Now and Then: Woljeongsa Temple

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Woljeongsa Temple in 1929.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Woljeongsa Temple was first constructed in 643 A.D. by the great monk, Jajang-yulsa. The name of the temple, in English, means “Moon Vitality Temple.”

According to the temple’s foundation myth, Jajang was praying on a mountain next to a pond. He was chanting before a stone statue of Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) in an attempt to see the Bodhisattva. On the seventh day, Jajang had a vision where the Buddha gave him a four line poem in Sanskrit. The next day, Jajang was visited by a monk. The monk was surprised by Jajang’s appearance and commented that the monk looked both pale and troubled. Master Jajang explained that he had been given an unreadable poem by the Buddha that he simply couldn’t understand. The mysterious monk explained the four lines to Jajang and told him he needed to travel to Mt. Odaesan where he could find 10,000 Munsu-bosals. After seven more days of chanting and prayer, a dragon appeared to Jajang. The dragon told Jajang that the mysterious monk that he had formerly met was in fact Munsu-bosal. So the dragon implored Jajang to travel and build a temple to the Bodhisattva. So in 643 A.D., Jajang reached Mt. Odaesan. Unfortunately, when Jajang arrived, the mountains were covered in a thick fog. This prevented the monk from building a temple. Instead, Jajang built a thatched house while waiting for the fog to lift. This house, that he built over three days, would eventually become the site for the famed Woljeongsa Temple.

Throughout the years, Woljeongsa Temple has suffered through repeated destruction and reconstruction. The most recent of these events took place during the Korean War, when the Korean army burned down ten temple buildings because the temple had become a hiding place for rebel forces. More recently, these buildings have been restored. In total, Woljeongsa Temple houses two National Treasures and three Treasures. Of this collection, it’s National Treasure #48, the Octagonal Nine-story Stone Pagoda of Woljeongsa Temple that stands out above the rest. The early Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) pagoda, with a seated stone statue of a Bodhisattva out in front of it, is something to both marvel at and enjoy. The pagoda is also believed to house 37 sari (crystallized remains) of the Buddha. In addition to the temple’s beauty, it’s also scenically located in Odaesan National Park.

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The main hall and the famed Octagonal Nine-story Stone Pagoda at Woljeongsa Temple.

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A closer look at National Treasure #48.

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Soldiers seen during Japanese colonial rule at Woljeongsa Temple.

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Japanese monks during colonial rule (1910-45).

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The temple after the destructive Korean War (1950-53).

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And Woljeongsa Temple today.

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A 2014 picture of the octagonal pagoda and main hall.

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Better days at the temple.

Woljeongsa Temple – 월정사 (Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do)

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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.

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The road that leads up to Woljeongsa Temple.

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The beautiful bridge that spans the neighbouring stream.

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

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

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The temple’s bell pavilion.

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

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A closer look at the hexagonal Goryeo Dynasty pagoda.

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

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A look inside the main hall at Woljeongsa Temple.

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

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

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A look up at the Sugwang-jeon.

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

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)

Directions:

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 : http://woljeongsa.org/templestay_index.php
E-mail : woljeongsa@templestay.com

Fees:

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)

Link:

Reservations for the Experienced-Based Schedule at Woljeongsa Temple.

Reservations for the Relaxation-Based Schedule at Woljeongsa Temple.

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(Courtesy of Wikipedia)