taking exit #2, you’ll need to walk to get to the bus stop, which is called Gimhae Library. After boarding the bus, you’ll need to take the bus for 6 stops and get off at the Oedong chuk hyeop stop. Walk 10 minutes towards Mt. Gyeongunsan and you’ll find the temple behind Gaya Elementary School.

OVERALL RATING: 5.5/10. While rather small in size, Gyeongunsa Temple packs a punch. This punch comes in the form of two amazing shaman murals and a highly decorative and detailed main hall. Enjoy the Yongwang mural at this temple, because you’ll probably never see anything like it at any other temple in Korea. Also, the amazing latticework is nearly unrivalled. This shaman packed Buddhist temple is a must for any Korean shaman aficionado.

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The long flight of stairs that await you at the entrance of the temple.

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The view from the pond towards the main hall.

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Some of the latticework adorning the front of the main hall. This, in particular, is Gwanseeum-bosal.

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 The wooden monkey that takes up residence up in the eaves of the main hall.

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Just one of the Palsang-do murals.

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The main altar inside the main hall at Gyeongunsa Temple.

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The path that leads up to the Yongwang-dang.

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Yongwang: The Super-hero!

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The Sanshin-gak.

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With the highly original Sanshin mural inside.

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 The view from behind the Dabo-tap pagoda replica.

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The Samseong-gak Hall to the left of the main hall.

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The rather rudimentary, and somewhat cross-eyed, mural of Dokseong.

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The view from the Samseong-gak towards the main hall.

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