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      • K-Temple Tours: Explore the Favorite Spots of BTS

        • 05/23/2024

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        • Buddhist

        • Korea Tour

        • Korea Traditional Culture

        • temple

        • BTS

  • Buddhist culture, once perceived as ancient and esoteric, is now becoming “hip” in Korea. Korean Buddhist temples, found in diverse settings such as mountains, seaside, riversides, and city centers, are attracting younger generations and international visitors. This trend is fueled by temples offering unique merchandise and hosting vibrant festivals with DJ performances. Some temples have gained additional fame through celebrity visits shared on social media. This “month of Buddhism”, take the next step and explore the enchanting Buddhist temples across Korea.

    Credit: Bongeunsa Temple

    1. Incheon’s Bomunsa Temple, Where BTS Members Made Their Wish

    • Buddha’s Sculpture within the Temple Complex (Credit: Korea Tourism Organization)
    • Nunsseopbawi Rock (Credit: Korea Heritage Service’s Heritage Portal)

    A photo of BTS members holding a tile inscribed “BTS Daebak” (great success for BTS) has drawn numerous fans to Bomunsa Temple in Ganghwa. Previously accessible only by ferry due to its location on an island, the temple can now be reached via a bridge. Bomunsa Temple is renowned for its extensive collection of Buddhist sculptures, including the five hundred-faced Buddha, a reclining Buddha measuring 13.5 meters in length and 2 meters in height, and the 9-meter-high Rock-carved Seated Buddha (Incheon Tangible Cultural Heritage) , located halfway up Nakgasan Mountain. Admire the majestic sculptures and be sure to take in the stunning views of the West Sea surrounding the temple.

    Don’t Miss: The Dragon Statue

    A Dragon Statue Located on the Way to the Rock-Carved Seated Buddha (Credit: Bomunsa Temple)

    This sculpture depicts a dragon ascending to the heavens with a gem clutched in its mouth. It is surrounded by a dense net of wish papers. Bomunsa Temple collects these wish papers in a glass bottle and holds a prayer ceremony after 100 days for these wishes to come true.

    Bomunsa Temple

    • Address: 44 Samsannam-ro 828beon-gil, Samsan-myeon, Ganghwa-gun, Incheon
    • Inquiries: +82-32-933-8271~3
    • Operating Hours: 09:00 – 19:00
    • Website: www.bomunsa.me
    • Getting There: [Public Transportation] Sinchon Station (Seoul Subway Line 2) → Take bus 3000 to Ganghwa Terminal → Ganghwa Bus 31A

    2. Bongeunsa Temple: Kian84’s Spiritual Retreat in Seoul

    • Bongeunsa Temple’s Iljumun Gate
    • The Great Statue of Maitreya Buddha, a Popular Destination for Prayers (Credit: Bongeunsa Temple)

    Located in Gangnam, Seoul, Bongeunsa Temple offers a serene place to visit whenever they have a heartfelt wish. The temple recently gained additional fame when webtoon artist and TV personality Kian84 made his New Year’s visit, wrote down his wish, and prayed for the upcoming year on the show I Live Alone. This 1,200-year-old temple boasts a collection of cultural heritage and artifacts as rich as its history. The most renowned piece in its collection is the plaque adorning the Dharma Hall, believed to have been created by Chusa Kim Jeong-hui, the foremost calligrapher of the late Joseon Period (18th Century), three days before his death. For a moment of meditation, visit the Great Statue of Maitreya Buddha at the center of the temple complex. This 23-meter-high sculpture, one of the largest in Korea, offers peace of mind to many visitors.

    Don’t Miss: Templestay Program

    Templestay in Bongeunsa Temple (Credit: Bongeunsa Temple)

    On weekends, Bongeunsa Temple offers a one-night, two-day English Templestay program for international visitors. This “experiential” Templestay program includes activities such as meditation sessions with Buddhist monks and leisurely strolls through the temple complex.

    Bongeunsa Temple

    • Address: 531 Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
    • Inquiries: +82-2-3218-4800
    • Operating Hours: 05:00 – 22:00
    • Website: www.bongeunsa.org
    • Getting There: [Public Transportation] Exit 6 of Samseong Station (Seoul Subway Line 2) or Exit 1 of Bongeunsa Temple Station (Seoul Subway Line 9)

    3. Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju: a Place of Healing for Actress Shin Min-a

    Bulguksa Temple Complex with Dabotap and Seokgatap Pagodas Peeking Out
    View of the Seokguram Grotto on Tohamsan Mountain (Credit: Korea Tourism Organization)

    Gyeongju’s Bulguksa Temple epitomizes the Buddhist art of the 8th Century Silla Period. The gate leading into the complex (Cheonwangmun Gate ), the bridges (Yeonhwagyo Bridge, Chilbogyo Bridge ), and the hall (Geungnakjeon Hall ) are all inspired by Buddhist scriptures, enhanced by the imagination and artistic skill of the Silla Period. These features have been recognized by their inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Actress Shin Min-a posted a picture on her SNS account with the comment, “I returned to Bulguksa Temple to listen to its bell,” just before the show Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha aired. Seokguram Grotto, located on Tohamsan Mountain to the right of Bulguksa Temple, showcases another masterpiece of Buddhist art―a flowing, gentle carving of the Buddha out of rough granite.

    Don’t Miss: The Golden Pig Sculpture

    A Sculpture of the Golden Pig Hidden behind the Plaque of Geungnakjeon Hall (Credit: Bulguksa Temple)

    A mysterious sculpture of a pig is hidden behind the plaque of Geungnakjeon Hall. Fans of Korean shows may recognize it from the popular show Infinite Challenge. Another statue of a golden pig stands in front of Geungnakjeon Hall. It is said that touching it will bring luck and prosperity to the beholder.

    Bulguksa Temple

    • Address: 385 Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
    • Inquiries: +82-54-746-9913
    • Operating Hours: 09:00 – 18:00
    • Website: www.bulguksa.or.kr
    • Getting There: [Public Transportation] Take bus 10 from Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal → Bulguksa Temple

    4. Enjoy the Beautiful Riverside View at Yeoju’s Silleuksa Temple

    You can enjoy the scenery of the Namhangang River from the pavilion in front of Silleuksa Temple. (Credit: Korea Tourism Organization)

    Situated not by a mountain nor the sea, but by a river, Yeoju’s Silleuksa Temple offers picturesque views of sailboats and the serene riverside. One of the temple’s charming features is the pavilion in front of the temple, which appeared in the show The Slave Hunters, as well as the 660-year-old ginkgo tree in the temple complex. The city government of Yeoju provides Cultural Tourism Interpreters at Silleuksa Temple to assist visitors, so it’s a good idea to contact the Yeoju Tourist Information Center and inquire about the schedule before your visit.

    Don’t Miss: The Multi-story Brick Pagoda

    This 7th century brick pagoda, constructed during the Goryeo Period, stands at 9.4 meters in height. It is notable for being built out of clay bricks rather than carved from stone. Due to its location on a riverside rock formation, it is believed to have served as a lighthouse for travelers along the river.

    Silleuksa Temple

    • Address: 73 Silleuksa-gil, Yeoju-si, Gyeonggi-do
    • Inquiries: +82-31-885-2505
    • Operating Hours: 09:00 – 17:00
    • Website: www.silleuksa.org
    • Getting There: [Public Transportation] Take the Yeongdong Line express bus to Yeoju from the Gangnam Express Bus Terminal

    5. Meet the Tripitaka Koreana at Haeinsa Temple, Hapcheon

    Lush old trees flank the area around Haeinsa Temple’s Iljumun Gate (Credit: Korea Tourism Organization)

    Hapcheon’s Haeinsa Temple is home to the Tripitaka Koreana , a monument project from the Goryeo Period that united the king and the people to overcome the threats they faced. It is the oldest woodblock Tripitaka (Buddhist canon) in the world and is part of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. The collection comprises nearly 80,000 woodblocks. To view the Tripitaka Koreana, you must make a reservation on the temple’s website. Liquids, water bottles, and lighters are prohibited, as well as photography and touching the bookcases. Please avoid wearing slippers, high heels, shorts, sleeveless T-shirts, and leggings in the temple complex.

    Don’t Miss: The Tripitaka Koreana Day

    Tripitaka Koreana Day (Credit: Korea Tourism Organization)

    Every April, Haeinsa Temple hosts a ceremony to honor those who created and preserved the Tripitaka Koreana. This ceremony, involving monks circling the temple’s courtyard with the Tripitaka Koreana on their heads, is open to all visitors.

    Haeinsa Temple

    • Address: 122 Haeinsa-gil, Gaya-myeon, Hapcheon-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do
    • Inquiries: +82-55-934-3000
    • Tripitaka Koreana Exhibition Hours: 08:30 – 18:00
    • Website: www.haeinsa.or.kr
    • Tripitaka Koreana Exhibition Reservation: 12:00 PM every Monday, at first-come, first-served basis (also available for international visitors)
    • Getting There: [Public Transportation] Seoul Gangnam Express Bus Terminal → Daegu → Take bus to Haeinsa Temple from the Seobu Intercity Bus Terminal

    6. Touch the Sea at Busan’s Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

    Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, Located Right by the Sea (Credit: Korea Tourism Organization)

    Situated right on the coastline, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple in Busan is a popular destination for tourists. The narrow staircase leading into the temple opens up to breathtaking views of the sea and coastal cliff formations. Another distinctive feature of the temple is its extensive collection of sculptures not dedicated to Buddhas, such as a dragon ascending to the heavens and 12 sculptures of humans with animal heads. It is said that Haedong Yonggungsa Temple grants one wish to visitors, so be sure to make your heartfelt wish.

    Don’t Miss: The Wish-Granting Stairs

    108 Stairs, Located Right after the Entrance to the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (Credit: Korea Tourism Organization)

    Climbing the 108 Stairs that connect the entrance to the temple’s interior is believed to grant longevity and health to the climber. You can also find sculptures of the Buddha that are said to bestow a son or help one achieve academic greatness.

    Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

    • Address: 86 Yonggung-gil, Gijang-eup, Gijang-gun, Busan
    • Inquiries: +82-51-722-7744
    • Operating Hours: 04:30 – 18:50
    • Website: yongkungsa.or.kr
    • Getting There: [Public Transportation] From Exit 1 of OSIRIA Station (Donghae Line) → Take blue bus 139 or red bus 1001 → Disembark at Yonggungsa Temple & National Institute of Fisheries Science stop, and walk for 15 minutes

    More info

    • 1330 Korea Travel Helpline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Thai, Bahasa Melayu(Malay/Indonesian))

    This column was last updated in April 2024, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.

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