Now and Then: Bongeunsa Temple


Bongeunsa Temple at the turn of the 20th century.

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Bongeunsa Temple was first founed in 794 A.D. by Yeonhui. Yeonhui was the highest ranking monk in the Silla Kingdom, and Bongeunsa Temple was originally known as Gyeonseongsa Temple. After the collapse of the Silla and Goryeo Kingdoms, Buddhism during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) was highly suppressed by Confucian leaders. However, by 1498, and under the patronage of Queen Jeonghyeon (1462-1530), the temple was reconstructed. It was also at this time that the temple was renamed to its present name: Bongeunsa Temple.

With continued support from the royal court, this time from Queen Munjeong (1502-65), Buddhism continued to thrive during the mid-16th century. It was at this time, from 1551 until 1936, that the temple acted as the headquarters for Seon (Zen) Buddhism in Korea. And from 1552-64, the temple was used as the centre for the Buddhist National Exam. It was also during this time, during King Myeongjong’s reign (r. 1545-67), who was the son of Queen Munjeong, that the temple was relocated to its current location. Formerly, the temple was located a kilometre southwest of its current Gangnam home.

In 1902, Bongeunsa Temple was named one of Korea’s 14 major temples; and then, in 1939, the temple was almost completely destroyed by fire. The remaining parts of the temple that weren’t already destroyed at this time were destroyed during the Korean War (1950-53). Ever since then, Bongeunsa Temple has undergone numerous renovations, reconstructions, and growth. It was only after Japanese Colonial rule that Bongeunsa Temple became subordinate to Jogyesa Temple and the Jogye-jong Order, which just so happens to be the largest Buddhist sect in Korea.

More recently, Bongeunsa Temple is in dispute with the Seoul municipal government over potentially relocating it from its posh Gangnam neighbourhood. Bongeunsa Temple is home to one treasure, Treasure #321, which is a Bronze Incense Burner with Silver-inlaid Design.

Bongeunsa Iljumun1950

The Iljumun Gate at Bongeunsa Temple in 1950.


A look into Bongeunsa Temple’s past.


Bongeunsa Temple a little more recently.


Bongeunsa Temple and its Gangnam neighbourhood.


And the modern 23 metre tall statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha).

Bongeunsa Temple – 봉은사 (Gangnam, Seoul)


The Serene Mireuk-bul at Bongeunsa Temple in Gangnam, Seoul.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Bongeunsa Temple was first established in 794 A.D. by the monk, Yeonhoei, and it was first known as Gyeongseongsa Temple. Later, in 1498, under Queen Jeonghyeon (1462-1530), the temple was refurbished and renamed Bongeunsa Temple. Originally, the temple was located a further one kilometer southwest of its present location, but was relocated during King Myeongjong’s reign (r.1545-1567). More recently, Bongeunsa Temple is in dispute with the Seoul municipal government in potentially relocating it from its posh Gangnam neighbourhood.

Bongeunsa Temple is nestled next to Coex on the south shores of the Han River. You first approach the temple past the Jinyeomun Gate that houses the rather peculiar looking Four Heavenly Kings. Just past this gate, and a little to the right, is a stupa field of past prominent monks from Bongeunsa Temple.

A little further up the paved pathway, and you’ll pass under the large sized Beopwang Dharma Hall. Straight ahead, and up a set of stairs, is the main hall that’s fronted by hundreds of white paper lanterns and a three tier pagoda. Just to the right of the main hall is the historic Seonbul-dang, which formerly held the monks’ exam. Presently, it looks to be the Gwaneeum-jeon, with a serenely crowned Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) sitting on the main altar. As for the main hall itself, and adorning the exterior walls, are two sets of paintings: the Shimu-do and Palsang-do murals, as well as a few scary guardian murals. Sitting on the main altar inside the main hall, which is almost always busy with devotees, are a triad of statues. Sitting in the centre is Seokgamoni-bul, who is joined on either side by Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha) and Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).

To the right of the main hall, and just past the Seonbul-dang, is the Jijang-jeon. The exterior walls to this beautiful hall are adorned with judgment murals, the Ten Kings of the Underworld, as well as Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Inside this hall, the walls are lined with murals dedicated to the Ten Kings of the Underworld. On the far left wall hangs a Gamno-do mural and sitting on the main altar is a green haired Jijang-bosal.

To the left of the main hall, and up a flight of stairs, are a collection of shrine halls. To the far right is the Yeongsan-jeon (Vulture Peak Hall). In the centre sits the Bukgeukbo-jeon, which is dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). And the remaining hall is the Yeong-gak, which houses murals dedicated to master monks.

But the crown jewel of the temple is the massive statue dedicated to Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). The 23 metre tall statue of Mireuk-bul looks out over the city of Seoul with a serene smile on his face. At the base of the statue are an assortment of Vajra warriors to help protect the Buddha from any harm. You can get some pretty amazing pictures of Seoul from this vantage point. The statue is fronted by an open Mireuk-jeon Hall.

HOW TO GET THERE: On the Seoul subway system, you’ll need to take Line 2 to Samseong Station and go out exit #6 to get to the temple. Once you’ve exited the station, you’ll need to go straight for 600 metres and turn left. From there, you’ll need to cross the street and travel an additional 150 metres to get to Bongeunsa Temple.

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10. For such a centrally located temple in the heart of Gangnam, Bongeunsa Temple is rather large in size. The temple houses a handful of temple halls that can be visited at any given time. Some of the more notable halls that should be visited are the Daeung-jeon and the Jijang-jeon. The views are spectacular, as is the massive statue of Mireuk-bul, that overlooks the downtown core of Seoul.


The Jinyeomun entry gate at Bongeunsa Temple.


The stupa field at Bongeunsa Temple.


The Beopwang-ru Pavilion.


A closer look at the beautiful Dharma Hall.


The main temple courtyard at Bongeunsa Temple


A look up at blue skies and the main hall.


A look inside the Daeung-jeon at the main altar with Seokgamoni-bul in the centre.


Just to the right of the main hall is this statue of Gwanseeum-bosal inside the Seonbul-dang.


The stairs that lead to the upper courtyard at Bongeunsa Temple.


The Yeongsan-jeon.


A look inside the Yeongsan-jeon at the main altar.


The view from the upper courtyard.


The Yeong-gak shrine hall.


The picturesque statue of Mireuk-bul.


The Jijang-jeon on the lower courtyard.


Just one of the amazing paintings adorning the Jijang-jeon.


And a look inside the Jijang-jeon at the main altar.

Temple Stay: Bongeunsa Temple (Seoul)

File:Bongeunsa behind buddha.jpg

The view from the large sized Mireuk-bul statue at Bongeunsa Temple in Seoul. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

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Introduction to the Temple:

Bongeunsa Temple is conveniently located in the posh neighbourhood of Gangnam-gu, Seoul. The temple was first established in 794 A.D., by National Teacher, Ven. Yeonhoe. There are quite a few unique features to this large sized temple including the large stone statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) to the rear of the temple grounds, as well as the beautifully situated and adorned main hall.

Bongeunsa Temple does two types of Temple Stay programs. The first is the more traditional one night and two days program that focuses on a temple tour, a tea ceremony, chanting, mediation, and Buddhist rosary making.

On the other hand, the other program that Bongeunsa Temple conducts is a two and a half hour activity every Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. A number of activities are available such as lotus flower making, mediation, and a tea ceremony.

For more on Bongeunsa Temple.

(Courtesy of the Bongeunsa Temple website)


There are two ways to get to Bongeunsa Temple when in Seoul. The first way to get there is to take the No. 2 subway line, get off at Samseong Station and go out through exit No. 6, then walk about 5 minutes in the direction of the Asem Tower.

The other way to get to the temple is to take the No. 7 subway line, get off at Cheongdam Station and go out exit No. 2, then walk about 5 minutes in the direction of Gyeonggi High School.

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General Schedule:

**Not Available**

(Courtesy of the Bongeunsa Temple website)

Bongeunsa Temple Information:

Address : 73, Samseong-dong Gangnam-gu Seoul 135-090 Korea
Tel : +82-2-3218-4895 / Fax : +82-2-544-2141
homepage :
E-mail :


Adults: 70,000 won; Teens: 70,000 won; Under 13: 50,000 won (1 night, 2 days)

Adults: 20,000 won; Teens: 20,000 won; Under 13: 10,000 won (Every Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Reservations for the One Night Two Day Temple Stay Program at Bongeunsa Temple.

Reservations for the Three Hour Temple Stay Program at Bongeunsa Temple.


 (Courtesy of Wikipedia)