The Story of…Beopjusa Temple

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Before the rain started to fall at Beopjusa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

In an all new segment on the blog, I thought I would give some of the back stories behind my travels to various temples and hermitages around the Korean peninsula ever since I started exploring them back in 2003. Some of the stories are funny, some are warm, and some are even absurd. So follow me as I go beyond the pictures, maps, and descriptions, as I explore Korean temples at their best.

During my summer vacation in 2011, I decided to visit a handful of temples on the northern end of the Korean peninsula. One of those temples was Beopjusa Temple in Boeun-Gun, Chungcheongbuk-do, and it’s the first story that really stands out.

Earlier in the day, in early August, we had already visited Buseoksa Temple in Yeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do. Pushing our luck, my wife and I decided to attempt to see Beopjusa Temple, as well. Keep in mind, we had passed by numerous nice hotels and the sky was blue when we left Buseoksa Temple.

When we arrived at Beopjusa Temple a couple hours later, and unbeknownst to us, there just so happened to be the provincial track and field meet at Songnisan National Park, which is where Beopjusa Temple is situated. At first glance, it didn’t seem all that bad. But not long after, when we went to book a hotel room, they were all sold out. So we went to the next: sold out. And the next: sold out. We got to the point where the only hotel left to us was this really run down motel, and they had one room left that had no beds. So for a marked up 60,000 won a night, we could sleep on the floor. I quickly nixed that one. With no other option but to see Beopjusa Temple and then find a hotel afterwards, we resigned ourselves to this fate.

So still with all our gear in our car, we decided to make our way towards Beopjusa Temple after having parked the car in the parking lot, which was a good 700 metres away from the admittance gate at Beopjusa Temple.

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The batteries are out, and I had to switch to the back-up camera at Beopjusa Temple.

 Making the most of the beautiful summer weather, we started to explore the temple grounds. After a couple of pictures, the battery on the camera was running low. Rooting through my camera bag, I was sure that I had packed the second battery pack. Wrong! It was nowhere to be found. So after our new camera ran out of its battery at the Palsang-jeon pagoda, and somewhat fortunately for me, I used the older camera that my wife thoughtfully brought with her. However, the quality of the pictures quickly went from an A+ with the new camera, down to a C- with the old.

And finally, to add insult to injury, the previously bright sky quickly became overcast and started to lightly rain. Believing we had enough time to explore the rest of the temple, since we had only seen about half of it, we pushed on. Near the end, and after seeing the lion-based lantern that dates back to 720 A.D., the sky opened up and the rain started to fall heavily. No more than two hundred metres into our sprint back to our car, we were already soaked. Finding a bit of respite under a bus shelter, I told my wife to wait with the cameras, as I made my way back to the car. When I finally did arrive at the car, it was like I had taken a shower with my clothes on.

After rescuing my wife, and still soaked, we still had to find somewhere to sleep. So while Beopjusa Temple is one of the most beautiful temples in all of Korea, nothing quite went right in my adventure to this revered temple.

To learn more about Beopjusa Temple, check out here.

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The clouds started to get stormy!

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