Traditional Buddhist Mountain Temples of Korea
Traditional Buddhist Mountain Temples of Korea is part of the Tentative list of Republic of Korea in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
Click here for a short description of the site, as delivered by the state party.
- ●● Tentative
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
Many visitors to Korea visit Bulguksa or Haeinsa. Both are Buddhist treasures and provide a great introduction to Korean temples. However, too often visitors only visit Bongeunsa temple in Seoul. Here is a great list for any traveler interested in Korean mountain temples.
Firstly, there are no "great" Buddhist temples in or around Seoul. This is because during the Joseon dynasty Confucianism was central to the state. Buddhism had not been the state religion since the time of Goryeo. This nomination is sensible in focusing on mountain temples in the more rural areas of Korea. These temples are well-preserved, highly authentic, and most (if not all) have more than one national treasure. Each one of these 7 temples has features or artifacts that make them unique.
I visited 3 mountain temples included in this nomination.
1) Beopjusa (Boeun), 2011
2) Buseoksa (Yeongju), 2016
3) Magoksa (Gongju), 2016
Beopjusa is located in the heart of South Korea. Most people visit the temple because it is the starting point for the trek to the summit of Songnisan National Park. The temple has several national treasures. The two most noteworthy is the only preserved 5-story wooden pagoda in Korea and the beautiful Goryeo era rock etching. I found both spectacular. Korea used to be filled with wooden pagodas from 3-9 stories. An incredible number of them were destroyed during the Samurai invasion in the 1590's. Some that survived into the modern age were lost during the Japanese colonial period and the Korean War. This makes Beopjusa particularly special. The 5-story wooden pagoda dates from 1624 and is the only one of its kind left in Korea.
The location of the temple is just outside the town of Boeun. About 3 hrs from Seoul, this town is worth a visit for 3 reasons: Beopjusa temple, Samnyeonsanseong Fortress, and Songnisan National Park. The first 2 sites are part of tentative world heritage nominations.
Magoksa, which is conveniently located near Gongju (Baekje Historic Areas WHS) is quite unique in its layout, almost surrounded by a river. Another special quality of this temple is the Ocheung Stone pagoda, which is one of the few examples of Tibetan architectural elements in Korea.
Buseoksa Temple is known for its national treasures, one being a wooden main prayer hall built during the Goryeo Dynasty. Muryangsujeon is the second oldest wooden building in South Korea, dating back to 1376.
All three temples I visited are great, and each is active with practicing monks. The cultural heritage administration of Korea (CHA) will have to avoid the mistake from the Seowon dossier in 2016. The serial components need to be very clear why they were chosen. I still do not fully understand why Hwaeomsa was not included? I found the argument in the comparative analysis to be inadequate. Magoksa was the only temple I visited that mentioned the pursuit of world heritage status, in which banners asked for prayers for success in 2018.
Read more from Kyle Magnuson here.
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2013 - Submitted
In the News
The site has 7 locations.
- Beopjusa. Boeun-gun. Chungcheongbuk-do Provinc
- Bongjeongsa. Yeongju-si. Gyeongsangbuk-do Province
- Buseoksa. Andong-si. Gyeongsangbuk-do Province
- Daeheungsa. Haenam-gun Jeollanam-do
- Magoksa. Gongju-si. Chungcheongnam-do Province
- Seonamsa. Suncheon-si. Jeollanam-do Province
- Tongdosa. Yangsan-si. Gyeongsangnam-do Province