Colonial Korea: Donghwasa Temple – 동화사 (Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do)


An overview of Donghwasa Temple in Daegu in 1932.

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Donghwasa Temple, which means Paulownia Blossom Temple,” in English, was first established in northern Daegu on the southern slopes of Mt. Palgongsan in 493 A.D. The temple was first constructed through the efforts of monk Geukdal-jonja. The name of the temple is linked to the temple’s creation story. According to legend, the name of the temple comes from Donghwasa Temple’s reconstruction in 832 A.D. At that time, and during the middle of winter, the wild paulownia trees bloomed all around the temple grounds. So it was at this time that the temple changed its name from Yugasa Temple to Donghwasa Temple. The reconstruction of the temple occurred because of the efforts of the monk Simji-wangsa. And all of this happened during the reign of King Heungdeok (r. 826-836).

The last of Donghwasa Temple’s major rebuilds took place in 1732. And the last major addition to Donghwasa Temple took place in the fall of 1992 with the addition of the thirty metre tall statue of Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha) to the south of the main temple courtyard. This statue of Yaksayore-bul was constructed in hopes of having the Korean peninsula one day reunified.

From the day of its reconstruction in 832 A.D., and throughout its long storied history, Donghwasa Temple remains one of the most important temples throughout the Korean peninsula. In fact, Donghwasa Temple was one of only four temples during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) to administer the civil service exam for monks. And even during the highly restrictive, Confucian led, Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Donghwasa Temple not only continued to flourish but it also continued to grow in size, as well. In total, Donghwasa Temple and its associated hermitages house nine Korean Treasures.

Donghwasa50 - 1916

The flagpole supports at Donghwasa Temple in 1916, which are Treasure #254.


The Iljumun Gate at the temple.

Donghwasa2 - Daeungjeon

The Daeung-jeon main hall in 1932, which is Treasure #1563.

Donghwasa3 - Daeungjeon

A look around its exterior walls.

Donghwasa4 - Daeungjeon

And a look inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.

Donghwasa5 - Geukrakjeon

The Geukrak-jeon Hall in 1932.

Donghwasa6 - Geukrakjeon

And a look around its exterior walls.

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The Donghwasa Temple grounds from 2005.

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A look up at the main hall during Buddha’s birthday in 2013.

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Buddha’s birthday in 2013.

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The 1992 extension as seen in 2013.

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A closer look at Yaksayore-bul during Buddha’s birthday.

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