Baekyangsa Temple – 백양사 (Jangseong, Jeollanam-do)

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 The beautiful scenery at Baekyangsa Temple in Jangseong, Jeollanam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Baekyangsa Temple is located in Naejangsan National Park in the northern most part of Jeollanam-do. It was first founded in 632 A.D. during the Baekje Dynasty. When it was first established, it was called Jeongtosa Temple. It was then changed to Baengmasa Temple. Finally, during the Goryeo Dynasty, the name of the temple changed to its present name: Baekyangsa Temple. The name of the temple, in English, means White Sheep Temple. This name refers to a legend from the Goryeo Dynasty where white sheep would come down from the mountains to listen to sermons. After listening, they gained enlightenment and were able to ascend to heaven. During Japanese occupation, the temple played a key role on the Korean peninsula. And currently, it’s the 18th regional headquarters for the Jogye Order. It has an important role in educating monks in the Jeolla area.

The walk up to the temple is one of the prettiest you’ll see at a temple. In fact, the temple is situated in one of the most scenic and beautiful locations in all of Korea: Naejangsan National Park. As you make your way towards the temple grounds, large red maples lead the way. You’ll pass by a dammed off area of a stream that flows down from the Naejangsan mountain peaks. During the winter, it freezes over with both the Ssanggyeru pavilion and the mountain range as a framing backdrop.

Around a bend in the path, and over a bridge, you’ll come to the Cheonwangmun Gate. Unusually, this gate doesn’t lead straight into the temple courtyard. Instead, you’ll enter from the side. The outside of the gate is adorned with a beautiful mural of the temple layout. As for the interior, there are some surreal looking Heavenly Kings. Finally, you pass by the two-story bell pavilion and the Uhwaru pavilion to gain entry to the temple courtyard. Immediately to your right is the temple’s main hall, the Daeung-jeon. The main hall was rebuilt in 1917 and the exterior walls have Nahan and Buddhist motif murals adorning it. Behind the main hall is a uniquely designed nine-tier stone pagoda. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar inside the Daeung-jeon is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by two slender standing statues of Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the right of the main altar hangs a descriptive painting of Dokseong (The Recluse). And rather uniquely, to the left, is a Nahan shrine dedicated to the Historical Disciples of the Buddha. Besides the seated statues of the Nahan, and just behind them, hang eight beautiful Palsang-do murals that describe the life of the Buddha.

In front of the main hall, and to the left, is a sectioned hall that is divided in two. The first shrine area is dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). Interestingly, and a first for me, the image of the Buddha is joined to seven images of the Chilseong statues with a golden string. The next shrine area to the left, but still in the same building, is the Josa-jeon, which houses numerous murals of former monks that once lived at Baekyangsa Temple.

Next to this unique hall is the historic Geukrak-jeon. The hall dates back to 1574, when it was built by the monk Hwaneung. While the hall is compact, it is rich with detail like the butterfly door hinges. As for the interior, and immediately when you enter the hall, you’ll be greeted by the large sized statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). Hanging on the right wall is the guardian mural, while in the back corner is a white-tigered mural of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). The only other hall on the temple grounds that you can visit is the rather long Myeongbu-jeon, which houses Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Underworld).

Admission is 2,500 won for adults.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Baekyangsa Temple, you can get there from the Gwangju Intercity Bus Terminal. Buses run from 6:35 in the morning until 19:50 at night. The buses leave at an interval of 60 to 80 minutes between buses, and the bus ride will last about an hour and twenty minutes.


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OVERALL RATING: 7/10. Without a doubt, the highlight to this temple is the Naejangsan National Park backdrop, where Baekyangsa Temple is located. The towering craggy peaks frame the temple with flowing streams to the east of the temple grounds. Also, the combination of halls that act as more than one shrine, as well as the historic Geukrak-jeon hall make for a beautiful outing in any season.

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 The trail that leads up to the temple.

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 The damned off stream with the beautiful mountains in the background.

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 The pavilion that overlooks the frozen pond.

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 The Cheonwangmun Gate at Baekyangsa Temple.

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 The mural of the temple on the Cheonwangmun Gate.

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 Inside the gate is a blue faced Heavenly King.

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 The bell pavilion and the Uhwaru pavilion you’ll have to pass by to get to the temple courtyard.

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 The Daeung-jeon main hall.

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 One of the more unique paintings that adorns the exterior walls to the main hall.

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 The triad of statues that rest on the main altar inside the Daeung-jeon.

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 The Nahan shrine to the left of the main altar.

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 The nine-tier pagoda behind the main hall.

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 The Chilseong-gak/Josa-jeon shrine hall.

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 Inside the very unique Chilseong-gak.

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 And a look at one of the walls with a dozen paintings of former monks inside the Josa-jeon.

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 A look at the Geukrak-jeon.

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 With beautiful butterfly door hinges.

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 The large sized statue of Amita-bul inside the Geukrak-jeon.

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 The Sanshin mural that takes up residence inside the Geukrak-jeon.

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 With the Myeongbu-jeon to the left of the Geukrak-jeon.

5 thoughts on “Baekyangsa Temple – 백양사 (Jangseong, Jeollanam-do)

  1. Hello, I would like to know more about the Baekyangsa Temple ( where nun/ chef Jeong Kwan stays) as I am interested in visiting this amazing teacher in this amazing place. Thanks a lot. Lulubel.

    • This text is addressed to whoever would have the intention to plan a trip to Baekyangsa Temple in Korea with the dream of meeting famous Netflix star Chef , the monk Jeon Kwan Sunim

      ⚠️ Finding your true self !

      “Templestay” site offers many ways and different temples in Korea to do so .”Baekyangsa” temple (at the top of their list ) offers two very tempting programmes :
      1 “Good everyday . Resting program” ( you already feel good !!!)
      2 “Experience of original Temple food and Culture with Monk”. An “experience of making temple food with Jeong-Kwan sunim for korean and foreigner”. ( sic )
      Jeong-Kwan Sunim !!!! the Chef/monk everybody wants to learn from ! Imagine, two days and one night experience. For nature and food lover , it would looks like “the” ticket for paradise ……

      The site also mention that ,even if you are required to arrive the day before not later than 15h00, this “experience will start only the day after arrival at 9h30 “.

      But, what the site doesn’t says is :
      That in fact the cooking experience by itself last less than two hours from the moment Jeon Kwan sunim shows up ( and in our case , she did after 11h00 am) .Two hours including a good half an hour introducing ourselves (we were around 40 people!) and 10 minutes of meditation …..
      That from the evening before, we are involved in some sort of Club Mediterranean activities ( why complaining, we have a Mala, 108 beads prayers bracelet, made by our own inspired hands, to bring back home !!!! ……..painting on silk atelier next year ?!?!? )
      That the staff is very unpleasant , and this is an euphemism !
      That you are only given a cigarette paper thick mattress to sleep on ! ( ouch …) in shared rooms allocated in a Chief Warrant Officer’s manners
      That the food at the canteen ( especially the breakfast) is more than average ( which, for an “experience of temple food” is relatively ironic. Unless…. ) .
      That the GO *monk would be busier taking appealing “v fingers” photos for the Temple website , Instagram and Facebook, than teaching us anything valuable about the temple life or philosophy !
      That no interpreter is provided . ( in our contingent there were Australians, Germans, Frenchs, Italians, Taiwanese, Singaporeans, Americans, Marocains, Chinese participants! ) . For the low quality jokes of the monk who was obviously in charge of ” occupying ” us, it was not too important, but for the super express two hours with Jeon Kwan Sunim it was more problematic. We were told the day of arrival that there had been a problem (?) with the interpreter ,so during the all stay, the monks asked other participants to translate ….And even if they were doing their best , it was not fair on them and on all other participants who came from far to hear and learn about what Jeon Kwan sunim had to say .

      Adding all this up , we decided that the end of the express Cooking experience would be our cue to cancel the rest of the stay and escape to find our true self somewhere else .
      The nature is absolutely remarkable there ,but the rest had such a disturbing and unpleasant commercial approach that it almost made the come back to the city something that was cynically more true !

      Making clumsy “tourists ” mimicking monks rituals at 5 O’clock in the morning has, at the best a folkloric feeling !
      Spending an hour in circle to learn how to hold the tea pot, or another hour making a pearl bracelet, had the strong feeling of ” let’s keep the kids busy!
      Same with the “prisoners” walk around the monument ( can’t even tell you about this monument as we couldn’t hear the participant ‘s translation !) at 6h00 am, in the dark and freezing cold waiting for the breakfast (!) to be ready (while the GO monk was playing with his phone …… )
      All these embarrassing situations created bounds with others participants and, let aside the beauty of the nature, this, will remain the only positive note of the stay !

      Thankfully, I took the opportunity to be in Asia to do this temple experience, but maybe some people came especially for it and I feel sorry for them, and for the people and monks in the temple who might also realise the commercial derive of these programs!

      As you can guess , I do not recommend this trip ………. unless you really want a bracelet !!!!!
      Wait for her to come to you , Jeong Kwan Sunim travels a lot around the world , at least, it will be only about her philosophy and cooking approach…. tapie

      *GO is for : Gentil Organisateur , french term for “vacation expert” at the Club Med ( person in charge of entertaining holiday makers with sports activities , craftsmanship ateliers or silly games ! )

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