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American North Korea Policy under the Next President 1: Biden–Traditional Washington Hawkishness

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North Korea lashes out at Joe Biden - CNN Video

This is a re-post of an essay I wrote for The National Interest recently. They’re running a good symposium on North Korea policy in the next presidential term: how would Trump and Biden differ? This was my submission on a possible Biden victory. My submission Trump is here.

Biden was the easier one to write. Biden is a pretty establishmentarian guy. He respects the foreign policy community. And as Obama’s vice president, we have his foreign policy thinking from that period too.

So it’s not too hard to predict that Biden will revert to a fairly traditional Washington hawkish approach – no more summits or public praising of Kim; working with allies; emphasizing sanctions enforcement and China. If this sounds really unimaginative – the same kind of old-hat you’ve heard from every hawkish North Korea analyst (including me) for decades – then you are right! It is the same old story, but that’s because our options on North Korea are terrible.

For all of Trump’s threats in 2017 and blandishments in 2018-19, he got nothing out of the North Koreans. Neither has SK President Moon Jae-In’s Sunshine Policy redux. So if it’s back to the future with Biden, I am not opposed to that.

The full essay follows the jump:



The most obvious element of the inter-Korean stand-off is its durability. Our human predilection is to look for change, so we often over-hype inter-Korean meetings, skirmishes on the border, North Korean weapons tests, South Korean elections, the movement of defectors, and so on. All of these things are important of course. They add color and perspective; they enrich our understanding of events and help us better track the choices the two Koreas make.

But the core stand-off is quite stable. North Korea and South Korea station tremendous force near their border, but both are deeply wary of friction igniting a second Korean war. They are, in the language of international relations theory, ‘status quo powers.’ Talks to reduce the stand-off have occurred repeatedly to no avail, and on the flips side, North Korea’s nuclearization in the last decade has not lead it to launch another unification war. North Korea is – somewhat surprisingly – stable, and so is the inter-Korean stand-off.

US President Donald Trump collided with this reality. Despite extremely hawkish rhetoric in 2017, followed by very dovish moves in 2018-2019, he changed nothing. His predecessor Barack Obama confronted this too, as did his predecessor, George W. Bush. In the end, most of them fell back on regional alliances – with South Korea and Japan – to continue the basic, long-running US approach to North Korea: deter, contain, isolate, and sanction. (Trump is dancing around the edges of this with his oblique threats against South Korea and his continuing praise of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but this seems more Trumpian theatrics than real.) I think it is likely Biden will end up doing the same, particularly as he is a pretty establishmentarian figure.

To be more specific:

1. Biden will not meet Kim Jong Un, as Trump has.

Trump’s substance-free, photo-op diplomacy with Kim has spoiled the value of a face-to-face meeting between Kim and a US president, at least for awhile. At this late date, Trump’s outreach looks an awful lot like self-flattery and appeasement. Biden will try to be more clear-eyed and serious, and that means keeping some distance from Kim and generally acting tougher and less sycophantically than Trump. In this sense, Biden will be a return to the norm.

2. Biden will not remove US forces from South Korea, although he may restructure them.

Trump’s vague threats to pull out US Forces Korea – a big issue in South Korean national security circles at the moment – will abruptly end with his presidency. There is no real interest for this in Congress, the State or Defense Department, or the US foreign policy community. It appears to solely emanate from Trump’s personal disdain from South Korea.

More possible though is a restructuring of US forces. Bunched together in a few large bases like Osan or Humphreys, US service personnel are an attractive missile target. Ideas to restructure have been floating around for awhile.

3. Biden, like Obama and Bush before him, will reach out for some kind of deal; it will fail due to North Korean flim-flam; Biden will then fall back on local alliance relationships to manage North Korea.

Bush and Obama both tried to pin down North Korea into starter, manageable deals whose successful conclusion might open the door for further, larger negotiations. Both efforts failed, mostly due to North Korean hair-splitting and obfuscation. Biden will likely make a similar good faith effort for a smallish, reasonable deal – rather than Trump’s big bang, all-or-nothing approach. This will probably fail.

This does not mean Biden should not try. Try and try again we must; the issues are too important not to. But little empirically on the ground has changed in the last four years, and the many years before that. It is easy to imagine US policy simply snapping back to what it was pre-Trump.

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University




Billy Go’s Beginner Korean Course | #48: To and From

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In this lesson you'll learn how to say "to" and "from."

But in Korean, "to" and "from" use different words, depending on whether you're saying "to" and "from" a person, or "to" and "from" a location.

This is lesson 48 out of 100, so we're almost halfway finished!

Remember that this series goes in order from lesson 1, so watch it from the beginning if you're new to this series.

The post Billy Go’s Beginner Korean Course | #48: To and From appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

 Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean





Golgulsa Temple -골굴사 (Gyeongju)

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Rock-Carved Seated Buddha at Golgulsa Temple in Gyeongju.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Golgulsa Temple, which means “Bone Cave Temple,” in English, is located in eastern Gyeongju. East of Seokguram Hermitage, and over a mountain pass, you can find Golgulsa Temple to the south of the towering Mt. Hamwolsan (584 m) in a narrow valley. Golgulsa Temple was first built sometime during the 6th century by the monk Gwangyu. Gwangyu came back to Korea from India with some followers and built Golgulsa Temple to emulate the cave temples in India.

According to the painter, Jeong Seon (1676 – 1759), pen name Gyeomjae, who painted during the mid Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), he painted Golgulsa Temple with a wooden antechamber in front of several of the stone grottoes. They were then covered with tiles. However, Golgulsa Temple was left in ruins after it was destroyed by fire in the mid to late part of the Joseon Dynasty. After seventy years, the Bak clan of Gyeongju moved into the Golgulsa Temple area and began reconstruction efforts. In 1989, Golgulsa Temple was sold to an individual. In turn, this individual sold Golgulsa Temple to Seol Jeogun, who was the former abbot of the neighbouring Girimsa Temple. During the reconstruction of Golgulsa Temple, at this time, a road was made to the temple. While the temple was once referred to as Golgulam Hermitage, Golgulsa Temple is now a fully fledged temple and registered as a branch temple of the famed Bulguksa Temple of the Jogye-jong Buddhist Order of Korea.

Golgulsa Temple is perhaps best known for continuing the practice of Seonmudo (The Way of War for the Seon). The name Seonmudo was given in 1984 by the monk Jeogun. The full name for Seonmudo is “Bulgyo Geumgang Yeong Gwan – 불교금강영관,” in Korean. Earlier in Korean history, Korean Buddhist monks were encouraged to practice Seon martial arts as a way of diversifying their meditation. In fact, Seonmudo is said to date all the way back to the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.), when the monks Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.) and Wongwang-guksa (558-638 A.D.) taught martial arts of the mind and body to the Hwarang (Flowering Knights). The Hwarang were a group of elite warrior youths from the Silla Dynasty. The Hwarang lasted until the 10th century. Later, during the Imjin War (1592-1598), these monks used Seonmudo, as well as swords, knives and spears to help repulse the invading Japanese. Seonmudo, which is a Korean Buddhist martial arts, was passed on from generation to generation until it was eventually suppressed by the Japanese during Japanese Colonial Rule (1910-1945). During the 1930’s and 1940’s, Beomeosa Temple was rebuilt, and it was used as a centre for an underground resistance to the Japanese occupation by the Beomeosa Temple monks. Since the 19th century, Seonmudo had been neglected and nearly forgotten. Finally, and during the 1970’s, Seonmudo was revived under the watchful eye of the head monk Jeokun, a monk at Beomeosa Temple. Training people started in the 1980’s. And in 1990, a practice studio was built for monks and people to learn the ancient martial art. The central location for the training of Seonmundo martial arts is now located at Golgulsa Temple where both Buddhists and laypeople practice the ancient art form.

Golgulsa Temple is home to a very popular Temple Stay program, and it’s also home to one Korean Treasure.

You first approach Golgulsa Temple off a main thoroughfare. As you start to make your way up to the temple grounds, you’ll first be welcomed by a slightly wide Iljumun Gate, or the “One Pillar Gate,” in English. To the right of the Iljumun Gate are a half dozen statues depicting various poses from the Seonmudo martial arts. And a little further along, you’ll come to the neighbouring dorms for the Temple Stay program. To the right of the dorms is the Seonmudo practice facility.

To get to the actual main temple courtyard, you’ll need to continue along a winding road that increasingly becomes more and more steep in pitch. Along the way, you’ll find a newly constructed five-story stone pagoda, a dog statue, and a statue of the jovial Podae-hwasang (The Hempen Bag). Just beyond these, and halfway to the main hall at Golgulsa Temple, you’ll find the monks dorms. It’s also from this vantage point that you’ll first encounter, off in the distance, a Plexiglas and steel semi-enclosure that houses Korean Treasure #581, the “Rock-carved Seated Buddha at Golguram Hermitage.”

A little further up the trail, and a little more out of breath, you’ll finally come to the base where the main hall is housed at Golgulsa Temple. The Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall, which acts as the main hall at Golgulsa Temple, is adorned with unusual murals around the exterior walls. Some of these murals are symbolic Seonmudo martial arts. Stepping inside the smaller sized Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall, you’ll notice a triad centred by Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). To the left sits Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) and to the right sits Rocana-bul (Reward Body Buddha). These three Buddhas represent the three bodies of the Buddha. Birojana-bul represents the transcendence of form, which is replaced by the realization of truth (Dharma-kaya). Rocana, on the other hand, is the Buddha-body that is the “reward body” for merits earned by the Buddha as a Bodhisattva (Sambhoga-kaya). And Seokgamoni-bul is the response that was needed to teach sentient beings (Nipmana-kaya). These three bodies represent how the Buddha reveals himself in a variety of ways to people depending on their spiritual ability and capacity. Hanging on the walls, and to the right, you’ll see an intricate Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural). And on the left wall, you’ll see a mural of Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.).

In front of the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall is a wooden platform where Seonmudo is performed twice daily once at 11 a.m. and once at 3 p.m. To the far left of this wooden platform and the main hall is a uniquely designed stone pagoda consistent with the overall theme of Seonmudo at Golgulsa Temple.

Now, having your fill of the main hall, you can head to the right up a side-winding set of stairs that pass by twelve pock-marked caves dotting the white limestone mountain face. The first thing to greet you on the face of the mountain is an installed stone relief of a Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural). And the first of these caves houses a statue dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). A little further up the trail, and you’ll find a shrine dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Along the way, you’ll also see a cave shrine dedicated to Yaksayeorae-bul (The Medicine Buddha), as well as a cave shrine dedicated to the Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha). At a plateau in the craggy rock face, you’ll find a shrine hall in one of the larger limestone caves. This shrine hall is dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Sitting all alone on the uneven rock altar is a stone statue of Gwanseeum-bosal. And this statue is joined by other smaller bronze coloured images of the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

The final stretch to make it to the top where the stone relief of Seokgamoni-bul is situated on the face of the neighbouring plateau takes a bit of effort. You’ll need to pass through a limestone shaped circle. After making your way through this narrow passageway, you’ll finally be able to climb the few remaining stairs to see the seven metre tall stone carving of the Rock-Carved Seated Buddha at Golguram Hermitage, which is also Korean Treasure #581. The carving is believed to date back to the latter part of the Later Silla Dynasty (668-935 A.D.). The serene face seems to have held up a bit better to the passage of time. And around the head and body you can see the remnants of a fiery nimbus. This carving is a wonderful example of Buddhist artistry during the Silla Dynasty. While a bit tricky to get to, it’s well worth the effort to see and enjoy.

Admission to the temple is free.

HOW TO GET THERE: From Gyeongju, you can board either Bus #100 or Bus #150 that heads towards Gampo. You can catch this bus across from the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal. You’ll need to get off at the Andong-ri intersection and walk twenty minutes to get to the temple entrance. Just follow the signs along the way.

OVERALL RATING: 9/10. Golgulsa Temple is one of those temples that will blow you away. The crowning stone relief that stands above the pock-marked white limestone is truly impressive, as are the shrines and shrine halls that lead up to the stone relief of the Buddha. Also, if you go to Golgulsa Temple, you can enjoy a Seonmudo martial arts demonstration or stay for the very popular Temple Stay program at Golgulsa Temple. In fact, it’s the most popular of its kind in Gyeongju. Overall, the temple is great for traditionalists and adventure seekers.

A monk headed up to the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall.
The view of the temple grounds.
Inside the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall.
One of the Seonmudo murals that adorns the main hall.
Rock-Carved Seated Buddha, and Korean Treasure #581.
The Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) shrine.
The Jijang-bosal cave shrine.
The Gwaneum-jeon cave shrine hall.
An up-close of the Rock-Carved Seated Buddha at Golgulsa Temple.

Autumn Spice Smoothie

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autumn spice smoothie

I’m not a breakfast person, but I am a fan of early mornings. Lately, I’ve been trying to wake up earlier to get a quieter, slower start to the day, but the result is that by the time I make it home from the shop in the late afternoon, I’m absolutely starving. So my solution to the breakfast problem has been smoothies — they’re quick to make, with minimal cleanup, and easy on the stomach, but they can pack a real punch when it comes to getting in enough calories and nutrition to make it to a late lunch, even if you’re on your feet baking all morning.

In an attempt to keep up the routine without getting bored, I’ve started to experiment a little more with ingredients. This week, I was craving something that would help it feel a little more like fall, so I went with oat milk and that old classic combination: cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. I even tossed in some pecans for good measure (and a little extra protein).

So here it is, a short and sweet little recipe for Thursday. If you give it a try, let me know, and if you make any alterations you think make it better, let me know that, too. Happy almost weekend!

The post Autumn Spice Smoothie appeared first on Follow the River North.

Follow the River North

Freelance writer and editor. American in Seoul. I write about Korean food. I blog about all food. Last year I wrote a monthly column about traveling to different places around the country to explore Korean ingredients and cuisine. This ignited my interest in local foods and cooking, which I blog about regularly now. I also blog restaurant and cafe recommendations, recipes and some background and history about Korean food.

Books & Stuff    Cafés & Shops     Korean Food & Ingredients      Personal     Recipes       Restaurants & Bars

Billy Go’s Beginner Korean Course | #47: Going to Do It

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In this lesson you'll learn about the grammar form (으)러 가다 and (으)러 오다, to say things like "to go (or come) in order to do (verb)."

Special thanks to the CHOI Sisters for lending their voices to the conversation.

Also remember that this series goes in order, so watch it all from the beginning so you don't miss anything.

The post Billy Go’s Beginner Korean Course | #47: Going to Do It appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

Unmunsa Temple – 운문사 (Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The Daeungbo-jeon Hall at the Picturesque Unmunsa Temple in Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Unmunsa Temple, which means “Cloud Gate Temple,” in English, is located in Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do. Specifically, Unmunsa Temple is located to the north of Mt. Gajisan (1240.9m). The temple was first built over a three year period starting in 557 A.D. by the monk Sinseung. At first, it was nothing more than a hermitage. The temple was later rebuilt by the monk Wongwang-guksa (558-638 A.D.) in 608 A.D. Originally, the temple was named Daejakgapsa Temple, or “Great Magpie Hillside Temple,” in English.

The monk Boyang-guksa reconstructed Unmunsa Temple in 930 A.D. The founder of the Goryeo Dynasty, King Taejo (r.918-943 A.D.), granted Boyang-guksa 500 gyeol (or 17,000 square metres) of additional land for helping Wang Geon unify the three kingdoms (Baekje, Goguryeo, and Silla) and become King Taejo. King Taejo, in 937 A.D., renamed the temple Unmunseonsa, but it was later abbreviated to Unmunsa.

In 1105, Woneung-guksa (1052-1144) rebuilt Unmunsa Temple, which marked the most prosperous period in the temple’s history, after returning to the Korean peninsula from Song Dynasty China. In 1277, the famed monk Ilyeon-seonsa (1206-1289), the writer of the Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms), was the head monk, or “juji,” in Korean, at Unmunsa Temple until 1281. Unmunsa Temple is also where he started to write the Samguk Yusa. In fact, there used to be a monument dedicated to Ilyeon-seonsa in the eastern part of the temple grounds, but it no longer exists, unfortunately.

During the middle of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Unmunsa Temple was partially destroyed during the Imjin War (1592-1598) in 1592. Strangely, there seems to be no temple records from the late Joseon Dynasty. However, a temple layout document was discovered during the repair of the Biro-jeon Hall, formerly the Daeungbo-jeon Hall, in 2006. It was revealed from this document that twenty-seven buildings existed in 1655 at Unmunsa Temple. The temple was rebuilt and reconstructed by Seolsong Yeoncho during the 18th century. It’s believed that the neighbouring Naewonam Hermitage was rebuilt in 1694 as were the main shrine halls at Unmunsa Temple. Throughout the 19th century, shrine halls at Unmunsa Temple were reconstructed like the Eungjin-jeon Hall and the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.

After the Korean liberation from Japanese Colonial rule in 1945, married monks (daecheoseung) stayed at Unmunsa Temple. However, starting in 1954, during the Buddhist Purification Movement in Korea, Unmunsa Temple became a temple for nuns. In 1955, the first nun was named abbot of the temple. In 1958, Unmunsa Temple became a training centre for nuns. Currently, there are three hundred nuns that call Unmunsa Temple home with an additional forty monks that are students attending the Unmun Sangha University.

In total, Unmunsa Temple is home to nine Korean Treasures and one Natural Monument.

As you make your way up to the main temple grounds, you’ll pass under a beautiful canopy of twisted red pine trees. This pathway also runs alongside the meandering Unmun-cheon River. Rather uniquely, you approach the temple from the rear with the main hall’s back to you. You’ll have to skirt the northern brick wall to the left, and make your way under the Uhwa-ru Pavilion. This pavilion has a dual purpose. The first is that you gain admittance to the temple courtyard through the first floor. And the second purpose is that it houses the temple’s bell pavilion on the second floor.

Finally standing inside the main temple courtyard, you’ll notice the temple’s gift shop to your immediate right. And to the left you’ll find an amazing part of Unmunsa Temple’s past: the biseok (stele) dedicated to Woneung-guksa. This 2.3 metre tall biseok was first built in 1145 A.D., one year after the passing of Woneung-guksa, and it’s also Korean Treasure #316.

Straight ahead of you is the massive Manse-ru, or “Ten Thousand Times Pavilion,” in English. Traditionally, these pavilions are used for large dharma conferences or gatherings. On the far left side, you’ll see a large painting housed inside the Manse-ru Pavilion of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And surrounding Seokgamoni-bul in this painting are children. The Manse-ru Pavilion also acts as a barrier between the upper and lower courtyard. To the left of the Manse-ru Pavilion, you’ll find the lower courtyard at Unmunsa Temple, and to the right you’ll find the upper courtyard. Next to the Manse-ru Pavilion is a large weeping pine tree. While the exact age of this tree is unknown, it’s believed to be at least four hundred years old, as it was tall during the Imjin War. This weeping pine at Unmunsa Temple is Natural Monument #180.

To the right, and towards the upper temple courtyard, you’ll come across the Eungjin-jeon Hall. The rather plain interior is filled with statues of the Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha). And resting on the main altar are a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul. This statue is joined on either side by Yeondeung-bul (The Past Buddha) and Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha).

Just past the Eungjin-jeon Hall, you’ll see the Daeungbo-jeon Hall. This beautiful main hall’s exterior walls are adorned with Palsang-do (Eight Scenes from the Buddha’s Life Murals). The newly built Daeungbo-jeon Hall, which was built in 1994, is grand in size and scope. Resting inside the cavernous main hall are seven seated and standing statues dedicated to various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The three central statues are Seokgamoni-bul, Mireuk-bul, and Yeondeung-bul. They are joined by Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul), Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power), Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom), and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).

With the Manse-ru Pavilion now to your left, and passing by a beautiful stone eight spoke Buddhist wheel, which is better known as the Dharma Wheel, lies the Biro-jeon Hall. This shrine hall was formerly the Daeungbo-jeon Hall, and Unmunsa Temple’s former main hall. It was originally built in 1718, and it’s Korean Treasure #835. The exterior walls to this hall are beautifully adorned with Palsang-do (The Eight Scenes from the Buddha’s Life Murals). As for the interior, and sitting all alone on the main altar, is a beautiful Birojana-bul (The Buddha of the Cosmic Energy) statue. The interior walls are adorned with murals of Gwanseeum-bosal and the Bodhidharma. These two paintings were painted sometime between the late seventh century and the early eighth century. And the two are Korean Treasure #1817. Also, the rafters and walls are intricately adorned with floral murals.

To the left of the Biro-jeon Hall is the Obaek-jeon Hall, which houses five hundred Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha). This shrine hall symbolically represents the First Buddhist Council, which was conducted after the death of the Buddha in 400 B.C. It was convened so that the Buddha’s sayings, sutras, and the monastic discipline/rules could be recorded. The Nahan are joined by a golden Seokgamoni-bul statue on the main altar. The exterior walls have simplistic Shimu-do (Ox-Herding Murals) on them. But while they’re simplistic, they’re also masterful in their artistry.

In front of the Biro-jeon Hall, you’ll find twin pagodas. Known as the East and West Three-Story Stone Pagodas of Unmunsa Temple, these twin pagodas date back to the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.). Repair work was completed on these pagodas during Japanese Colonial Rule (1910-1945), as the pagodas were nearly ruined at this time. It was also at this time that the ancient pagodas were given a bit of a face-lift with the addition of the Eight Guardian Deities around each of the twin pagoda’s bases. These Silla-era pagodas are Korean Treasure #678.

Past these twin ancient pagodas, there are a handful of smaller sized shrine halls. The first is the Jakap-jeon Hall. Housed inside this diminutive shrine hall is a statue dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul. The early 10th century Buddha stone statue is Korean Treasure #317, and the statue of the Buddha is surrounded by a beautiful stone nimbus. Also housed inside this shrine hall are stone reliefs of the Cheonwang (Heavenly Kings). These reliefs stand like sentinels in front of the ancient statue of the Buddha. These reliefs are thought to have been made some time around 900 A.D. They are Korean Treasure #318. And if you look close enough at what the Cheonwang are holding in their hands, you’ll realize that some of them are different than the ones we’ve grown to expect at temples today. The reason for this is that this standard of objects being held by the Heavenly Kings didn’t become common place until the Yuan Dynasty in China (1271-1368). You can also see this at other temples and hermitages that have an older collection of statues or reliefs of the Cheonwang like at Songgwangsa Temple in Suncheon, Jeollanam-do and Seokguram Hermitage in Gyeongju.

To the right of the Jakap-jeon Hall, you’ll find another diminutive hall, especially for who is housed inside. This hall, the Gwaneum-jeon Hall, houses a rather squat statue of Gwanseeum-bosal, who sits all along on the main altar. The interior walls are adorned with beautiful white incarnations of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. The other two shrine halls in this area are the Myeongbu-jeon Hall and the Chilseong-gak Hall. Inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall is a green-haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). This statue is joined on both sides by the Shiwang (The Ten Kings of the Underworld). And to the right of the Myeongbu-jeon Hall is the Chilseong-gak Hall. Rather uniquely, there are seven paintings that represent Chilseong (The Seven Stars). These paintings are joined by a rather plain painting of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), and an older and more intricate mural of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

The rest of the temple grounds at Unmunsa Temple are off-limits to visitors, as the temple is in fact a fully functioning Buddhist training centre for nuns.

Admission to the temple is 2,000 won.

HOW TO GET THERE: You can get to Unmunsa Temple from the Cheongdo Intercity Bus Terminal. The bus that runs to Unmunsa Temple from Cheongdo Intercity Bus Terminal runs eight times a day. The first bus leaves at 7:40 a.m., and the last bus leaves at 7:30 p.m.

OVERALL RATING: 9/10. Unmunsa Temple is filled with stunning and historic buildings. The temple is surrounded by beautiful mountains, too. Take your time, enjoy the massive Daeungbo-jeon Hall, the Biro-jeon Hall, and the Obaek-jeon Hall. In addition to these halls, there’s a beautiful pavilion, twin pagodas, a historic statue dedicated to the Buddha, and four relief stone images of the Four Heavenly Kings. Unmunsa Temple is especially beautiful during the fall months.

The view from the Myeongbu-jeon Hall towards the entrance of Unmunsa Temple.
The biseok (centre) of Woneung-guksa, which is Korean Treasure #316.
The massive Manse-ru Pavilion at Unmunsa Temple.
Inside the newly built Daeungbo-jeon Hall.
The Biro-jeon Hall, and former main hall, which is Korean Treasure #835.
Inside the Biro-jeon Hall.
Inside the Obaek-jeon Hall.
The view from the Obaek-jeon Hall with the historic twin pagodas, which are Korean Treasure #678, in the foreground. Behind are a row of four temple shrine halls.
The first is the Jakap-jeon Hall. Here’s a look inside that diminutive shrine hall.
Inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.
And a look inside the Chilseong-gak Hall.

Historical Drama (사극) Grammar and Vocab | Live Class Abridged

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Do you like Korean historical dramas? (사극)

This past Sunday we learned a lot about the style of Korean speaking you'll find in Korean historical dramas.

We learned about several historical grammar forms, titles, words, and phrases that you can use.

Here's the summarized version, edited down from over 90 minutes to now just under 18 minutes.

The post Historical Drama (사극) Grammar and Vocab | Live Class Abridged appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

Chunghyosa Temple – 충효사 (Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The 500 White Jade Nahan Statues at Chunghyosa Temple in Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Chunghyosa Temple is located in the very scenic Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do. It’s situated to the north of the picturesque Lake Yeongcheon, which is a long and deep lake, and east of Mt. Giryongsan (965.5m). Chunghyosa Temple, which means “Loyalty to Nation Temple,” in English, is located in Chunghyo-ri. This part of Yeongcheon is filled with locations with similar names, too. Chunghyosa Temple was first built in the 1970’s, and it has continued to grow and expand throughout the ensuing decades. Chunghyosa Temple is not apart of the Jogye-jong Buddhist Order, or even the Taego-jong Buddhist Order or the Cheontae-jong Buddhist Order in Korea. Instead, the temple focuses on the worship of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). More recently, they have attempted to get recognition by the government as a government approved Korean Buddhist temple.

Chunghyosa Temple is packed with originality, and it’s also home to a Gyeongsangbuk-do Tangible Cultural Heritage painting.

You first approach the temple up a short road. The first thing to greet you are a pair of highly stylized guardian lions made from white jade. A little further up the road, and you’ll find the wonderfully ornate Iljumun Gate, or “One Pillar Gate,” that’s framed to the rear by part of the neighbouring mountainside. Still new in construction, the colours of the gate radiate.

To the left, and between the Iljumun Gate and the Sacheonwang statues, you’ll find a gravel plateau. Past the twin Geumgang-yeoksa (Vajra Warriors) that stand three metres in height, you’ll find a collection of five hundred Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha) statues. These five hundred statues are made from white jade. They were donated by individuals, families, and friends who have their name and the city in which they reside written on the statues at the base. These five hundred Nahan are meant to symbolize all those individuals that were gathered and participated in the First Council, which is also known as the “Council of Five Hundred,” in Buddhism. These five hundred gathered just after the passing of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) in 400 B.C. These five hundred Nahan were gathered to collect and write the Buddha’s teachings. As for the white jade statues at Chunghyosa Temple, they are gathered in a circle. You can walk in and among them, traveling in a maze-like coiling circle. The five hundred look inward at the centre of the circle, as though they have been re-assembled for a dharma talk. Each of the five hundred has a unique facial expression and body. Some of the statues are joined by jade birds, boats, monkeys, and children. If you look close enough, you’ll see sixteen of the original Nahan like Bindora Balrasa (Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja), Sobinta (Subinda/Abhedya), and Sulbakga (Gopaka/Jīvaka). You can even see the jovial Podae-hwasang (Hempen Bag), who is presumed to be an incarnation of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) with four children crawling over him. All five hundred statues are surrounded by a cauldron of mountains. To get the best view of the entire five hundred Nahan statues, you can climb a small hillside where you find the temple’s chicken coop. I can’t stress enough just how beautiful and amazing this shrine is. Without a doubt, it’s the most beautiful outdoor shrine of the Nahan in all of Korea.

Back on the pathway that leads up to the temple shrine halls, you’ll first pass by the Four Heavenly Kings (Sacheonwang). These statues are without a gate. They are rather tall, with big bellies, and stand guard at the entry of the temple grounds. A little further along, and you’ll come across a long row of the twelve zodiac generals to your right. And just past these statues is a wooden pavilion with an ad hoc bell pavilion. It’s joined by a relaxing stone statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). It’s also in this area that you can see the temple’s visitors’ centre and dorms. From what I could tell, both a monk and a nun live at this temple (rather unusual). There’s also a Plexiglas enclosure in front of an elevated platform for which large gatherings are conducted. There are beautiful paintings underneath the semi-enclosed elevated platform, as well.

To the far left of the semi-enclosed elevated platform is a large shrine dedicated to Jijang-bosal. There are, in fact, three shrines in one for Jijang-bosal, which only further emphasizes the primacy that the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife has at Chunghyosa Temple. To the left is a standing triad of statues centred by Jijang-bosal. To the right are even more statues of Jijang-bosal. This collection is known as the Tongil Jijang-bosal, or “통일지장보살,” in Korean. There are six stone statues of Jijang-bosal standing, fronted by an additional two seated statues of Jijang-bosal. Both shrines are backed by an amphitheater of smaller stone statues of Jijang-bosal. The wide collection of Jijang-bosal statues at this part of the temple are intricate in design.

A little further along, and you’ll come to the lower courtyard at Chunghyosa Temple. In a well-manicured clearing, you’ll find a stout three-story pagoda fronted by a rather atypical statue of Yaksayeorae-bul (The Medicine Buddha). To the right of the three-story pagoda, you’ll find an octagonal-shaped shrine hall dedicated to Jijang-bosal. In the centre of this Myeongbu-jeon Hall, you’ll find a three-sided main altar. And adorning the Myeongbu-jeon Hall’s exterior walls are the Shimu-do (Ox-Herding murals), and a pair of relief images of the Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul.

To the rear of the stout three-story pagoda, you’ll find the temple’s Daeung-jeon Hall. This rather simple shrine hall houses a triad of statues on the main altar. And just as peculiar as the Yaksayeorae-bul statue and the uniquely shaped Myeongbu-jeon Hall, you’ll find that the statues populating the main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall to be atypical, as well. In the centre, as it should be, is a statue of Seokgamoni-bul. This statue is joined by Gwanseeum-bosal to the left and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power) to the right. There are five common triads that Seokgamoni-bul are apart of, and the one at Chunghyosa Temple isn’t one of them. I guess this is yet another thing that sets Chunghyosa Temple apart.

To the right of the Daeung-jeon Hall is a compact Yongwang-dang Hall, which houses a stone image of Yongwang (The Dragon King). Above the entry to this shaman shrine hall is a twisting blue dragon relief underneath the shrine hall name plate. And to the left of the Daeung-jeon Hall is the two-story Beomjong-gak (bell pavilion).

But it’s to the rear of the Daeung-jeon Hall, up a well manicured pathway, that you’ll find the Samsaebo-jeon Hall. In front of this unique shrine hall is a five-story stone pagoda with a four lion base reminiscent of the iconic Four Lion Three-Story Stone Pagoda at Hwaeomsa Temple. In front of this pagoda is a jovial stone statue of Podae-hwasang (Hempen Bag), and a highly original statue of Bukseong (The Northern Star), who is typically found in the Chilseong Taenghwa (Seven Star Mural). Bukseong is a symbol of longevity; and if you rub the head of the statue of Bukseong at Chunghyosa Temple, it’ll bring you long life.

As for the Samsaebo-jeon Hall, the exterior walls to the hall are adorned with Palsang-do (The Eight Scenes from the Buddha’s Life Murals). Stepping inside the Samsaebo-jeon Hall, you’ll instantly realize that the shrine hall isn’t configured like most others in Korea. Straight ahead is a golden wall. If you look close enough, you’ll realize that this golden wall is made up of thousands of tiny Jijang-bosal faces. In the centre of these faces is a relief of a seated image of Amita-bul. This central image of Amita-bul is joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal and Daesaeji-bosal. And above this triad is a heavenly image of Amita-bul. On the far left wall of this shrine hall, you’ll find the traditional triad statues that are typically in the centre of the hall. This triad is centred by Seokgamoni-bul. To the right of this triad is a golden relief of Jijang-bosal. And to the left is a painting of Indra, or Jeseok-cheon in Korean, and “Heaven King Deity,” in English. This mural, which is beautifully surrounded by golden relief images like the Sacheonwang (Four Heavenly Kings) dates back to 1764, and it’s Gyeongsangbuk-do Tangible Cultural Heritage #299.

To the left of the Samsyebo-jeon Hall, you’ll find an artificial cave with a stone image of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). And up the hillside, you’ll find the scenically located Samseong-gak Hall. Housed inside this shaman shrine hall are three beautiful paintings of Sanshin, Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), and Chilseong.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Yeongcheon train station, you’ll need to walk about 500 metres, or 10 minutes, to get to the bus stop called “Yeongcheon Gongseol Sijang (Yumyeong Yakguk) – 영천공설시장 (유명약국앞).” From this bus stop, you can board any number of buses. Bus #450 and Bus 450-2, go to Chunghyosa Temple. The bus ride will take over an hour and last 39 stops. Also Bus #450-1 and Bus #451 go to the temple, as well, but there’s an additional stop, so it’ll take 40 stops to get to Chunghyosa Temple. The bus ride also takes over an hour to get to the temple. Bus #451 goes to Chunghyosa Temple, too, and it takes 38 stops and over an hour to Chunghyosa Temple. Finally, Bus #360, Bus #360-1, Bus #361, and Bus #363 all go to Chunghyosa Temple, too. However, the major difference is that it takes these buses two hours to get to the temple. From where all of these buses let you off, which will be at the “Chunghyo 2-ri – 충효2리” Bus Stop, you simply have to cross the road and walk towards the temple about 200 metres. Just follow the signs.

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10. Without a doubt, the main highlight to Chunghyosa Temple is the collection of five hundred white jade statues of the Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha). You’d be hard pressed to see something as equally impressive as this outdoor shrine at Chunghyosa Temple at any other Korean Buddhist temple. In addition, the interior of the Samsaebo-jeon Hall, the large outdoor Jijang-bosal shrine, the highly unique Bukseong (North Star) statue are but a few other things that mark Chunghyosa Temple as an absolute must for those interested in art and/or Buddhism.

The highly stylized guardian lions and Iljumun Gate at Chunghyosa Temple.
The Geumgang-yeoksa at the entry to the Nahan outdoor shrine.
Some of the amazing Nahan statues at Chunghyosa Temple.
Yes, that’s a monkey offering a Nahan a peach.
Another amazing view of the spiraling circle of white jade Nahan statues.
The inner circle to the outdoor circular shrine dedicated to the Nahan.
The outdoor shrine dedicated to Jijang-bosal.
The rows of smaller statues dedicated to the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife.
The stout three-story stone pagoda with the Daeung-jeon Hall behind it.
The lions based five-story stone pagoda with the Samsaebo-jeon Hall in the background.
Inside the Samsyebo-jeon Hall.
A unique statue of Bukseong (The North Star).
Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) inside his artificial cave.
The picturesque Samseong-gak Hall.

Nahan-jeon – The Arhat Hall: 나한전

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The Nahan-jeon Hall at Beomeosa Temple in Geumjeong-gu, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

One of the shrine halls that you’ll see at larger temples is the Nahan-jeon Hall, which is also sometimes called the Eungjin-jeon Hall. So what is a Nahan-jeon Hall? What does it look like? Why is it at a Korean Buddhist temple?

The Nahan-jeon Hall is dedicated to the historical disciples of the Buddha. The Korean word Nahan is a transliteration of “Arhat,” a Sankrit word. And while less accomplished than a Bodhisattva, Nahan are still an exulted and important part of the Buddhist pantheon of religious figures. Nahan carry on the tradition of the Dharma (Buddhist teachings) from generation to generation. Furthermore, the Nahan were instrumental in spreading the message of Buddhism throughout the world. And an important part in continuing this tradition is the Nahan-jeon Hall, which is an embodiment of the highest form that an earthly human can achieve in Buddhism. Simply put, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are otherworldly, Nahan are not yet.

Inside the Nahan-jeon Hall at Baekyangsa Temple in Jung-gu, Ulsan.

As for inside a Nahan-jeon Hall, you’ll typically find sixteen Nahan statues or paintings inside this shrine hall. They surround the central figure of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha), who sits on the main altar and can be joined either by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power), or Yeondeung-bul (The Past Buddha) and Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). Sometimes, however, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find five hundred Nahan inside the Nahan-jeon Hall, too. These five hundred are meant to symbolize all those individuals that were present and participated at the First Council, which is also known as the “Council of the Five Hundred,” in Buddhism. After the Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul’s passing, these five hundred were re-assembled to collect and write the Buddha’s teachings. Typically, if a Nahan-jeon Hall has five hundred Nahan, they’re statues.

In Korea, there are two Nahan-jeon/Eungjin-jeon Halls that are Korean Treasures. The first is the Eungjin-jeon Hall at Bulyeongsa Temple in Uljin, Gyeongsangbuk-do, and the other is at Seonghyeolsa Temple in Yeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do. In addition, there is one National Treasure of a Nahan statue, and four paintings of the Nahan that are Korean Treasures, and four more of the Nahan that are statues that are Korean Treasures, as well.

The Eungjin-jeon Hall at Bulyeongsa Temple in Uljin, Gyeongsangbuk-do.
Inside the Eungjin-jeon Hall at Bulyeongsa Temple.

The sixteen traditional Nahan in Korea are:

Korean NameKorean (Hangeul)SanskritCharacteristicAbility
1. Bindora Balrasa빈도라발라사Piṇḍola BhāradvājaLong eyebrows, mudra hands on lap, thought to be Dokseong (The Lonely Saint)Aids those in the lower realms, conferring wisdom and granting wishes, and protecting people from misfortune.
2. Ganakga Beolcha가낙가벌차KanakavatasaIncense burner in handThose devoted to him will never be separated from their teachers and will be respected by all.
3. Ganakga Ritasa가낙가발리타사Kanaka Bhāradvāja/
Fly whisk in handInvoking him opens opportunities for practicing the six transcendent perfections and developing along the path of Truth.
4. Sobinta소빈타Subinda/
Cleaning earThose who meditate towards him gain fortune and merit and open the way to realization.
5. Nakgeora낙거라Nakula/
Flaming wisdom pearl in left handHas the power to grant the ability for understanding all of the Buddha’s teachings.
6. Baltara발타라Śrībhadra/
Holds a wooden staffAllows people to understand compassion and emptiness. He can also grant wisdom to overcome bad habitual patterns.
7. Gariga가리가Mahākālika/
Gray goatee and hand on kneePraying to him develops compassion and the ability to set others on the right path.
8. Beolsara Buldara벌사라불다라VajriputraScratching his own backHe strengthens concentration and wisdom in those who work for others.
9. Sulbakga술박가Gopaka/JīvakaStomach open revealing a face or BuddhaPersonal physician of the Buddha, also known as the “Medicine King.” People that pray to him are given knowledge of the arts and sciences, and he imparts discriminating awareness, enabling people to teach the Dharma.
10. Bantakga반탁가PanthakaReading a bookAids those who earnestly wish to study, practice and meditate on the Buddha’s teachings.
11. Rahora라호라RāhulaHolds a fly whisk and has gray hairSon of the Buddha. Those who pray to him are cared for by the protective deities.
12. Nagaseona나가서나NāgasenaProtruding forehead, and he’s also sometimes joined by a dragonPraying to him helps free the mind from confusion and awakens confidence in the Three Jewels.
13. Ingyeta인게타AṅgajaGold rings in handLiberates beings from all manner of emotional pain.
14. Beolnabasa벌나바사VanavāsinHands prayingProtects people from distraction and leads them to fulfill their wishes.
15. Asida아시다AjitaGold stickGives the ability to enter into meditation with moral perfection, and he grants protection and steadfast devotion to practice.
Wisdom pearl in right handPraying to him frees one from desire, anger, and ignorance that leads beings to suffering.

Great examples of a Nahan-jeon Hall (Eungjin-jeon Hall) can be found at Tongdosa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do; Daeheungsa Temple in Haenam, Jeollanam-do; Baekyangsa Temple in Jung-gu, Ulsan; and Beomeosa Temple in Geumjeong-gu, Busan. And the greatest example of Nahan statues can be found at Chunghyosa Temple in Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

So the next time you’re at a larger Korean Buddhist temple, have a look around for the Nahan-jeon Hall (Eungjin-jeon Hall). This hall is a great connection to the highest achievements made by earthly humans within Buddhism. Not only that, but you can pray to the Nahan for guidance and support. And hopefully, your prayers will be answered!

Outside the Eunjin-jeon Hall at Daeheungsa Temple.
Inside the Eungjin-jeon Hall at Tongdosa Temple.

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