Jinbulsa Temple – 진불사 (Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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Heunghwan Beach just outside Jinbulsa Temple in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located in eastern Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do close to the city’s airport, is the rather peculiar Jinbulsa Temple. Jinbulsa Temple is beautifully situated in rolling hills and just south of the East Sea.

While smaller in size, with only a handful of shrine halls to visit, Jinbulsa Temple is quite unique. As you first approach the temple through some neighbouring farms after hanging a right at Heunghwan Beach, you’ll arrive in a wooded enclosure that houses the temple courtyard.

To your immediate left is the visitors’ centre. It’s straight ahead that lays the three temple shrine halls that visitors can explore. The largest of the three, which sits in the center, is the unpainted main hall.

Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll be greeted by a peculiar interior. Resting on the main altar are three seated statues. The one in the centre is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). To his right and left are Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) who sports a colourful crown, as well as Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). The set is book-ended by two strangely sculpted dragon heads. To the right of the main altar rest row upon row of miniature statues of Seokgamoni-bul. It’s also in this part of the main hall that you find an older off-coloured guardian mural. To the left of the main altar are a pair of statues. The first of the two is a polished stone statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). He’s joined by another, more typical, statue of Gwanseeum-bosal. Rounding out the main hall is a beautiful mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal.

To the left of the main hall is another unpainted shrine hall. This shrine hall rests under a collection of pine trees. This shrine hall is the Sanshin-gak. Inside the Sanshin-gak hangs one of the strangest Sanshin murals I’ve seen in all of Korea. Sanshin himself is crudely painted, while the black tiger that accompanies him looks more like a dragon/dog combination than a fierce lion.

To the right of the main hall is the Chilseong-gak. It’s between the main hall and Chilseong-gak that rests a seated golden statue of Jijang-bosal. Once more, the Chilseong-gak is unpainted. Resting on the main altar hangs an older image of Chilseong (The Seven Stars). To the left of the main altar painting is a jade incarnation of what looks to be Gwanseeum-bosal. And to the right of the Chilseong mural is a golden statue of a figure that looks somewhat deformed in appearance.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Pohang Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take Bus #200 for 23 minutes, or 17 stops, and get off at the Dogu2-ri Maeul-hoegwan bus stop. From there, take the bus that says Donghae-jiseon or Ohcheon-jiseon. From either one of these buses, get off after 13 stops, or 16 minutes, at the Heunghwan-ri stop. You’ll need to then walk 2.2 km, or 30 minutes, to get to Jinbulsa Temple.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. Jinbulsa Temple is one of the more scenically located temples in Korea. It’s also one of the stranger ones, as well, with its odd Sanshin mural and some of the statues housed in the various shrine halls at the temple. While smaller in size, Jinbulsa Temple might be worth a look for something a bit outside the every day.

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The main hall and Sanshin-gak at Jinbulsa Temple.

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The unique altar inside the main hall.

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Gwanseeum-bosal and Mireuk-bul together inside the main hall.

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The Jijang-bosal mural inside the main hall.

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As well as this older guardian mural.

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A look at the unpainted exterior of the Sanshin-gak.

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Inside is housed one of the most bizarre Sanshin murals I’ve seen in Korea.

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A look across the main hall.

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The larger Jijang-bosal statue between the main hall and the Chilseong-gak.

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The statue together with the Chilseong-gak.

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The main altar painting of the Seven Stars.

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The unidentified, and ill-formed, golden statue inside the Chilseong-gak.

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Presumably Gwanseeum-bosal.

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And one more look at the local Pohang beach and the East Sea.

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