Buddhist Temple in Central Area of Korea
The following list presents some of the temples of the central region of South Korea in alphabetical order by area - includes the cities of Daegu and Gyeongju, as well as North Chuncheong, North Gyeongsang and South Chuncheong Provinces.
Donghwa-sa, situated in Palgong-san Provincial Park, represents the spirit of ponghwang (a majestic legendary bird) and was originally built by high Priest Pojo-kuksa during the Shilla Kingdom.
Adults: 2,500 won (group: 2,000 won)
Students: 2,000 won (group: 1,500 won)
Children: 1,000 won (group: 800 won)
Directions: Driving: take the road in Yeongcheon-gun, Sillyeong of #28 National Road between Yeongcheon and Andong
Eunjeok-sa is over 1,000 years old. According to legend, King Wang Kun (founder of the Koryo Dynasty) hid in a cave near this area of Ap-san after being defeated in a major battle. By escaping capture, he was able to later regroup his forces and overthrow the Shilla Kingdom. After establishing his own dynasty, he built this temple and named it Eunjeok-sa (meaning "temple of the hiding king"). Although rather small, the main worship hall (Daeung-ju) and shrine to other gods (Ch'ilseong-gak) contain several well painted pictures.
Tongilyak-sa is the site of the unification Great Medicine Buddha Statue (Tongilyaksa Yeorae Seckjo Taebul), the largest original stone Buddha in the world. This temple is near Donghwa-sa, the main temple in the area. According to rumors, former President Noh Tae-woo contributed much of the money toward the cost of building the statue.
Bulguk-sa was originally built in 528, and provides an excellent example of architecture from the Shilla Dynasty. Literally meaning "Buddha Land," it remained intact for more than 1,000 years, but following its destruction in 1593, only a few of the buildings were rebuilt until the 1970's when it was completely reconstructed.
Admission: Adults: 4,000 won, Youths: 3,000 won, Children: 2,000 won
Directions:Downtown Gyeongju -> #7 National Road -> turn left at Gujeong-dong three-way road in front of Bulguk-sa Station -> #902 local road -> 2.5 km. -> Bulguk-sa
Bunhwang-sa has a stone pagoda that is believed to have been build in 634, probably has a seven or nine-story pagoda. The present 3-story structure was constructed in 1915.
Admission: Adults: 1,300 won, Youths: 1,000 won, Children: 800 won
Directions: Go 500 meters along the back road of Anapji Pond at the cross road in front of Gyeongju National Museum
Golgul-sa (rock cave temple) is the Buddhist complex built around Golgul-am Maae Yeorae Chwasang (Rock Cave Hermitage of the Maae Yeorae Seated Buddha), designated Treasure #581. The large Buddha relief was cut into the mountain, and represents Buddhas of the late Shilla Kingdom. Built in 6th century by Saint Kwang Yoo and his companion monks from India, it remains Korea's only cave temple. Altogether, the complex has twelve caves. A series of narrow paths and tunnels carved into the mountain side connect the various caves and grottos. Although the paths have railings, people who suffer from vertigo or fear heights should not attempt to go to some areas. In addition to the monks who live here, a large colony of chipmunks have also taken up residence, scampering around the cliffs and living off offerings to Buddha left by the devout.
The temple is also famous for training in Sonmudo, a Zen martial art.
Admission is free.
Bus: From Kyongju, take an intercity bus towards Kamp'o. Get off at Andong junction. The temple is a 15-minute walk from there.
Car: From Kyongju, take highway 4 east. From Andong, take highway 929 north. The entrance to the temple will be on the left-hand side- look for the main gate
NORTH CHUNGCHEONG Province
Beopju-sa is located within Sognisan National Park and is most famous for its 33-meter brass Buddha. The statue was completed in 1989 as a replacement to the 27-meter concrete one which had to be destroyed in 1986 due to structural problems.Construction of the temple itself began in 553, and it became one of the largest temples of the era. The Palsang-jeon Hall, built during this time, remains one of the few remaining original wooden structures.
Adults: 3,800 won (Group: 3,600 won)
Youths: 1,500 won (Group: 1,200 won)
Children: 1,000 won (Group: 800 won)
* Group: 30 people or more
Directions: Cheongwon Interchange -> National Road #17 -> Cheongju -> National Road #19 -> Miwon -> Boeun -> National Road #37 -> Songni-san National Park -> Beopju-sa
Bus: The Songni-san bus terminal has daily buses to Seoul, Daejeon, and several other cities to the north. From the Daejeon bus station, you can catch buses to all other points in Korea.
Mireuk-sa is located along the upper stream of Worak Valley, 11 kilometers southeast of Suanbo Hot Springs. The temple is believed to have been built during the late Silla or early Goryeo Dynasty. Among the ruins are many cultural properties, including a Stone Statue of a Standing Buddha, Five-story Stone Pagoda, Mireuk Stone Lamp, Mireuk Three-story Stone Pagoda, stone mortar, and a stone lantern.
Directions: Nonsan Interchange -> National Road#1 -> Yeonmu -> Yeosan -> Geumma, Mireuk-sa
NORTH GYEONGSANG Province:
Dori-sa was built by Adowhasang, the monk who introduced Buddhism to Korea during the Silla Dynasty (668 - 935). Estimated to have originally been located at the foot of Naengsan Mountain, it burned in a fire in 1677. It was moved to the current site in 1729 and renamed to Dori Temple. (The name Dori means views of peach and plum blossoms all over the hillsides of the mountain, even in the winter).
Directions: Cheonpyeong -> Haepyeong -> turn right at Songgok-ri -> Dori-sa
By Train: Gumi-Gyeongbu LIne
Eunmun-sa was established as Taejakkap-sa in 560, during the reign of King Chinhung of the Shilla Dynasty. It was renovated many times and became known as Eunmun-sa after Taejo, the founder of the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392), donated some farm land to the temple and awarded it a plaque naming it Eunmun-sa in 937. An academy for monks was established here in 1958, and the temple has since become one of the major Buddhist college centers in Korea. The temple grounds contain a number of treasures and national monuments.
Adults: 1,300 won (Groups: 1,200 won)
Youths, Soldiers: 700 won (Groups: 600 won)
Directions: Gyeongsan Interchange -> Local Road #69 -> Jain-myeon Office -> Local Road #919 towards Yongseong-myeon Office -> National Road #20, turn right towards Unmun Dam -> turn left at Unmun-myeon
Songnim-sa, a small temple in the foothills of Palgong-san Provincial Park, contains a 16.13 meter-tall brick pagoda that is believed to date from the ninth century during the Unified Shilla period (668-935). Designated Treasure #189, it stands on a granite foundation and was built in a square shape with rectangular bricks. When the pagoda was dismantled for repairs in 1959, a wooden Buddhist statue and a sarira case were found inside and are now in the collection of the National Museum of Korea in Seoul.
Directions: Jungang Expressway towards Daegu -> Local Road #79 -> turn right at National Road #5 three-way junction to Dong-myeon towards Daegu -> towards Bugye -> Songnim-sa
SOUTH CHUNGCHEONG Province
Hyeonchung-sa is a shire dedicated to Admiral Ch'ungmugong Yi Sun-Shin of the Chosun Dynasty. It was built in 1706 on Panghwa-san, 4 km from Asan. The following year, King Sukjong gave the shrine its current name of Hyeonchung-sa and in 1966, the government expanded the compound, declaring it a national shrine. Also on the site are the private residence of Admiral Yi and an archery field.
Hours: Summer(Mar. ~ Oct.) - 09:00 ~ 17:00 / Winter(Nov. ~ Feb.) - 09:00 ~ 16:00 / Closed: Every Tuesday
Admission:Adults (19 and older): 500 won (Groups: 400 won) / Children (between 7 and older and 18 and under): 300 won (Groups: 200 won) /* 65 and older: Free
Directions: Cheonan -> National Road #21 -> National Road #39 -> Chungmugyo (Bridge) -> Local Road #624 -> Hyeonchung-sa
Photo is of Dori-sa
K4E Notes: Most temples are open for visits during daylight hours only, except for special occasions. Generally between 9AM and about 5-6PM.
Source: Much of the information above is from Life in Korea. Please check out the site for more details on the temples: http://www.lifeinkorea.com or contact KTO's 1330 (02-1330 from a cell phone) for more details regarding hours and directions.
If you note that a particular temple you know is missing from this list, please email us at email@example.com with information so that we can add it.
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