Okjeongsa Temple – 옥정사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)
Hello Again Everyone!!
Okjeongsa Temple is located in eastern Busan in Gijang. It’s situated east of Mt. Dalumsan. Okjeongsa Temple was first established in 1907 by the monk, Bak Geung Hae. Since its creation over a hundred years ago, the temple continues to grow and be popular with mountain hikers in the area.
Depending on where you access the temple, you’ll first need to make your way up a long winding country road. Near the temple parking lot, you’ll notice a large temple shrine hall that kind of hovers over top the rest of the temple complex. This newly built, and beautifully decorated, hall is the temple’s Jijang-jeon Hall. On the first floor of this building, you’ll see the temple’s visitors centre and kitchen. But it’s the second floor, with its beautiful artwork, that you’ll be drawn to first. Surrounding the exterior walls to this shrine hall are a set of murals that depict the life cycle from birth to death. Housed inside the Jijang-jeon Hall, and seated on the main altar, is a golden statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). This statue is joined by a row of five statues on both sides of the Ten Kings of the Underworld. All eleven main altar statues sit under a beautiful golden Datjib (canopy).
Walking away from the Jijang-jeon Hall and towards the southern courtyard, you’ll notice a stone shrine with a statue perched up a flight of stairs. This statue is dedicated to Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). And a little further along, and with the monks’ dorms to your left, you’ll notice an open shrine to your right. This is the Yakwang-gak. Seated on the main altar is a statue of Yaksayore-bul. This statue sits underneath an intricate mural of dragons. And out in front of the main altar is a large stone bowl. Inside this stone bowl is mountain water.
A little further along, and in a closed, compact courtyard, you’ll find the temple’s main hall. Out in front of the main hall is a simplistic three story stone pagoda. And it’s joined by the temple’s bell pavilion. As for the main hall itself, it’s surrounded by older Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals all around its exterior walls.
Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll see a triad of statues seated on the main altar. In the centre rests Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). This 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). To the right of the main altar, and unique in design, as well, is a statue of a green haired Jijang-bosal. And on the far right wall is an elaborate Shinjung Taenghwa (guardian mural). But most impressive in the main hall is the multi-armed and eyed statue of Gwanseeum-bosal. This incarnation of Gwanseeum-bosal is one of the most impressive I’ve seen in Korea and perhaps only next to the one at Girimsa Temple.
To the rear of the main hall is the Sanshin-gak, which functionally acts as the Samseong-gak. All three murals housed inside this shaman shrine hall are older in composition. Hanging in the middle of the three is a beautiful Sanshin mural with a suspicious tiger by the Mountain Spirit’s side. To the left is an equally older horizontal mural dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). And to the right, and just as original in composition as the Sanshin mural, is the mural dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). And rounding out the set is a large prayer stone on the far right wall.
The final shrine hall people can explore at Okjeongsa Temple is the Chilseong-gak, which is situated to the rear of the Sanshin-gak, and is surrounded on all sides by a bamboo forest. And if you look through an opening in the bamboo trees, you’ll see the two story Jijang-jeon Hall to your right. As for inside the Chilseong-gak, you’ll find a mural dedicated to The Seven Stars that appears to date back, and be composed by the same artist, as both the Sanshin and Dokseong murals.
HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Okjeongsa Temple, you’ll first need to get to Ilgwang subway station, stop K124, on the Donghae Line in Busan. From this subway stop, you’ll need to take a taxi to Okjeongsa Temple. The cost will be 8,000 won, and the car ride will last about 15 minutes.
OVERALL RATING: 6/10. There’s a lot to see at Okjeongsa Temple. The main highlights of the temple is the elaborate Gwanseeum-bosal statue inside the main hall, the shaman paintings inside both the Sanshin-gak and Chilseong-gak, as well as the beautiful Buddhist artwork inside the Jijang-jeon Hall. But take your time and enjoy all that this little known temple has to offer.