Colonial Korea: Beomeosa Temple – 범어사 (Busan)


Beomeosa Temple in northern Busan as it appeared in 1933.

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Beomeosa Temple, in northern Busan, is beautifully located on the eastern slopes of Mt. Geumjeongsan. First established in 678 A.D. by the famed Uisang-daesa (625-702 A.D.), Beomeosa Temple means “Fish from Heaven Temple,” in English. The name of the temple refers to the creation myth that surrounds the temple. And like so many temple myths in Korea, this one is an interesting one. According to legend, there is a water well with golden water inside it at the top of Mt. Geumjeongsan. Purportedly, golden fish rode a rainbow down from the heavens to inhabit this well. So it’s from its scenic location that Beomeosa Temple gets its name.

Beomeosa Temple became known as one of the ten great temples of the Hwaeom sect in Korea in history. Now, Beomeosa Temple belongs to the largest Buddhist order in Korea, the Jogye-jong Order.

At one point in its history, during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), Beomeosa Temple had a thousand monks that called the temple home. Later, during the Imjin War that lasted from 1592 to 1598, Beomeosa Temple was one of the first prominent temples to be destroyed by the invading Japanese. A decade later, in 1602, Beomeosa Temple was reconstructed. Shortly after its reconstruction, fire would destroy Beomeosa Temple, once more. So in 1613, Beomeosa Temple was rebuilt. And it’s from this date that the now historic temple buildings date back to like the Daeung-jeon main hall and the Jogyemun Gate.

In more recent years, and after Japanese Colonization, Beomeosa Temple would grow to be one of the sixth largest temples in Korea. It’s also undergone numerous renovations throughout the years like the reconstruction of the Cheonwangmun Gate in 2012 after an arsonist destroyed it in 2010. Also, the Boje-ru pavilion was rebuilt at the end of 2014, replacing a conference hall that blocked the once historic view towards the Daeung-jeon main hall.

In total, Beomeosa Temple houses four Treasures.

Beomeosa1 - Jogyemun 1933

The entry Jogyemun Gate in 1933.

Beomeosa3 - bojeru 1933

The outside view of the Boje-ru pavilion in 1933.

Beomeosa4 - bojeru 1933

A look at its architecture.

Beomeosa2 - Jongru bell p 1933

The Jong-ru bell pavilion in 1933.

Beomeosa5 - daeungjeon 1933

The historic Daeung-jeon main hall in 1933.

Beomeosa100 - three story 1916

The three tier pagoda in the main temple courtyard in 1916.

Beomeosa101 - seokdeung

It’s joined by the Seokdeung lantern in 1916, as well.

Beomeosa7 - daeungjeon

The craftsmanship of the Daeung-jeon main hall.

Beomeosa6 - daeungjeon

The main altar inside the Daeung-jeon.

Beomeosa8 - daeungjeon

A look around the interior of the Daeung-jeon.

Beomeosa9 - birojeon

The Biro-jeon Hall in 1933. This hall houses Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy).

Beomeosa10 - birojeon

A look up at some of the architecture on the Biro-jeon Hall.

Beomeosa11 - gwaneumjeon

The Gwaneum-jeon Hall. Housed inside is Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).

Beomeosa12 - gwaneumjeon

The latticework and eaves on the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

Beomeosa13 - myeongbujeon

The Myeongbu-jeon Hall in 1933.

Beomeosa14 - myeonbujeon

An up-close of the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.

Picture 225 - 2011

Beomeosa Temple in 2011.

CSC_4025 - 2015

The Jogyemun Gate during the spring of 2015.

CSC_4131 - 2015

The view from the Boje-ru pavilion down on the Bulimun Gate and the Cheonwangmun Gate in 2015.

CSC_4063 - 2015

The historic three tier pagoda and Gwaneum-jeon Hall in 2015.

DSC02069 - 2005

The Daeung-jeon Hall in 2005.

DSC02078 - 2005

And a look around the interior of the Daeung-jeon Hall in 2005.

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