Jeongamsa Temple – 정암사 (Gohan, Gangwon-do)


The Seven-Tier Stone Pagoda at Jeongamsa Temple in Gangwon-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Jeongamsa Temple, which was first built in 638, was established by Jajang-yulsa to house the Buddha’s remains. The Jeokmyeol Bogung is one of five alongside the famed Tongdosa Temple and Beopheungsa Temple. Nestled amongst the folds of Mt. Hambaeksan, and alongside Jajang Stream, lies the temple.

The first temple buildings at Jeongamsa Temple to greet you are the monks’ dorms and a jovial stone statue of the dharma. Up above, and off in the distance, you can see one of the highlights, the seven-tier stone pagoda hovering over top the temple off on the neighbouring hillside.

The closer you get to the temple courtyard and you’ll see the temple’s bell pavilion, which is uniquely perched alongside the neighbouring stream. Across the bridge to the right and you’ll see the Jeokmyeol Bogung main hall. The brown weather-worn exterior of the hall is plain in appearance. The interior to this hall is void of altar statues much like Tongdosa Temple; instead, a window, which seems to be covered by gold, looks out onto an embankment where the Buddha’s remains are purportedly buried. While not as elaborate as the Geumgang Gyedan Altar at Tongdosa Temple, this shrine is just as venerated as any of the other historic sites that house the Buddha’s remains. Interestingly, and just out in front of the main hall, is a tree that is supposedly from Jajang-yulsa’s walking stick. If true, this would make the tree almost 1400 years old.

Back across the bridge, and you’ll come to a small collection of shrine halls. The first, which almost looks like the monks’ dorms, is the Gwaneeum-jeon. Inside sits a solitary statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Up a set of stairs, and past the temple’s kitchen, are two additional halls. The first of the smaller sized shrine halls is dedicated to the founding monk of Jeongamsa Temple: Jajang-yulsa. The second hall is the Samseong-gak, which houses an emaciated mural of Dokseong (The Recluse), a rather plain looking Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural, and a mural dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) who wears a rather unique hat/turban.

The final structure to have a look at is the seven-tier brick pagoda that dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). The pagoda, which lies ten minutes up a hillside trail, was built from quartz bricks. Throughout the years, it’s been repaired numerous times with the most recent being 1972, when the Buddha’s sari (crystallized remains) and some scrolls were retrieved from the brick pagoda. There is a door at the base of the pagoda with wind chimes adorning each angle of the pagoda. Out in front is a place for devotees to pray, and you get a great view of the neighbouring countryside and Jeongamsa Temple down below.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Gohan Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take the “Manhang” bus. This bus leaves four times a day at 6:40 a.m., 9:50 a.m., 2:10 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. The bus ride only takes ten minutes, and you’ll need to get off at the Jeongamsa stop.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10. While smaller in size compared to the more prominent Jeokmyeol Bogung temples, Jeongamsa Temple has a charm all to its own. Because it’s one of the historic repositories of the Buddha’s remains, it rates as highly as it does. But when you add into the mix the seven-tier stone pagoda overlooking the temple, as well as the historic main hall, Jeongamsa Temple can make for a pleasant visit to this remote part of Gangwon-do.


The beautiful forest and mountains that surround Jeongamsa Temple.


The jovial dharma with the temple in the background.


The temple’s bell pavilion.


The tree that grew from Jajang-yulsa’s staff.


The Jeokmyeol Bogung at Jeongamsa Temple.


The hillside shrine halls.


A look at Dokseong inside the Samseong-gak.


The uniquely attired Sanshin.


The view from the shrine hall that houses a painting of Jajang-yulsa.


The seven-tier brick pagoda that overlooks Jeongamsa Temple.


A better look at its beauty.


Jeongamsa Temple down below.


One last look at the ancient pagoda.

Hyuhyuam Hermitage – 휴휴암 (Yangyang, Gangwon-do)


The Stone Shrine Dedicated to Yongwang and Gwanseeum-bosal at Hyuhyuam Hermitage in Yangyang, Gangwon-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

While in Yangyang, Gangwon-do, my mother-in-law suggested we visit Hyuhyuam Hermitage. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go after already visiting 5 temples that very same day; however, I was really happy that I ended up visiting this coastal hermitage.

You first approach the hermitage from a compact temple parking lot that always seems to be busy. A short distance away is the Iljumun Gate with stone boars at its base. Passing through this entry gate, you’ll be standing in the compact hermitage courtyard. If you go at the right time, you’ll be greeted by a friendly nun with a bird that talks (definitely a first for me!).

Straight ahead lays the Wontong-jeon main hall. The exterior walls are decorated with playful murals of youthful monks. As for the interior, and standing all alone on the main altar, is the most beautiful artistic manifestation of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) that I’ve personally seen at a Korean temple. The multi-armed and headed Bodhisattva is backed by a fiery nimbus and a masterful relief and canopy. To the right and left of the main altar are paintings of an angelic Gwanseeum-bosal and people finding solace at the hermitage’s waters.

To the right of the main hall is a cave like grotto that houses a collection of sari (crystallized remains), purportedly, from the Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul. There is both an inner and outer chamber to this grotto. The outside canvased surface to the grotto is covered in masterful paintings of guardians and Bodhisattvas. As for the inner, and resting on the main altar, is a glass vessel that contains a dozen sari under a colourful canopy.

As you make your way down from the upper courtyard to the lower, you’ll pass by the monks’ dorms, a visitors’ centre, and administration offices. A little further along, and you’ll next come to another hall dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal. This Gwaneeum-jeon houses yet another masterful rendering of a standing Gwanseeum-bosal. With willow spray in hand and a blue dragon at her feet, this Gwanseeum-bosal is yet another amazing feat in Buddhist artistry. To the right of the main altar is an amazing relief and statue of Yongwang (The Dragon King); while to the left rests a guardian relief.

Having made your way past this shrine hall, the ocean will finally come into view. Straight ahead is the temple’s bell pavilion with a rather uniquely painted golden bell inside. It’s to the right of the bell pavilion that you’ll see a large stone shrine dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal. While not as refined as the statue at the neighbouring Naksansa Temple, this one is both beautiful and large in its own right. Standing at either side of the Bodhisattva of Compassion is an attendant and the largest statue of Yongwang I have seen. Intricately carved around the base of all the statues are amazing, and I mean amazing, aquatic engravings of marine life. Also, there’s a mermaid wishing well.

There’s a way down to the ocean from this area. You can enjoy both the beautiful ocean side views and a shrine dedicated to Yongwang.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Yangyang Intercity Bus Terminal, you need to board the Jigyeong-ri bus. You’ll need to take it for 26 stops and then get off at the Gwangjin-ri bus stop. From there, you’ll then have to walk 4 more minutes to Hyuhyuam Hermitage.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10. What isn’t to love about this little known, but uniquely populated, hermitage by the sea? From the nun with a bird that speaks, to the stone grotto with the Buddha’s remains, the hermitage uniquely has it all. And when you couple it with the most beautiful statues of Gwanseeum-bosal in all of Korea, as well as the maritime statues of Yongwang and Gwanseeum-bosal, and you’ll need to add this little known hermitage to your list of things to see the next time you’re in the Gangwon-do area.


The Iljumun Gate that greets you at the hermitage entry.


A look inside the main hall at the splendour of Gwanseeum-bosal.


Some of the accompanying main hall artwork of Gwanseeum-bosal.


A look inside the cave grotto.


The Agwi artwork that adorns the grotto’s outer chamber.


As well as an image of Gwanseeum-bosal.


A look towards the inner chamber’s main altar.


A look at the glass vessel that houses a dozen of the Buddha’s sari.


The ocean side view and the Gwaneeum-jeon beside it.


The amazing main altar inside the Gwaneeum-jeon.


With Yongwang to the side.


A look back towards the temple grounds.


And a look towards the bell pavilion and Gwanseeum-bosal shrine.


The golden temple bell and fish gong.


A stone frog that looks like it might have jumped straight out of an animation.


The beautiful ocean view.


The Gwanseeum-bosal shrine.


The mermaid wishing well that joins them.


A Yongwang relief.


A whale relief that is etched at the base of the shrine.


Yet another amazing maritime relief.


And finally, at the base of the much larger statue, is an ornately etched Gwanseeum-bosal relief.

Naksansa Temple – 낙산사 (Yangyang, Gangwon-do)


The 18 Metre Tall Gwanseeum-bosal Statue at Naksansa Temple in Yangyang, Gangwon-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Naksansa Temple was first founded in 671 C.E. by the famed monk, Uisang-daesa. The name Naksansa Temple is an abbreviation of “Botarakgasan.” The name “Naksan” refers to Mt. Potalaka in India, where it’s believed that Gwanseeum-bosal (Avalokitesvara) lives. Gwanseeum-bosal is believed to live on an island surrounded by the sea along with guardian dragons. It’s along the coastal waters of Naksansa Temple in Yangyang, Gangwon-do that Uisang-daesa meditated. He had a visit from Gwanseeum-bosal who told Uisang to build a temple on Mt. Naksan, which is where the temple is located. Throughout the years, Naksansa Temple has been destroyed by fire more than most Korean temples. The temple was first destroyed by the invading Mongols during the 13th century. After that, it was repeatedly reconstructed and expanded by royal order in 1467, 1469, 1631, and 1643. After all this expansion, the temple was completely destroyed during the Korean War in 1953. It was from this period in time that most of the temple buildings dated back to, but it was the April, 2005 fire that was most damaging. It completely destroyed Naksansa Temple including a 15th century temple bell that just so happened to be a national treasure. Fortunately for us, the temple has been completely rebuilt for an all new generation of temple adventurers.

You make your way up to the temple from the temple parking lot. The well-manicured grounds are something to enjoy as you make your way to the temple grounds. The first thing to greet you at the temple is the fortress like entry gate.

Walking a little further, and finally cresting the hill that Naksansa Temple sits upon, you’ll notice the rebuilt bell pavilion to the far left side. Straight ahead is the Cheonwangmun Gate with the Four Heavenly Kings inside with bulging eyes. The next structure to greet you is the strangely shaped Binil-ru Pavilion that seems to be just as wide as it is long. Typically, these types of pavilions are rather long in length.

Having passed through the crescent-shaped gate, you’ll enter into the lower courtyard at Naksansa Temple. Other than collecting your breath or sitting to enjoy the view, there is nothing for a visitor to see. You’ll have to go a little further if you want to see anything.

Past a gate that is adorned with descriptive murals of both the guardians Heng and Ha is the upper courtyard. Resting in the middle of the upper courtyard is a seven-tier stone pagoda that was purportedly constructed, at least in part, by Uisang-daesa. Housed inside the ornately decorated Wontong-jeon main hall is a slender statue of Gwanseeum-bosal. With a large golden crown on her head, she sits all alone in the main hall.

However, the real highlight to this temple is the crowning Gwaseeum-bosal statue that’s called Haesugwaneumsang (해수관음입상). Standing 18 metres in height, the serene-looking Gwanseeum-bosal looks out towards the southeast. The peaceful, granite statue was first constructed in 1977 and it took 700 tons of granite to build. It’s perhaps the most beautiful of its kind in all of Korea.

After having seen the Haesugwaneumsang statue of Gwanseeum-bosal, you can take a path down towards the lower courtyard which houses the large sized Bota-jeon. The exterior walls to this hall are painted in some of the most original murals dedicated to Uisang-daesa in all of Korea. The murals cover the duration of the famed monk’s life like his voyage home with Lady Seonmyo at his back as he returns to Korea, as well as the floating rock mural from the establishment of Buseoksa Temple. Inside this hall are some of the 33 incarnations of Gwanseeum-bosal. They are both beautifully and masterfully executed. Out in front of the Bota-jeon is a seven-tier stone pagoda.

As you make your way out from the lower courtyard, you’ll notice a Myeongbu-jeon Hall to your left with the Boje-ru Pavilion straight ahead. It’s just past this two-story bell pavilion that you’ll come to a beautiful lotus pond. Sitting in the centre of this well stocked pond sits a stone statue of the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Naksansa Temple, you’ll first need to get to the Yangyang Intercity Bus Terminal. From there, you’ll need to take Bus #9 or #9-1 headed towards Naksansa Temple. The bus ride will take about 10 to 15 minutes. You can do that or simply take a taxi from the Yangyang Intercity Bus Terminal. The taxi should take about 10 minutes.

OVERALL RATING: 9/10. Of course the crowning Gwanseeum-bosal is the main highlight to Naksansa Temple. With its sheer size and serene beauty, it isn’t hard to tell. There are a few other highlights, as well, like the regal Gwanseeum-bosal inside the temple’s main hall and the beautifully manicured temple grounds. Also, the lower courtyard with the amazing Bota-jeon Hall and the lotus pond are pretty amazing in their own right. Add into the mix the scenic ocean views, and Naksansa Temple can make for a nice day trip in Gangwon-do.


Th scenic walk up to Naksansa Temple.


The entrance gate that greets you at the temple.


The Cheonwangmun Gate at the temple.


One of the eye-bulging Heavenly Kings.


The temple’s bell pavilion.


The crescent-shaped entryway to the Boje-ru.


A look up at the upper courtyard.


A look at the seven-tier stone pagoda in the upper courtyard.


A look up at a beautiful sky and the Wontong-jeon.


The main altar inside the Wontong-jeon.


The beautiful earthen fence and blue sky at Naksansa Temple.


The sites as you make your way towards Gwanseeum-bosal.


Gwanseeum-bosal coming into view.


The serene, and massive, granite statue of Gwanseeum-bosal.


A closer look upwards.


And the amazing view that Gwanseeum-bosal enjoys.


The path that leads down to the Bota-jeon.


The Bota-jeon Hall.


The Floating Rock scene from the establishment of Buseoksa Temple.


Uisang returning to the Korean peninsula.


A look inside the amazing Bota-jeon at Naksansa Temple.


The view from the Bota-jeon out towards the Myeongbu-jeon and the temple’s Boje-ru.


The amazing lotus pond at Naksansa Temple.


A better look at one of the white lotus flowers.

Guryongsa Temple – 구룡사 (Wonju, Gangwon-do)


The view from the Cheonwangmun Gate at Guryongsa Temple in Chiaksan National Park.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located in the heart of Chiaksan National Park is Guryongsa Temple, which means “Nine Dragons Temple,” in English. It’s believed that the temple was first constructed by the famed Uisang-daesa in 668 C.E.

Like all great temples, Guryongsa Temple has an imaginative creation story all to its own. Uisang, after walking several miles, found the location for a temple in the rolling folds of Chiaksan; however, a pond stood in the way of his plans. Living inside this pond were nine dragons who heard the monks plans to build a temple on their pond. The tricky dragons proposed a bet to Uisang: if the monk won the bet, they would leave; however, if the dragons won, Uisang would have to abandon his hopes of building a temple on their pond. With both parties agreeing to this little wager, the dragons proceeded to drown the monk to death. Torrential rain fell from the sky and flooded the mountain ranges. Sure that they had killed the monk, they went in search of him. What they found surprised the nine dragons. Instead of being dead, Uisang was peacefully sleeping on a boat. Awoken by the dragons, Uisang said, “Is that all the tricks you have? Now watch my trick with your eyes wide open.” Drawing a talisman from his person, Uisang flung it into the pond, where it proceeded to bubble and boil. The dragons fled to the East Sea, leaving a blinded dragon behind. Quick in their escape, the eight dragons left eight valleys behind as proof of their hasty escape through the mountains.

The temple is situated up a beautiful winding road that’s lined with mature pine trees and a flowing stream. The hike up to the temple grounds is about 900 metres in distance and is filled with things to see like the dragon based pillared Iljumun Gate. A little further up the road, and you’ll next come to an ancient stupa field. Nearing the temple grounds, you’ll finally see the first shrine hall at the temple: the Josa-jeon. Inside this hall hangs a painting of the Bodhidharma.

Just another hundred metres up the road and you’ll finally come to the elevated temple grounds. The impressive two-story Cheonwangmun Gate, which if you come at the right time of the day will have brilliant sunlight shooting through the slats in the roof, is flanked by a three-story stone pagoda. While rather non-descript, the stout-looking Four Heavenly Kings are rather intimidating in size and scowls. To the left of the Cheonwangmun Gate appears to be an aged statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha).

Up a steep set of stairs, and under the low-lying Bogwang-ru Pavilion, you’ll finally enter the main temple courtyard. Looking behind you, you’ll notice the rather long and spacious interior to the Bogwang-ru Pavilion that is used for meetings. To the right of this hall is the temple’s bell pavilion: the Jong-gak. And to left of the pavilion, and still under construction, is what looks to be a meditative pavilion.

Straight ahead is the Daeung-jeon, which acts as the temple’s main hall. Surrounding the exterior walls to this hall are some masterful Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, is a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s flanked on either side by what looks to be Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) and Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). The low-hanging orange paper lotus lanterns inside this hall are quite nice, as well.

To the left of the main hall is the Myeongbu-jeon. The exterior walls are painted with Judgment murals, as well as a mural of the Dragon Ship of Wisdom. Sitting inside this hall sits a golden haired Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). He’s backed by a well-populated mural of himself. Just behind the Myeongbu-jeon is the Samseong-gak. The most unique painting of the three, which includes a painting of Chilseong (The Seven Stars), Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), is the painting of Sanshin. Inside this mural, you can rather uniquely see a larger image of a male Sanshin joined by a smaller image of a female Sanshin slightly to the left.

The other two remaining halls at Guryongsa Temple are to the right of the main hall. The first, and newly constructed (and there’s a lot of newer construction at Guryongsa Temple), is the Gwaneeum-jeon. The golden statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) that sits all alone inside this hall is backed by a scenic landscape that also includes Yongwang. Just to the rear of the Gwaneeum-jeon is the Nahan-jeon. This is one of the more unique Nahan-jeon halls that you’ll find in Korea. Because besides the statue of Seokgamoni-bul that sits on the main altar, all 500 of the Buddha’s disciples take up residence inside their own glass box on the neighbouring walls, as well as the 16 main Nahan that join Seokgamoni-bul on the main altar.

HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll need to get to the city of Wonju from wherever it is that you live in Korea. From the Wonju Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to either take Bus #3 or #3-1 to Wonju Station. It should take about 15 minutes, or 6 bus stops. Now, from Wonju Station, you’ll need to get on Bus #41 to Guryongsa Temple. In total, the ride should last about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10. I was definitely impressed by the beauty at Guryongsa Temple: both Buddhist and natural. The Cheonwangmun Gate is one of the larger ones that you’ll find at a Korean temple. On top of this large sized entry gate, you can also enjoy the male/female Sanshin mural, the boxed Nahan statues, and the rolling hills that lie all around Guryongsa Temple.


The Iljumun Gate at Guryongsa Temple.


The stupa field at the temple.


The two-story Cheonwangmun Gate and front facade at the temple.


A standing stone statue of Mireuk-bul.


One of the fierce-looking Cheonwang.


Light shafts shoot through the top of the Cheonwangmun Gate.


A look up towards the Bogwang-ru Pavilion.


A look inside the spacious interior to the Bogwang-ru.


The bell pavilion at Guryongsa Temple.


A look across at the main hall and the Myeongbu-jeon at Guryongsa Temple.


A Shimu-do mural that adorns the main hall.


 A look inside the main hall at Seokgamoni-bul.


A golden capped Jijang-bosal.


A look towards the Samseong-gak.


The male/female mural of Sanshin.


A look towards the Gwaneeum-jeon.


Inside is a golden, regal statue of Gwanseeum-bosal.


A look up at the Nahan-jeon.


 A look inside the Nahan-jeon. Each little box is filled with a Nahan figure.

Woljeongsa Temple – 월정사 (Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do)


The Nine-Tier Stone Pagoda at Woljeongsa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Woljeongsa Temple, which is located in Odaesan National Park, means “Moon Vitality Temple,” in English. It was first founded in 643 C.E. by the famed master Jajang-yulsa. Like a lot of creation stories, Woljeongsa Temple has an interesting one of its own. Master Jajang was chanting in front of a stone statue of Munsu-bosal, hoping to see the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. On his seventh night of chanting, the Buddha gave Jajang a poem with four lines written in Sanskrit. The next day, a monk said to Jajang that he looked both pale and troubled. Jajang told this monk that he had received a poem that he couldn’t understand. The mysterious monk explained the poem to Jajang and told him to go to Mt. Odaesan, where he would find 10,000 Munsu-bosals. After seven more days, a dragon revealed itself to Jajang. The dragon told Jajang that the old monk he had formerly seen was in fact Munsu-bosal. The dragon went on to tell Jajang that Jajang now had to build a temple dedicated to this Bodhisattva. So in 643 C.E., Jajang reached Mt. Odaesan. However, when he arrived, Mt. Odaesan was covered in fog, so Jajang couldn’t see anything. During the three days that the mountain was covered, Jajang built a thatched hut that would eventually become the site for the future Woljeongsa Temple. More recently, Woljeongsa Temple was completely destroyed, all ten buildings in total, by the Korean Army during the Korean War (1950-53) because it had become a refuge for opposing forces.

Woljeongsa Temple is one of the most beautifully situated temples in Korea, and it becomes more and more obvious as soon as you approach the temple. You’ll first cross over a wide bridge whose rails are decorated with stone statues of the twelve zodiac generals. Finally on the other side, you’ll pass under the Boje-ru, which is adorned with various guardians like Heng and Ha, to gain access to the temple courtyard.

Straight ahead, you’ll immediately notice the nine-story, octagonal shaped, stone pagoda from the Goryeo Dynasty. The uniquely shaped pagoda is not only the main highlight to the temple, but it’s also National Treasure #48. Wind chimes hang on each corner of the pagoda, while a seated stone Bodhisattva is situated out in front making an offering. The original ancient stone Bodhisattva is now currently housed inside the temple museum, which is to the right when you immediately enter the temple courtyard. And to the left is the two-story bell pavilion.

Behind the nine-story stone pagoda is the temple’s main hall, which is framed on the other side by a grassy hill. The rather spacious interior is only occupied by a large sized solitary statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). The pillars that neighbour the statue of the Buddha are painted with interweaving dragons. As for the exterior walls, they are adorned with Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals.

To the left and rear of the main hall are four more shrine halls at Woljeongsa Temple. To the far left is the Sugwang-jeon, which houses a highly elaborate relief and statue dedicated to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). This seated statue is joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul).

Just to the right of this hall is the Samseong-gak, which houses three murals dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), and Chilseong (The Seven Stars). All three murals are beautiful, but perhaps the Chilseong painting is the most elaborate of the set. Just outside the entrance on the left-hand side to this hall is a mural of a tiger having a smoke with a rabbit. Have a look at this rather playful mural. The other two halls at the temple aren’t open to visitors; they are the Gaesanjo-gak and the Jinyeong-gak

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Woljeongsa Temple, you first need to get to Jinbu Intercity Bus Terminal. From this bus terminal, take a city bus bound for Woljeongsa Temple. This bus leaves 12 times a day, and the ride lasts 30 minutes in total. The bus will let you off just in front of the temple. You can take a bus, or you can simply take a taxi from the Jinbu Intercity Bus Terminal. The ride will last about 30 minutes, and it’ll cost you about 20,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 9/10. Woljeongsa Temple is beautifully located in the folds of Odaesan National Park. Next to the setting, the main highlight to this historic temple is the nine-story stone pagoda that is National Treasure #48. Other things of note at the temple are the shaman murals housed inside the Samseong-gak and the original Bodhisattva making offerings to the pagoda inside the temple’s museum.


The road that leads up to Woljeongsa Temple.


The beautiful bridge that spans the neighbouring stream.


A better look across the zodiac laden bridge at the Boje-ru Pavilion.


The Boje-ru Pavilion that imposingly obscures the temple courtyard.


The temple’s bell pavilion.


The main hall and the nine-tier pagoda out in front.


A closer look at the hexagonal Goryeo Dynasty pagoda.


And a look at the Bodhisattva out in front of the pagoda.


A look inside the main hall at Woljeongsa Temple.


The shrine halls to the rear of the main hall with the Samseong-gak to the far left.


The Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) mural inside the Samseong-gak.


A look up at the Sugwang-jeon.


A look inside at Amita-bul on the main altar.

Beopheungsa Temple – 법흥사 (Yeongwol, Gangwon-do)


The Jeokmyeol Bogung at Beopheungsa Temple in Yeongwol, Gangwon-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Beopheungsa Temple, which was first known as Heungmyeongsa Temple, was first established in 647 C.E. by Master Jajang-yulsa. It was also one of the Seonjong Gusan (the Nine Holy Zen-sect Buddhist temples). It was also one of the five temples that Jajang-yulsa established Jeokmyeol Bogung Halls to place the Buddha’s sari (crystallized remains) inside for people to worship. Unfortunately, and throughout the years, the temple has been destroyed and rebuilt after numerous devastating fires.

You first approach the temple grounds up a road that is lined with beautiful mature trees. Halfway up the road, you’ll see the wide Iljumun Gate with an elephant and dragon as foundation stones for the pair of pillars.

Having made your way up the road that leads to Beopheungsa Temple, you’ll be greeted by the Woneum-ru Pavilion that houses the temple’s bell pavilion on the second floor of the structure. Having passed under this pavilion, you’ll notice a collection of buildings meant for the monks as well as the gift shop and visitors’ centre. To the left, there’s an expansive temple courtyard that is largely unoccupied, which hearkens back to the temple’s fiery past.

The main hall in the lower courtyard is the Geukrak-jeon Hall. The exterior walls are only adorned with the dancheong colour scheme, but there is a beautiful, but diminutive, stone lantern reminiscent of the one found at Beopjusa Temple. As for sitting inside the Geukrak-jeon, you’ll find a beautiful statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise), who is colourfully clothed in painted silks. He’s joined on either side by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Both are equally regal in appearance.

To the left of the main hall is the Josa-jeon with a mural of Jajang-yulsa front and centre. It’s between this hall and a second bell pavilion that you’ll find the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Housed inside this newly constructed hall is a triad of murals centred by Chilseong (The Seven Stars). This painting is joined to the right by a standard mural of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) and to the left by Yongwang (The Dragon King). This painting, of the set, is the most masterful with a seated image of Yongwang staring off into the distance with an angry expression on his face.

The far hall in the lower courtyard is the Mandala-jeon, which has a painting of the Buddha hanging in this diminutive hall, as well as a sand mandala. This type of hall is a first for me at a Korean Buddhist temple. The other items in the lower courtyard are a budo and stele dedicated to both Jinghyo-guksa (826-900), as well as an unknown monk, which dates to around the time of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392).

The true highlight to this temple lies up a path lined with red pines. The first building to greet you, and slightly up an embankment, is the Yaksa-jeon dedicated to the Buddha of Medicine. Just behind this hall is one of the most unique Sanshin-gaks that I’ve seen in all of Korea. Immediately when you step inside this shaman shrine hall, you’ll be greeted by three separate paintings and statues of three different Sanshins (Mountain Spirits). In the centre sits an elderly image of Sanshin, while to the left is another image of a male Sanshin, but this time, with a headdress. To the right of the central figure is a female Sanshin. All three are amazing in appearance and composition.

The final structure at the temple is the most famous. The Jeokmyeol Bogung hall, just like the main hall at Tongdosa Temple, is without an image or statue of the Buddha housed inside the hall. Instead, a window looks out onto Mt. Sajasan, which is purportedly where Jajang-yulsa buried the sari (the Buddha’s crystallized remains). In addition to the buried sari, there is also a cave, the Jajang-yulsa Togul, at the base of the embankment where Jajang formerly prayed. The views of the surrounding mountains are spectacular and give the best reason as to why Jajang decided to created one of the five Jeokmyeol Bogung at the future site of Beopheungsa Temple.

HOW TO GET THERE: The closest major city to Beopheungsa Temple is Wonju. From the Wonju Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take a bus to Jucheon. The bus ride takes about 50 minutes. Then from Jucheon, you can take a local bus to Beopheungsa Temple, which leaves five times daily and takes about 30 minutes in duration.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10. While there are only really a handful of halls that a visitor can see, they’re pretty special. Starting at the extremely rare Jeokmyeol Bogung that crowns the temple and leading all the way down to the centrally located Geukrak-jeon Hall on the lower courtyard, there is a lot to occupy the temple adventurer. And when you add into the mix the triad of Sanshin images and the fiery image of Yongwang inside the Samseong-gak, and you’ll know why I rate Beopheungsa Temple as highly as I do.


The Iljumun Gate at Beopheungsa Temple.


The Woneum-ru Pavilion that welcomes you to the temple grounds.


The temple courtyard with the Geukrak-jeon to the right.


A look inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall at the main altar.


The newly constructed Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.


The Yongwang mural with Munsu-bosal up in the clouds.


The view from the Samseong-gak down at the second bell pavilion.


The Mandala-jeon.


The path that leads up to the Buddha’s remains.


The Yaksa-jeon.


A look up at the Sanshin-gak, which is situated behind the Yaksa-jeon.


The triad of Sanshin incarnations.


The way to the Jeokmyeol Bogung.


A look towards the hall that looks out onto the Buddha’s remains.


The mound and the cave where Jajang meditated.

Sinheungsa Temple – 신흥사 (Sokcho, Gangwon-do)


The Beautiful Bronze Statue of the Buddha at Sinheungsa Temple in Seoraksan National Park.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Sinheungsa Temple, which means “Spirit Arising Temple,” in English, was thought to have been established by Master Jajang-yulsa. There is some dispute as to when it was first constructed, but it was first called Hyangseongsa Temple. There is dispute to the temple’s origins because some believe that Jajang first built Sinheungsa Temple in 637 around the time he left to study in Tang China or upon his return in 642. Either way, Sinheungsa Temple has been destroyed numerous times by fire throughout the centuries; first in 699, then in 710, and then again in 1645. The temple was rebuilt in 1648 in its present location and in its present form. It’s believed by some that Sinheungsa Temple is the oldest Zen (Seon) temple in the world.

You first approach Sinheungsa Temple through the scenic, and very busy, Seokraksan grounds. The first structure to greet you is the top heavy Iljumun Gate. Having passed through this gate and enjoyed the sharp, jagged peaks of Mt. Seoraksan, you’ll finally see the 14.6 metre tall, bronze statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). The bronze Buddha sits on top of a 4.3 metre tall lotus pedestal, which makes the overall height of the statue nearly 19 metres in height. The masterful bronze statue, which is composed of some 108 tons of gilt-bronze, sits serenely looking out onto the amazing landscape. To the rear of the statue are a set of stairs that lead inside the massive statue. The hollowed out interior has three incarnations of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) sitting on the main altar. In addition, there are three sari (crystallized) remains from the Buddha inside this chamber. Fronting the bronze statue of the Buddha are beautiful bronze incense burners and lanterns.

Finally having your fill of this masterful piece of Buddhist artwork, which might take some time, you’ll make your way up a path for 200 to 300 more metres. Having crossed the Hyeonsu-gyo bridge, Sinheungsa Temple will finally come into view.

The rather boxy Cheonwangmun Gate houses some of the better examples of the Four Heavenly Kings. With intimidating expressions, they greet any and all visitors to the temple. Exiting out on the other side of this gate, you’ll next be greeted by the Boje-ru Pavilion that acts as a type of screen to hide the temple courtyard at Sinheungsa Temple.

Watching your head so you don’t smack it against the ceiling of the Boje-ru Pavilion as you pass under it, you’ll finally enter the main temple courtyard. Straight ahead is the Geukrakbo-jeon, which acts as the temple’s main hall. The stairs leading up to the hall are decorated with some ancient Nathwi carvings, while the exterior walls are adorned with some colourful Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. As for the elaborately decorated interior, and sitting on the main altar, sit a triad of statues centred by Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He is joined on either side by two beautifully crowned Bodhisattvas: Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Power and Wisdom for Amita-bul).

To the left rear of the main hall are two more halls that visitors can enter. The first is the Myeongbu-jeon with a beautifully canopied Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) sitting on the main altar. To the rear of this hall is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. The most interesting of the three paintings that take up residence inside this hall – Chilseong (The Seven Stars), Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) – is the modern Sanshin mural.

Admission to Seoraksan National Park, where Sinheungsa Temple is located, is 2,500 won.

HOW TO GET THERE: From Sokcho, you can take a city bus to the entrance of Seoraksan National Park. The bus leaves every 10 minutes, and the bus ride should last anywhere from between 20 to 25 minutes. From where the bus drops you off at the entrance of the park, you’ll need to walk about 10 minutes to Sinheungsa Temple. You can take a bus or you can simply take a taxi from Sokcho. The taxi should take from 15 to 20 minutes to the entrance of Seoraksan National Park.

OVERALL RATING: 9/10. Sinheungsa Temple is one of the most beautifully situated temples in all of Korea. In addition to all the natural beauty is the masterful 18.9 metre tall bronze statue of the Buddha. Also, visitors can enjoy a bit of a fright with the intimidating faces from the Four Heavenly Kings. The masterful artwork in and around the Geukrakbo-jeon, the Myeongbu-jeon, and the Samseong-gak are also things not to be passed up in one of Korea’s National Park crown jewels.


The amazing scenery at Seoraksan National Park.


The Iljumun Gate that first welcomes you to Sinheungsa Temple.


The massive, and masterfully executed, bronze statue of Seokgamoni-bul.


A better look at serenity.


A look at what Seokgamoni-bul gets to enjoy.


Inside the bronze statue sit three different incarnations of Gwanseeum-bosal.


The bronze incense burner out in front of Seokgamoni-bul.


The view as you make your way towards the temple grounds.


The Cheonwangmun Gate at Sinheungsa Temple.


The rather frightening Cheonwang.


A look across the front facade towards the towering mountains.


The Boje-ru Pavilion.


Both the Geukrakbo-jeon and the Myeongbu-jeon beside it.


The Nathwi carving that adorns the stairs that lead up to the main hall.


Just one of the colourful Shimu-do murals that adorns the main hall.


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


A look inside at the Myeongbu-jeon main altar.


To the rear of the main hall is the Samseong-gak.


The modern painting of Sanshin.

Temple Stay: Woljeongsa Temple (Gangwon-do)

The snowy Woljeongsa Temple in Gangwon-do. (Courtesy of the Korean Temple Stay website)

Hello Again Everyone!!

Introduction to the Temple:

Woljeongsa Temple was founded in 643 A.D. by the famed monk, Jajang-yulsa; yes, the very same monk that also founded Tongdosa Temple, as well. And like Tongdosa Temple, Woljeongsa Temple possesses the partial remains of the Historical Buddha (Seokgamoni-bul). Other than these relics, Woljeongsa Temple has the nine story stone pagoda that stands out in front of the Jeokgwang-jeon Hall. And directly in front of the ornate pagoda is a seated stone Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). This one is a new one, the old one seems to be locked away safely in a museum.

As for the Temple Stay program, it seems as though the program focuses on the entire Buddhist experience with Buddhist services, bell ringing, and a walk in a neighbouring fir tree forest.

For more on Woljeongsa Temple.

(Courtesy of the Korean Temple Stay website)


From Seoul, take subway line No. 2 and get off at the Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, then take a bus for Jinbu (about 2 hours, 10 minutes). After, take a local bus from the Jinbu Bus Terminal to Woljeongsa Temple or Sangwonsa Temple (15 minutes).

General Schedule:

Woljeongsa Temple conducts two types of programs. The first is an Experienced-Based Program, while the other is a Relaxation-Based Program.

A: Experienced-Based Schedule:

Day 1:
14:00~15:00 : Registration & Orientation
15:00~15:20 : Learn Buddhist Temple Manners
17:20 : Temple Dinner
18:10 : View of Ringing Buddhist Bell
18:20~18:50 : Evening Buddhist Service
21:00 : Go to Bed (Turn Off Lights)

Day 2:
03:50 : Wake Up & Wash
04:20~05:00 : Morning Buddhist Service
05:00~06:00 : Yoga or Make 108 Prayer Beads (OPTIONAL)
06:20 : Temple Breakfast
07:00 : Walking in Fir Tree Forest
10:30 : Tidying Up the Room
11:20 : Temple Lunch

B: Relaxation-Based Schedule:

Day 1:
14:00~15:00 : Registration & Check-in
15:00~15:20 : Learn Buddhist Temple Manners
17:20 : Temple Dinner
18:10 : A View of Ringing a Korean Traditional Bell
18:20~18:50 : Evening Buddhist Service
21:00 : Go To Bed (Turn Off Lights)

Day 2:
03:50 : Wake Up & Wash
04:20~04:50 : Morning Buddhist Service
06:20 : Temple Breakfast
10:30 : Tidy Up the Room
11:20 : Temple Lunch. The end of the program.

(Courtesy of the Korean Temple Stay website)

Woljeongsa Temple Information:

Address : 63, Dongsan-ri, Jinbu-myeon Pyeongchang-gun Gwangwon-do
Tel : +82-33-339-6607 / Fax : +82-33-334-6606
homepage :
E-mail :


Adults: 80,000 won; Teens: 40,000 won; Under 13: 0 won (Experienced-Based Schedule)

Adults: 80,000 won; Teens: 30,000 won; Under 13: 0 won (Relaxation-Based Schedule)


Reservations for the Experienced-Based Schedule at Woljeongsa Temple.

Reservations for the Relaxation-Based Schedule at Woljeongsa Temple.

File:Korea-Gangwon-Woljeongsa Nine Story Pagoda 1743-07.JPG

(Courtesy of Wikipedia)