Colonial Korea: Geumsansa Temple – 금산사 (Gimje, Jeollabuk-do)

Page70b - Gyedan

The Bangdeung-gyedan shrine in 1916 at Geumsansa Temple in Gimje, Jeollabuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

The famed Geumsansa Temple is located on the western slopes of Moaksan Provincial Park in Gimje, Jeollabuk-do. Geumsansa Temple, which means Golden Mountain Temple, in English, was first established in either 599 or 600 A.D. Unlike its prominence today, Geumsansa Temple was not an important temple at the time of its construction. But then, from 722 to 766 A.D., Geumsansa Temple was rebuilt and expanded by master monk, Jinpyo.

Geumsansa Temple has a long history associated with Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). And this association comes from a vision Jinpyo had of Mireuk-bul. In a dream, Jinpyo received a book on divination, as well as 189 divination sticks directly from Mireuk-bul. From this dream, a statue was made of Mireuk-bul and placed inside the main hall. As a result of these actions, Geumsansa Temple becamse known as a headquarters for practicing the worship of Mireuk-bul during the Unified Silla Period (668-935 A.D.).

During the destructive Imjin War in 1592, Geumsansa Temple acted as a training centre for Buddhist monks in the defence of the Korean peninsula. As a result of these efforts, Geumsansa Temple, and its neighbouring hermitages, was completely destroyed by the invading Japanese. Then, in 1635, over forty years later, Geumsansa Temple was rebuilt. And from its rebuild in the 17th century, Geumsansa Temple has grown in both size and importance within the Korean Buddhist community.

In total, Geumsansa Temple houses one national treasure, the Mireuk-jeon Hall, which is National Treasure #62. It also houses nine additional Treasures.

Geumsansa1 - geumgangmun

The Geumgangmun Gate in 1933

Geumsansa2 - geumgangmun

A closer look at the Geumgangmun Gate.

Geumsansa - 1933 - Daejeokgeangjeon

The Daejeokgwang-jeon main hall in 1933 at Geumsansa Temple.

Geumsansa3 - Daejeokgwangmun

A closer look at the main hall.

Page47a - 1917 - Yukgakda cheung

 The hexagonal black stoned pagoda that just so happens to be Treasure #27. This picture was taken in 1916.

Geumsansa7 - Daejangjeon

The Daejang-jeon Hall that houses an amazing Mireuk-bul statue in 1933.

Geumsansa6 - Daejangjeon

A closer look at the Daejang-jeon.

Geumsansa8 - Daejangjeon

The intricate main altar inside the Daejang-jeon Hall.

Geumsansa4 - Mireukjeon

The towering Mireuk-jeon Hall in 1933. It also just so happens to be National Treasure #62.

Geumsansa5 - Mireukjeon

A better look at the Mireuk-jeon Hall.

Page70a Gyedan

The Bangdeung-gyedan shrine in 1916.

Geumsansa - 1916a - 5 story pagoda

The five tier pagoda in front of the shrine from 1916.

Geumsansa - 1916 - 5 story pagoda

And another angle for the five tier pagoda.

Page71a - Buddhas remains

The stone sculpture in the centre of the Bangdeung-gyedan shrine. Inside are housed the Buddha’s partial remains.

Page72b - Gyedan guardian

One of the stone guardians around the gyedan in 1916.

Geumsansa9 - biseok

And one of the biseok at Geumsansa Temple in 1916.


The main temple courtyard at Geumsansa Temple in 2014. The main hall is to the right with the Myeongbu-jeon Hall and the Daejang-jeon Hall to the left.


A closer look at the Daejang-jeon Hall with the Myeongbu-jeon Hall in the background from 2014.


The Bangdeung-gyedan shrine and Mireuk-jeon Hall in 2014.


 The hexagonal black stoned pagoda and Bangdeung-gyedan shrine in 2014.


A closer look at the pagoda in front of the Bangdeung-gyedan shrine in 2014.

Geumsansa Temple – 금산사 (Gimje, Jeollabuk-do)


 The amazing, but under renovation, Mireuk-jeon and Bangdeung-gyedan shrine at Geumsansa Temple in Gimje, Jeollabuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Geumsansa Temple, which means Golden Mountain Temple, in English, lies in a flat river valley on the western slope of Moaksan Provincial Park. It was first established in 599 A.D. or 600 A.D. (depending on the historic document that is being used). At that time, it was not a prominent temple like it is today. Then from 722 to 766, the temple was rebuilt and expanded under the watchful eye of master monk, Jinpyo. According to legend, Jinpyo had a vision of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). In this dream he received a book on divination and 189 divination sticks from Mireuk-bul. As a result, a statue was made of Mireuk-bul and enshrined in the main hall. With this in mind, Geumsansa Temple became the headquarters for practicing Mireuk-bul worship during the Unified Silla Period. During the Imjin War in 1592, the temple acted as a training ground for monks in the defence of the Korean peninsula. Unfortunately, the entire temple and neighbouring hermitages were completely destroyed by the Japanese. Not long after, in 1635, the temple was rebuilt. Through these efforts, and subsequent ones, Geumsansa Temple is not only one of the largest in Korea; it’s also one of the most popular.

You first make your way towards the temple up a path that neighbours a frozen stream. You’ll then cross over a newly built bridge that has a dragon underneath. The first structure to greet you at the temple is the Haetalmun Gate, which houses statues of a youthful Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power) and Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom). They are joined by two guardians behind a screened-off area for their protection; however, this screen doesn’t allow for the best of pictures. This is also the problem with the large sized Cheonwangmun Gate. Even though the statues are tall and fierce in design, they also are blocked from a clear view because of the protective meshing that lies in front of them.

After passing through both gates, and under the Bojae-ru pavilion, you’ll enter into the expansive temple courtyard. To your immediate left is the temple’s rather large bell pavilion. And to your immediate right is the newer looking Gwaneeum-jeon. Housed inside this hall is a seated multi-armed statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). She wears a unique crown where two of her hands hold up an image of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) over her head. Have a close look, it’s pretty special.

Straight ahead lays the large and long main hall. Originally, it was National Treasure #476, until it burnt down in 1986. It was quickly rebuilt, and it currently houses 11 statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas along the main altar. The central image is Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). He’s joined to the right and left by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the right of this triad stand four more statues. They are, in order, Nosana-bul (The Reward Body Buddha), Ilgwang-bosal (The Sun Bodhisattva), Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha), and Wolgwang-bosal (The Moon Bodhisattva). To the left of the central triad, in order, are Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha), Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion), Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise), and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). As you can tell, this main hall is absolutely packed. Unfortunately, you can’t take pictures inside, and there’s a woman making sure you don’t.

To the left of the main hall are two smaller sized shrine halls. The first is Daejang-jeon, which is dedicated to Mireuk-bul. The outside walls are littered with monk paintings, while the interior is lined with Palsang-do murals, which record the life of Seokgamoni-bul. As for the main altar inside this hall, you’ll get to see one of the most beautiful renderings of Mireuk-bul. This Buddha statue is surrounded by an amazing fiery nimbus. To the right of this hall is the Myeongbu-jeon. Sitting on the main altar inside this hall is an older looking statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). He’s surrounded on both sides by seated wooden statues of the Ten Kings of the Underworld. Just in front of this hall is the extremely unique stone carving called Noju. Its original purpose is no longer known.

Just behind the main hall are three more temple halls. The first one to the far left is the large, but rather plain, Josa-jeon, which houses a row of paintings dedicated to former prominent monks at the temple. To its right is the highly elaborate, and well populated, Nahan-jeon. The triad sitting on the main altar is centred by Seokgamoni-bul, and he’s joined on either side by Mireuk-bul and Jihwakara-bul (The Past Buddha). These statues are joined by 16 Nahan on the main altar, who are in turn joined by 500 Nahan in the background. If you look close enough, you might even see a Nahan that looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unfortunately, and like the main hall, the Nahan-jeon burned to the ground in 1986. Between these two halls lays the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Out in front is an ugly gnarled tree with three older looking murals of Chilseong (The Seven Stars), Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), and Dokseong (The Recluse) inside.

Up a stone set of stairs that is situated next to the Nahan-jeon, you’ll come to the Bangdeung-gyedan. Housed in the centre of this stone shrine is a crowned stone lotus bud that formally housed five sari from Seokgamoni-bul. These sari are now housed in the Geumsansa Temple museum. In front of this stone lotus bud is a Goryeo Period five-story stone pagoda. The entire stone structure is surrounded by various, and descriptive, stone guardians. Just to the right is the Jeokmyeol-bogung. Like Tongdosa Temple’s main hall, this hall has no statues of the Buddha. Instead, the window inside this hall looks out onto the Bangdeung-gyedan and the Buddha’s remains.

The final hall at Geumsansa Temple, and the most impressive, is the three-story wooden structure called the Mireuk-jeon. This hall is National Treasure #62, and it dates back to 1635. Housed inside this hall are three massive statues. The tallest, which stands nearly 12 meters in height, is dedicated to Mireuk-bul, who is the namesake of the hall. He’s joined on either side by two Bodhisattvas, Beophwarim-bosal and Daemyosang-bosal. Unfortunately, when I visited, this hall was under renovation.

Admission to the temple is 3,000 won.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Geumsansa Temple, you’ll first need to get to the Jeonju Express Bus Terminal. From there, take Bus #79 to Geumsansa Temple. The buses start leaving from the terminal at 6:24 in the morning, and they stop running at 22:45 at night. The buses leave every 25 minutes. Also, you can catch a bus from the Gimje Intercity Bus Terminal or Gimje Station. You’ll need to board Bus #5, which is a direct bus to Geumsansa Temple.

크게 보기

OVERALL RATING: 10/10. What isn’t to love about Geumsansa Temple? The amazing Mireuk-jeon is something special, as is the massive main hall with the eleven statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Also, you can visit nearly a dozen halls at Geumsansa Temple. It’s no wonder this temple is so popular. In addition, the Bangdeung-gyedan, similar to the stone structure at Tongdosa Temple, which formally housed five sari from the Buddha, is something else that adds to Geumsansa Temple’s status as something special amongst temples throughout the Korean peninsula. As you can tell, I love this temple!


The first view of Geumsansa Temple as you approach it from the pathway.


The frozen stream that neighbours the pathway.


The beautiful bridge that lets you into the temple grounds.


The Haetalmun Gate that’s the first structure to greet you at the temple.


The next is the Cheonwangmun Gate.


One of the tall, but meshed off, Heavenly Kings.


The Bojae-ru pavilion that blocks the view of the main temple courtyard.


The bell pavilion to the left, as you first enter the temple grounds.


The main hall, the Myeongbu-jeon, and the Daejang-jeon.


A look inside the Daejang-jeon at the fiery Mireuk-bul statue.


A look inside the Myeongbu-jeon at the green-haired Jijang-bosal.


A closer look at the massive main hall with a well-populated interior.


This hexagonal black stoned pagoda is National Treasure #27.


A look at the Nahan-jeon on the right and the Josa-jeon on the left.


A look at the main altar inside the Nahan-jeon…


With a Nahan statue of Arnie.


The Samseong-gak that lies between both the Nahan-jeon and the Josa-jeon.


The Sanshin painting inside the Samseong-gak.


A look at the elevated Bangdeung-gyedan shrine that formally housed the Buddha’s remains.


The Jeokmyeol-bogung Hall that looks out onto the stone shrine.


The view from the hall.


The historic Mireuk-jeon hall that is unfortunately under renovation (unfortunate for me).


A look up at the massive altar statues inside the Mireuk-jeon.


The Gwaneeum-jeon under a winter sun.


The unique multi-armed statue of Gwanseeum-bosal.

Temple Stay: Geumsansa Temple (Jeollabuk-do)


The three story Mireuk-jeon pagoda at Geumsansa Temple (courtesy of Wikipedia).

Hello Again Everyone!!

Introduction to the Temple:

Geumsansa Temple (Golden Mountain Temple) was first established in 599 A.D., and the temple was built to pray for the Baekje king’s, King Beop’s, prosperity and good fortune. The temple is beautifully perched on the western foothills of Mt. Moaksan. Mt. Moaksan is known as the “Mother Mountain,” because it’s the cradle of many indigenous religions in Korea. Additionally, the mountain also looks like a mother cradling her baby. Later, in 766 A.D., the temple was further expanded by the monk, Jinpyo. In fact, the temple, at this time, became the head temple for the worship of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). The temple is best known for its beautiful three story Mireuk-jeon Hall, which is the only one of its kind in Korea. The other highlights at this temple are the Noju building divider, Seogyeondae lotus-based stone pedestal, Ocheung Seoktap five-story pagoda, and the Yukgak Tachung Soktap, which is a hexagonally shaped pagoda that dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). There are simply too many highlights at this temple to see and experience to mention them all.

In total, Geumsansa Temple runs three different types of programs at its temple. The first is “Templestay: Whispering Together…”, which is a one night and two days program. The other program is the “Seon: Understanding Myself,” program that is a one week program that focuses on practicing Buddhism on a daily basis. And the third program is the yearly Temple Stay, where former participants gather to enjoy the program once more. This program is called “Memories of Templestay.”

The most common, and popular, program is the one night and two days program. Because of the number of monks and volunteers at the Geumsansa Temple Stay program, participants can interact more freely with monks at any given time. Also during this program, it features Seon meditation, 108 bows, a tea ceremony, and a walking meditation. It truly has something for everyone.

For more information on Geumsansa Temple.

(Courtesy of the Geumsansa Temple Stay website).


There are two ways to get to Geumsansa Temple from Seoul. First, you can take subway line #2 to the Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, and get a bus for Gimjae (about 2 hours 50 minutes). Across the street from the Gimjae Intercity Bus Terminal, you can take a bus directly to Geumsansa Temple (50 minutes), and then walk for 10 minutes to get to the temple.

And the second way you can get to the temple is you can take subway line #3 to the Nambu Bus Terminal, and then get a bus to Jeonju (about 2 hours 30 minutes). There’s a bus stop for Geumsansa Temple directly in front of the Jeonju Express Bus Terminal (about 50 minutes), and then you’ll need to walk 10 minutes to get to the temple. 

General Schedule:

Geumsansa Temple Stay features three different programs. It features a one week program that focuses on an authentic experience as a practicing Buddhist. The second is a yearly Temple Stay program, where past participants enjoy the Temple Stay experience all over again. And the final one is the one night, two days Regular Schedule program. Here is a sample schedule of what you might experience during this program:

Day One:

15:00~16:00 : Registration & Free Time
17:00~18:00 : Orientation (Learn About Temple Etiquette)
18:00~18:50 : Traditional Buddhist Meal
19:00~19:30 : Striking the Temple Bell & Evening Service
19:30~20:00 : Walking in Peace (Walking Meditation)
20:00~21:00 : Down Time
21:00~ : Sleeping

Day Two:
03:30~04:00 : Early Morning Service (Optional)
04:00~04:30 : 108 Prostrations (Optional)
04:30~05:00 : Seon Meditation
05:00~06:00 : Walking Along a Tranquil Forest Path
06:00~07:00 : Temple Breakfast
07:00~07:30 : Communal Work (Sweeping the Grounds)
07:30~09:00 : Making 108 Prayer Beads
09:00~10:30 : Tea-time with a Monk
10:30~11:30 : Temple Tour
11:30~12:00 : Comments and Feedback
12:10~13:00 : Temple Lunch
After lunch : Departure

*Bring your own toiletries (toothbrush, towels), T-shirts, running shoes and an umbrella.

* If you want to use your own room (only for you or with family or with friends), then +20,000 won per night.


(Courtesy of the Geumsansa Temple Stay website).

Geumsansa Temple Information:

Address : 39, Geumsan-ri, Geumsan-myeon Gimje-si Jeollabuk-do
Tel : +82-63-542-0048 / Fax : +82-63-548-1390
homepage :
E-mail :


Adults: 50,000 won; Teens: 30,000 won; Under 13: 30,000 won (Regular Schedule)

*Add 20,000 won if you want your own room.


Reservations for the Geumsansa Temple Stay program.


(Courtesy of Wikipedia).

Geumsansa Temple – 금산사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)


A massive, and hollow, Amita-bul statue that lies inside the main hall at Geumsansa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

While out in Gijang doing the Yangsan Winter English Camp, I decided to do a bit of sightseeing during the numerous three hour breaks. And one of those sightseeing tours brought me to Geumsansa Temple. While not as amazing as I was anticipating, it certainly had a few surprises.

Geumsansa Temple, in English, literally means Golden Mountain Temple. You’ll first approach Geumsansa Temple down a one lane country road that takes a few twists and turns along the way. When you finally do arrive, you’ll see a compact temple courtyard. Immediately to your left is the visitors’ centre. Continue straight, and you’ll see the very busy temple courtyard. In front of the main hall are numerous statues, including a beautiful pink stoned twin fish statue. Unfortunately, the front of the main hall is covered in an ugly Plexiglas set-up. To the right of the main hall are the monks’ dorms, the monks’ prayer hall, and the temple kitchen. To the left of the main hall is a very rustic-looking wooden fish gong pavilion with an equally rustic fish gong. The gong is half log and half fish. To the side of the wooden fish gong pavilion are two ornately designed dragon sculptures. Additionally, there are two uniquely designed turtles that you can place coins on their back that are placed below the wooden fish gong.

As for the exterior of the main hall, other than the ugly Plexiglas shelter out in front, it is largely unadorned. Now, as for the interior of the main hall, I’m not too sure how to explain it. To say that the interior was a surprise is a gross understatement. When you first step inside the main hall, there’s a massive Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) statue laying on his side. This massive Amita-bul statue takes up nearly the entire interior of the main hall. In front of Amita-bul are various Nahan (the disciples of the Historical Buddha) statues, as well as a large sized white-clad Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) laying on her side, as well. At the feet of Amita-bul are a set of wooden stairs that lead up inside the lying statue. Inside Amita-bul are various wooden sculptures and golden statues. At the entrance are the four Cheonwang guardians. On the left wall are various seated statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, while on the right are wooden carved murals depicting various religious figures and scenes. And straight ahead are a triad of standing Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, which is centred by Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Light).

Out the back exit, near the head of the massive Amita-bul statue, you’ll be surrounded by walls of various Buddha and Bodhisattva statues that people can pay a fee of a million won to have their names attached to a statue to be prayed over by the temple’s monks. Surprisingly, this is more than it costs at the famous Beopjusa Temple.

After exiting out of the main hall, you can follow the sign next to the bell pavilion that leads you towards the Samseong-gak shrine hall. A forested path that leads through a bamboo grove leads you to the other side of the walled off temple compound. On the right side of the temple compound only the Samseong-gak shrine hall sits. The exterior of the hall is decorated with a painting of Dokseong (The Recluse) on the right side and a painting of San shin (The Mountain Spirit) to the left. Inside, once more, are the various Nahan statues. These statues sit below the three paintings of the shaman deities. Uniquely, there’s a painting of San shin in the centre, with a painting of Dokseong to the left, and Yongwang (The Dragon King) to the right. Absent is a painting of Chilseong that usually makes up the triad of deities inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall. All three paintings, while simplistic, are beautifully rendered, especially the painting of Yongwang.

HOW TO GET THERE: The least complicated way to get to Geumsansa Temple is to first go to Jangansa Temple by taking a city bus. This temple is rather difficult to get to by public transportation, but if you take City Bus #181 at Centum City Subway Station, Haeundae Subway Station, or Bexco, you’ll be able to catch a connecting bus to Jangansa Temple. From City Bus #181, get off at Gijang Sijang Station. From here, board the Town Bus #9 called the Maeul Bus. This bus will drop you off on your first leg of your journey: Jangansa Temple. From Jangansa Temple you can either walk the 6 km distance between the temples (which I don’t recommend) or you can catch a taxi that will cost you about 5,000 won to Geumsansa Temple from Jangansa Temple.

View 금산사 in a larger map

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. The highlight of this temple, by far, is the massively laying Amita-bul statue inside the main hall at Geumsansa Temple. And while the exterior is inspiring, the interior is awe-inspiring. Other than this massive golden statue, the other highlights of the temple are the wooden fish gong, the bamboo grove, as well as the Nahan statues inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall and the painting of Yongwang. If you’re visiting the neighbouring, and much larger, Jangansa Temple, Geumsansa Temple makes a nice little addition to your temple adventures.

The entrance that leads up to Geumsansa Temple.
The not so outwardly attractive main hall that has numerous stone statues in front of the Plexiglass shelter.
The twin fish statue in front of the main hall.
A look inside the wooden fish gong pavilion at Geumsansa Temple.
And a better look at the highly original wooden fish gong inside the bell pavilion.
Finally, a look at the lying Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) inside the main hall. In front are the 16 beautifully rendered Nahan (Disciples of the Historical Buddha) statues.
A better look at the face of Amita-bul.
And below the belly of Amita-bul is Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).
A look inside the Amita-bul statue. It truly is amazingly adorned.
A look at just one of the cartoonish looking Cheonwang (Heavenly Kings) that stands at the entrance of the lying Amita-bul statue.
At the end of the inner hall is a triad of statues with Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Light) in the middle.
The golden interior behind Amita-bul. There are literally hundreds of Buddhist statues with Korean names attached to them.
The stairs that lead to a trail that skirts the outside of the temple grounds.
A look at the main hall from the temple’s woods.
Probably my favourite picture from the set. This one is the path that leads through a bamboo forest and onto the Samseong-gak shrine hall.
A look at the exterior of the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.
A look upon the altar inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall at Geumsansa Temple.
Just one of the smiling Nahan that surround the main altar.
The Lonely Saint, Dokseong (The Recluse).
And a look at Yongwang (The Dragon King) that also rests on the main altar inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.