Naewonjeongsa Temple – 내원정사 (Seo-gu, Busan)


 The stunning golden pagoda that sits front and centre on the main altar inside the Daeung-jeon at Naewonjeongsa Temple in Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Lately, I’ve been exploring Busan more and more. With it being so close to where I live, and with literally thousands of temples to explore, it was a no-brainer. This past weekend, my exploration of Busan brought me to Naewonjeongsa Temple in Seodaeshin-dong, which is in close proximity to Busan Station.

Situated on Mt. Eomgwangsan, you’ll first approach Naewonjeongsa Temple up a mountain road. This is a bit strange, since the temple lies just above the busy Busan Station area. Finally arriving in the mid-sized parking lot, and having passed by the numerous mountain hikers along the way, you’ll first see the front façade to Naewonjeongsa Temple.

In the centre of the front façade are the Cheonwangmun Gate and the bell pavilion above it. Passing under the bell pavilion and through the Cheonwangmun Gate, you’ll finally enter the temple courtyard; however, before doing that, take the time to enjoy the paintings in and around the Cheonwangmun Gate. There are unique guardian paintings on the front doors, intricately painted Heavenly Kings, and the ceiling to the gate is beautifully adorned with both yellow and blue dragons and phoenixes.

Standing in the temple courtyard, and if you look back from where you first came, you’ll notice a bell pavilion that you can actually have a seat and take a rest in (or at least that’s what I saw a couple Koreans doing). While the bell is rather plain, the base to the large drum is demonic, while the cloud gong has a pair of Biseon dancing around it. But the real highlight is the large sized fish gong with an equally large sized red pearl in its mouth. To the right and left of the bell pavilion, and outlining the temple courtyard, are two rows of temple buildings. These buildings act as the monks’ quarters, visitors centre, and administrative office. There is even a nice row of Chinese plum trees to accompanying the building to the right.

Straight ahead is the true highlight to Naewonjeongsa Temple, which just so happens to be the main hall at the temple. Surrounding the exterior walls to the main hall are an assortment of paintings. To the rear are a colourful set of Shimu-do murals that are joined by beautiful Buddha and Bodhisattva paintings. But the real rare thing about these paintings are the Dokseong (The Recluse) and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) murals that are painted on either side of the main hall. I’ve never seen this before. Also, the main hall is surrounded by a mature bamboo forest.

The interior to the main hall is absolutely golden. This is emphasized by the large golden pagoda that sits on the main altar. This five tier pagoda is joined by two large sized statues of Moonsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the right are three golden reliefs. The closest one to the pagoda is Moonsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom). Next to this it is a relief of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom). And on the far right wall is a golden relief of the Yeongsan Assembly. To the left of the main altar are another three golden reliefs. The first to the left of the main altar is Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). Next to it is the guardian relief. And finally, there is another golden relief hanging on the far left wall of Yaksayore-bul (The Buddha of Medicine). In addition to all these reliefs, there are also two towers filled with miniature statues of Buddhas beside the main altar. As you can tell, this main hall is filled with amazing artistry.

To the right of the main hall is the Samseong-gak. All the artwork to this hall is housed inside it. The three most popular shaman deities, Chilseong (The Seven Stars), Dokseong, and Sanshin are housed inside this hall. They are all black in hue and well executed in design.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Naewonjeongsa Temple, you’ll first have to take the subway, line one, to the Seodaesin Subway Station, stop #107. From there, you can take a taxi up to Naewonjeongsa Temple. It’ll cost you 3,600 won, and the ride will take about 10 minutes (2.6 kilometres).

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OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. Just for the main hall alone, this temple deserves this rating with the large sized golden pagoda, six golden reliefs, and the very rare paintings of both Sanshin and Dokseong painted on the exterior walls. Additionally, all of the instruments inside the bell pavilion are unique in their own right. And top that off with the masterfully painted shaman murals, and you have more than enough reason to explore the little traveled Naewonjeongsa Temple near Busan Station.


The front facade at the temple with the sun peaking through the trees in the early morning hours.


 The Cheonwangmun Gate and bell pavilion at Naewonjeongsa Temple.


One of the main entrance doors at the temple with a unique guardian painting on it.


Just one of the elaborately painted Heavenly Kings inside the Cheonwangmun Gate.


The intricate ceiling of the Cheonwangmun Gate.


The first site that greets you to the temple courtyard.


The main hall, or the Daeung-jeon, at Naewonjeongsa Temple.


The beautiful and intricate main hall.


It’s pretty easy to spot the large golden pagoda that’s front and centre inside the main hall.


A better look at the golden interior.


Just one of the golden reliefs inside the main hall. Literally, the interior walls are lined with gold.


A contemplative visitor to the temple enjoys the scenic beauty of Naewonjeongsa Temple.


The very rare exterior walled painting of Dokseong (The Recluse) that adorns the main hall at the temple.


The main hall is also surrounded by mountains and this bamboo forest.


The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall at Naewonjeongsa Temple.


A unique view between the main hall and the Samseong-gak.


The Dokseong painting inside the Samseong-gak.


And a look at the Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) mural, as well.


The beautiful view from the Samseong-gak.


And a look from the main hall out onto the temple courtyard and the bell pavilion.


The massive fish gong inside the bell pavilion at Naewonjeongsa Temple.

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