Sudasa Temple – 수다사 (Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do)


 The jovial dharma that greets you at Sudasa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Sudasa Temple, in Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do, is located on the southern slopes of Mt. Giyangsan. Sudasa Temple was first called Yeonhwasa Temple, which means “Lotus Flower Temple.” It was founded by Jingam-guksa during the reign of Silla King Munseong (r. 839-857). The temple was named Yeonhwasa Temple because Jingam-guksa saw a lotus in full bloom on neighbouring Mt. Yeonaksan. Tragically, the temple was destroyed by fire. However, it was rebuilt in 1185 by the monk Gakwon-daesa. At this time, the temple was renamed Seongamsa Temple. But in 1273, the temple, once more, was destroyed; this time, by floods. The temple was rebuilt in the middle of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) by the famed monks Seosan-daesa and Samyeong-daesa. It was at this time that the temple was renamed Sudasa Temple. In 1684, all but for the Myeongbu-jeon Hall at the temple, all other buildings were destroyed by fire. Now, Sudasa Temple has a handful of temple halls.

When you first approach the temple, after passing the simplistic Iljumun Gate, you’ll arrive at the temple parking lot and the fattest and most jovial stone dharma you’ll ever see is waiting to greet you. It’s past this stone statue, and up a set of stairs, that you’ll enter the temple’s main courtyard.

The first of the buildings to greet you is Sudasa Temple’s Myeongbu-jeon Hall, which is also the oldest shrine hall at the temple. The exterior walls to this hall are adorned with various murals including the Dragon Ship of Wisdom and the sufferings of souls in the Underworld. It also includes some fading murals at the entrance of the hall. Inside the shrine hall sits a green-haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). He’s joined by ten large seated statues of the Ten Kings of the Underworld. Up in the rafters of the shrine hall are some beautiful, wooden dragons.

Next to the Myeongbu-jeon Hall is the temple’s main hall. The exterior walls to this hall are painted with some vibrant Palsang-do murals. Inside this hall, and seated on the main altar, sits a large golden statue dedicated to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). The statue of Amita-bul dates back to 1649. This statue is backed by a Vulture Peak Assembly mural that was painted in 1731. This mural also just so happens to be Treasure #1638. Up near the rafters of the main hall are two unique incarnations of Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power) in painted form. So have a look up when visiting the main hall at both of these paintings, as well as the floral ceiling.

Between both the main hall and the Myeongbu-jeon, and up a bamboo grove, is the temple’s Sanshin-gak. Housed inside this solitary hall is a seated mural of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). Dressed all in red, he’s joined by a large dongja who is carrying a cup of tea for Sanshin.

Past the main hall, and the monks’ dorms, you’ll find Sudasa Temple’s Samseong-gak. It’s past a bridge and up a set of stairs that you’ll find this hall. The three shaman murals are more modern-looking than that Sanshin mural up in the Sanshin-gak. This Sanshin mural, alongside Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) and Chilseong (The Seven Stars), sits in front of a peach tree and underneath a twisted red pine.

HOW TO GET THERE: The easiest way to get to Sudasa Temple is from the Gumi Train Station. From the train station, you’ll need to take a taxi to the temple. The drive should take about 40 minutes and cost you about 25,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 5.5/10. Both of the Sanshin paintings inside their respective halls are a contrast in style about an identical subject, which is quite rare to find at a single Korean Buddhist temple. The pair of Sanshin murals are joined by the early 18th century Vulture Peak Assembly mural, and the 1649 Amita-bul statue, as highlights at Sudasa Temple. A bit out of the way, the natural surroundings are also something to enjoy while visiting this isolated Gumi temple.


Both the main hall and the Myeongbu-jeon Hall at Sudasa Temple.


One of the Underworld paintings adorning the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.


Another of the Myeongbu-jeon paintings; this time, it’s the Dragon Ship of Wisdom.


Inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall with a look at Jijang-bosal.


One of the red-faced Vajra warriors at the entry of the Myeongbu-jeon.


The bamboo trail that leads up to Sudasa Temple’s Sanshin-gak.


The Sanshin-gak.


The mural of Sanshin inside the Sanshin-gak.


A look across the front of the main hall with the temple’s guard dog looking in on the morning service.


One of the Palsang-do murals adorning the exterior walls.


Some of the temple’s landscaping at Sudasa Temple.


The temple bridge.


The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall at Sudasa Temple.


And the second Sanshin mural, a more modern version of the Mountain Spirit, inside the Samseong-gak.

Jukjangsa Temple – 죽장사 (Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do)


The ten metre tall stone pagoda at Jukjangsa Temple, which also just so happens to be a National Treasure.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Depending on what map you’re using, Jukjangsa Temple can appear by two names. The original name seems to be Jukjangsa Temple, while the more recent one was Seohwangsa Temple. However, it seems as though the temple more recently has reverted back to Jukjangsa Temple. And Jukjangsa Temple is located in Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do on the very southern slopes of Hyeongjaebong.

You first approach the temple off the highway, which is quickly followed by subsequent farmers’ fields. It’s next to these farmers’ fields, and up a valley under Hyeongjaebong, that you’ll arrive at Jukjangsa Temple. And it’s the commanding ten metre tall stone pagoda at the temple that you’ll notice first. This pagoda, the Five-story Stone Pagoda in Jukjang-ri, Gumi, stands ten metres in height; it’s the tallest of its kind in Korea. It also just so happens to be National Treasure #130. This pagoda is believed to date back to the Unified Silla Dynasty. The pagoda is made from over 100 pieces of stone, and there is an opening for a golden Buddha to sit (the current one is new). An interesting legend surrounds the pagoda. It’s believed that a girl and her younger brother competed to complete a pagoda. The girl won the race, and it’s this pagoda that remains on the temple grounds to this day.

Just behind this ever-present pagoda at Jukjangsa Temple is the temple’s Daeung-jeon main hall. The exterior walls to this hall are adorned with various Buddhist motif murals like the Bodhidharma and Wonhyo-daesa’s enlightenment. The pink flowered latticework that adorns the doors of the main hall is also something to keep an eye out for, as well. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, you’ll notice a triad of golden statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power).

To the left of the main hall is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. There are some masterful shaman murals inside this hall. The ferocious tiger painted inside the Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) mural, as well as the dour-looking expression on Yongwang’s (The Dragon King) face are something to enjoy for their originality.

HOW TO GET THERE: From in front of the Gumi Intercity Bus Terminal, there’s a bus stop. From this bus stop, you can board either Bus #20 or #20-1 that heads towards Seonsan (선산). Get off at the Seonsan terminal, which also just so happens to be the last stop. From the Seonsan terminal, walk about 200 metres to get to the Seonsan jongjeom stop and take Bus #38-6 or #338-6. After three stops, or five minutes, get off at the Jukjang-ri stop. From this stop, walk about 15 minutes to get to Jukjangsa Temple.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. By far, the main highlight to Jukjangsa Temple is the ten metre tall National Treasure. Lesser sites to see at the temple are the triad of shaman murals, as well as the intricate artwork adorning the exterior walls to the temple’s main hall. In combination, the artwork at Jukjangsa Temple can make for a nice little trip to Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do.


The view that greets you as you approach Jukjangsa Temple.


The amazing ten metre tall stone pagoda at Jukjangsa Temple.


A look inside the towering pagoda.


The temple’s main hall.


Some of the cute artwork lying around.


The latticework adorning the Daeung-jeon.


The Wonhyo-daesa enlightenment painting.


The Bodhidharma and Dazu Huike mural.


 The main altar inside the Daeung-jeon.


The view from the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.


The Sanshin mural housed inside the Samseong-gak.


The intense look of Yongwang.

Daedunsa Temple – 대둔사 (Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do)


The temple courtyard at Daedunsa Temple in Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Daedunsa Temple is located east of Mt. Bokwoosan in northern Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do. The temple is believed to have first been established in 446 A.D. by the famed monk, Ado. This very same monk built the first Silla Dynasty temple, Dorisa Temple. In 1231, Daedunsa Temple was completely destroyed by fire by the invading Mongols. The temple was rebuilt during the reign of King Chungryeol (r.1274-1308). Not long after the Imjin War (1592-98), in 1606, the warrior monk, Samyeong-daesa, enlarged Daedunsa Temple to house 10,000 warrior monks if a war should arise, once more, with the Japanese. Now, while not quite as large as it once was, Daedunsa Temple gives you an insight into its former glory.

You first approach the temple up a steep incline. It’s along this incline, in a rather remote part of Korea, that I saw my first wild deer. Nearing the temple’s parking lot, a young deer skittered across the long entry to the temple. To the right of the large stone retaining wall, and up a set of stairs, you’ll stand in the centre of the temple courtyard.

Straight ahead stands the temple’s main hall. This hall was constructed in the late 1600’s. The exterior walls to this hall are painted with guardian murals. Stepping inside the hall, you’ll notice a lone Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) statue sitting under a tall, red canopy. The statue dates back to Late Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). The head and body of the statue are made of dry lacquer, while the hands are made from wood. This is one of the very few lacquer statues in Korea, and it also just so happens to be Treasure #1633. To the right of the main altar hangs a guardian painting. And between both the main altar and the guardian mural is an older-looking Amita-bul mural.

To the left of the main hall, and slightly up an embankment past an old, gnarled tree, is the temple’s Samseong-gak. It’s inside this hall that you get to look at an older set of shaman murals. The tiger with its intimidating eyes inside the Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) mural, as well as the white spider crawling over Dokseong (The Lonely Saints) right ear, are something to look for while inside this hall.

Directly to the right of the main hall is Daedunsa Temple’s Myeongbu-jeon Hall. Uniquely, there are the twelve zodiac generals adorning the exterior walls to this hall. Housed inside this dimly lit hall, and resting on the main altar, is a golden statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Jijang-bosal is backed by a beautiful wooden relief of himself, as well as the Ten Kings of the Underworld. Other statues inside this hall are ten seated statues of the kings, as well as two fierce Vajra warriors at either entry. Adorning the interior walls are murals dedicated to the Ten Kings and the worlds they rule over in the Underworld, as well as a Dragon Ship of Wisdom mural.

Perched to the far right, and past a field of vegetables, is the Nahan-jeon Hall. While largely unadorned on the exterior walls, all but for the fading, and unrecognizable murals near the top of the eaves, it’s what’s inside that matters most about this temple hall. Resting on the main altar is a triad of unusual looking statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). They are surrounded on both sides by rather large wooden statues of the Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha).

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Gumi Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to catch a bus bound for Angye Bus Terminal. The trip should last one hour and cost 6,300 won. From Angye Bus Terminal, you’ll next need to take a taxi to Daedunsa Temple. The ride should take about 40 minutes and cost about 18,000 won. Of course, the best option is a personal car, but this isn’t always an option for an expat.

OVERALL RATING: 7/10. While lacking one keynote feature, Daedunsa Temple is an accumulation of features for temple adventurers to enjoy. They start with the main hall itself and leads in towards the 14th century Amita-bul statue. Other interesting features around the temple are the shaman murals, as well as the statues inside the Nahan-jeon. And who knows, if you‘re lucky like me, you might just see a wild deer running through the surrounding forests at Daedunsa Temple.


The entry at Daedunsa Temple where I saw the wild deer.


The tall, stone retaining wall at the temple.


The main hall at Daedunsa Temple.


The main altar inside the main hall with the 14th century Amita-bul statue front and centre.


 The guardian mural inside the main hall.


The older-looking Amita-bul painting inside the main hall.


And an older image of Yongwang (The Dragon King) inside the above mural, as well.


The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall at Daedunsa Temple.


The amazing Sanshin mural at Daedunsa Temple.


The guardian paintings that adorn the late 17th century main hall.


A picture of Jijang-bosal inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.


An up-close with one of the Ten Kings of the Underworld.


One of the fierce-looking Vajra warriors.


The Nahan-jeon at Daedunsa Temple.


Inside the Nahan-jeon.