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바 vs 것 | Live Class Abridged

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This was my most advanced live class to date, but we still got a lot done. I explained how to use the grammar 바, both as a sentence connector and as a noun. There were four different ways to use 바.

Again, this was an Advanced Level lesson, but should still be usable for intermediate learners.

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Nothing's Really Real Podcast: (Ep 78) The Coronavirus Series #7

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It's the seventh episode of this series with Chris Tharp, Sam Hazelton and I. We talk deer hunting. We reflect on our drinking habits and tell stories of our biggest drunken ass-outs, drunk driving, fights and just chaotic white boy partying. That moves us into a discussion of some of the undeniable white privileges we've benefited from in our youth. We wrap it up with a mild debate of tearing down statues and Kanye 2020. 
 
This series has started growing a bit of a following of its own, so, I'd like to send a thanks to the listeners that keep tuning in. The three of us have really appreciated the feedback we've gotten from you all. Thanks a lot.
 
As always, if you do enjoy the show, please help spread the word. Tell a friend about it, and leave a review on iTunes or whatever app you listen to podcasts on. 
That would be very appreciated.

Doseonsa Temple – 도선사 (Mt. Samgaksan, Seoul)

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Doseonsa Temple, below Mt. Samgaksan

Hi, Everyone!

This is Giuseppe with my first contribution to the site. It’s a bit longer than I anticipated, but this temple is jam packed with sights, artifacts, and history. Even more than I was able to mention. I hope you enjoy!

Last year, I asked a friend of mine to recommend a temple to visit in Mt. Bukhansan in Seoul. “Doseonsa is supposed to be nice,” he replied. Looking it up, it did indeed seem like a nice temple with a wealth of history and attractions. When I managed to finally visit it, “nice” turned out to be a massive understatement!

It was first dedicated in 862 A.D., by the renowned monk Doseon-guksa. He had a highly developed ability to read the flow of energy through the mountains and choose the most auspicious placement for temples. Even after Doseon-guksa’s death, Taejo Wang Geon, the founding-king of the Goryeo Dynasty, ordered that no temple should be constructed or expanded except those recommended by Doseon-guksa in the documents he left behind. I can only believe that the placement of Doseonsa Temple, below the triple peaks of the sacred guardian Samgak (Three Horn) Mountain, is a powerful one. Late in the Joseon Dynasty, around 1870, Doseonsa Temple was named the representative temple of Korea. It remains the largest temple complex in Mt. Bukhansan and Seoul’s most historically significant.

The first object of interest (though it’s at the far rear of the temple) is the 8.4 meter Buddha carved into a triangular chunk of granite protruding from the ground. According to legend, Doseon-guksa carved it using only his wooden staff and there are no signs of chisel marks. The carving is now enshrined in a small, walled-off area where a seemingly perpetual group of laypeople are bowing, praying, or reciting sutras.

The entrance to the temple is by the shuttle parking lot, where you immediately come upon the Cheonwangmun Gate. They are carved with fierce expressions, enough to make me wonder whether the chicken wire is meant to keep the pigeons out or keep them in.

Continuing through the gate, the road soon bends, giving the first glimpse of the temple with the massive granite peak looming beyond. There is also a spectacular view of the northern tip of Seoul, perfect for watching the sunrise, framed with mountains fading into the horizon.

Just before reaching the actual temple complex there is a poignant Jijang-bosal, standing tall on a granite pedestal. Among many things, Jijang-bosal is known as a guardian of children and is often depicted holding a child. This statue has a child at his side, reaching up to tug on his robe, but the main feature that caught my attention was the fetus held up in his right hand. After first seeing it, I learned that he is also the guardian of aborted fetuses.

The road continues, steeply, up past the massive building that houses a museum, offices, dining hall, and a small Cheonbul-jeon, Thousand Buddha Hall, crowned with a large Geum-dang, then eventually leads into the courtyard. Centered at the back of the courtyard, facing the Geum-dang is the Daeung-jeon (Dharma Hall) with the beautiful Samseong-gak (Three Spirit Shrine) to the immediate left and the Jijang-jeon on its own separate terrace below, a bit further to the right.

Inside the Dharma Hall is quite stunning, with the glow of pink lanterns illuminating the hall and reflecting off of the three gold shrines, giving the small figures a beautiful pink glow that complements the gold to make a unique aesthetic.

Below the Samseong-gak are low-relief standing Bodhisattvas, cast presumably in bronze and are quite stunning. They include Bohyeon-bosal, Gwanseeum-bosal, and Munsu-bosal, elegantly holding a cup of tea. Around the corner, tucked into the far corner of the structure is a unique Gwaneum-jeon, with the object of worship being a low-relief stone carving of the Bodhisattva and the zig-zagging walls lined with rows of small replicas of the Buddha carving outdoors.

Entering the Samseong-gak, there is a nice Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) statue, sitting on a tiger, with an even nicer Sanshin painting behind it, with two tigers, one yellow and one white. In the middle is a Chilseong-yeorae-bul (The Seven Stars). But it’s really the stone Dokseong statue on the right that steals the show. Though it’s known as Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), it’s style suggests that it was likely originally part of a 16 statue set of Arhats (Buddha’s prime disciples) and at some point in time became separated. But, as it’s long been known as Dokseong, it’s now known as a rare example of him carved in stone.

In the Jijang-jeon, on the right, the main points of interest are the portraits enshrined inside. On the left are President Park Chung Hee, South Korea’s most notorious dictator, and Yuk Yeong Su, parents of the president, Park Geun Hye. On the left side is Hyundai Chairman Chung Ju Yung. I think it’s an interesting display of South Korea’s love/hate relationship with President Park, for his portrait to be enshrined at such a highly revered temple. Though his means were ruthless, he is credited with having pulled the South out of the mud in the decades following the war. “You can spit on my grave,” he famously spoke. First, Yuk Yeong Su was killed during an attempted assassination, then President Park was was assassinated in October, 1979. It’s said that he was a devout Buddhist, though, judging by his rule, he failed to truly grasp the teachings.

Heading across, now, to the large Geum-dang Hall, there is a set of small, but masterfully carved Buddhas. When two of the original set were damaged by fire, they were replaced, in 1740, by Master Monk In Seong and his apprentice, Master Monk Chi Jung. Together, they were known as the premier sculptures of their day. There is a distinctive style, especially in their facial features that give them a recognizable style. The Amita-bul (center) and Daesaeji-bul (left) were the Masters’ work. The Gwanseeum-bosal to the right was from the original set. On the far right wall is a large painting of Cheongdam Daejongsa, a very prominent monk of the 20th Century, who led the Korean Buddhist revival here at Doseonsa Temple. The museum below the Geum-dang is the Cheongdam Daejongsa Memorial Hall, where you can see his personal remains, including his robes, calligraphy set, a dusty old Nikonama camera set, and two staffs that give the impression that they may be holding some magical powers inside. The real treat, though, was seeing his amazing calligraphy on display in the hall.

Across from the Geum-dang, heading there is a trail that leads into the hillside, past the bell pavilion and to a large granite staircase with four terraces, including a statue of Cheongdam Daejongsa, a memorial stone on the back of a dragon-turtle that reminded me A LOT of Bowser from Super Mario Bros, and finally an impressive stone pagoda encircled by a wall of small Buddhas, and a seated Jijang-bosal overlooking in the center. The granite rail surrounding the pagoda has several dragon heads poking up, to add some interesting detail.

There are a few other things to see, but I’ll leave them for you to discover.

HOW TO GET THERE: There is a free shuttle bus up to the temple entrance from across the street from the Uidong bus terminal, or it’s about a 40 minute walk. Several green and blue buses will get you to Uidong, including 151 and 109 (the last stop for both). 109 passes in front of Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung Palaces early in their routes though I caught it at the Jogyesa bus stop. 151 and 109 can both be caught at Mia Station, as well.

OVERALL RATING: 10/10You will not find a better temple than Doseonsa Temple in the Seoul area for its combination of beautiful setting, historical significance, and wonderful artifacts. It also has ties to two hugely significant Seon Masters. And depending on where you live in the city, it’s really not difficult to get to.

One of the Four Heavenly Kings.
Northern tip of Seoul on a misty morning.
Doseonsa Temple’s Daeung-jeon, on a lovely, early fall morning. You can spot the Samseong-gak, just below the lanterns.
Daeung-jeon, with its colorful lantern display.
An interesting shrine that I’m not sure of its significance. It seems to summarize some of the temples history or something similar.
View from the upper terrace, through the entrance of the stone Buddha shrine.
The stone Buddha shrine.
Inside Daeung-jeon, Great Spirit Taenghwa on the left, Daeseaji-bosal, Amita-bul, Gwanseeum-bosal in the center, and Jijang Taenghwa on the right.
The beautiful Jijang-jeon. I always love the blue tiles.
Geum-dang, just before sunrise.
Sanshin, the Mountain Spirit.

Yongjusa Temple – 용주사 (Hwaseong, Gyeonggi-do)

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One of the Four Heavenly Kings at Yongjusa Temple in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Yongjusa Temple, which means “Dragon Jewel Temple,” in English, is located in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi-do. The temple was first established in 854 A.D.  by Yeomgeo Hwasang. Originally, the temple was called Galyangsa Temple. And during the reign of King Gwanjong of Goreyo (r. 949-975 A.D.) the National Preceptor, Hyegeo Guksa, resided at the temple and prayed for the welfare of the nation. And during the 10th century, the temple was further expanded. In 1636, the temple was completely destroyed during the Qing Invasion of Joseon (Dec. 1636 to Jan. 1637). But in 1790, under the orders of King Jeongjo of Joseon (r.1776-1800), the temple was rebuilt to honour King Jeongjo’s deceased father, Crown Prince Sado (1735-1762). Crown Prince Sado was cruelly tortured to death by his father, King Yeongjo of Joseon (r.1724 -1776). To help pacify his father’s spirit, King Jeongjo built Yongjusa Temple. This was one of the few times during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), under the heavy influence of Confucian ideology, that the Joseon royal house supported Buddhism directly. It was also during this time that the temple was renamed Yongjusa Temple. The name of the temple was inspired by a dream that King Jeongjo had. Before moving his father’s tomb to the grounds of Yongjusa Temple, King Jeongjo had a dream where a dragon was ascending to the sky while holding a magic ball in its mouth.

You first enter the temple grounds through the Cheonwangmun Gate, or the “Four Heavenly Kings Gate,” in English. Housed inside this gate are four masterful examples of the Heavenly Kings. With their eye-popping intensity, they’re sure to intimidating all that pass through this gate.

Past the temple admission booth, and up a wandering pathway that passes by a beautiful collection of twisted red pines, you’ll come to the Hongsalmun Gate. With two red painted poles connected across the top beam, this gate speaks to the royal lineage at play at this temple. Typically, this style of gate is to be found at a royal tomb, which hearkens back to the temples royal origins.

Through the neighbouring Sammun Gate that’s adorned with a collection of ancient stone statues, you’ll enter into Yongjusa Temple’s outer courtyard. Housed inside this courtyard is a five story stone pagoda. Just beyond this pagoda is the Boje-ru Pavilion. It’s only after passing under the low-lying ceiling of the Boje-ru Pavilion that you gain admittance to the temple’s inner main courtyard.

Straight ahead rests the Daeungbo-jeon Hall. The main hall dates back to 1790. The exterior walls to the main hall are adorned with Palsang-do (The Eight Scenes from the Buddha’s Life) murals. As for the interior, it’s highly elaborate and ornate. Sitting on the main altar is a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). This statue is joined on either side by Yaksayeorae-bul (The Medicine Buddha, and the Buddha of the Eastern Paradise) and Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). The main altar is backed by a beautiful altar mural. Measuring four metres in height and three metres in width, the altar mural was painted by Kim Hongdo, a famous Korean painter, as well as county magistrate. The main altar is housed under an older-looking datjib (canopy). On either side of the main altar is a mural dedicated to an all-white Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and a Gamno-do mural for the dead.

To the left of the main hall, and slightly to the rear, is the Cheonbul-jeon Hall. Housed inside this hall are a thousand white statues of the Buddha, as well as spherical golden lights that front the golden triad of statues that rest on the main altar. Behind this hall is the temple’s compact Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. All three shaman murals inside the Samseong-gak Hall are highly unique, but it’s the Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) mural that stands out the most with a big headed tiger protectively smiling next to the Mountain Spirit like a Cheshire cat.

To the right of the Samseong-gak Hall, and still to the rear of the main hall and across a bit of a field, is an elegantly designed stupa. In front of this stupa are two more shrine halls at Yongjusa Temple. The first is the Jijang-jeon Hall, which houses a green haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) on the main altar. The exterior walls to this hall depict the various stages of life. The other shrine hall is the Hoseong-jeon Hall. Housed inside this hall are the memorial tablets for Crown Prince Sado. And out in front of this hall is a uniquely designed three story pagoda that’s distinguished by its black body. In Korean writing, it speaks of filial piety.

The final thing that a visitor can enjoy at Yongjusa Temple is also National Treasure #120. The Bronze Bell of Yongjusa Temple dates back to the early part of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), but is reminiscent in style of Silla (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.). The bell has four striking points, or “dangjwa,” in Korean. And it’s adorned with beautiful Bicheon (Heavenly Deities) and a Buddha triad on the side.

Admission to the temple is 1,500 won.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Yongjusa Temple, you’ll first need to get to Byeongjeom Station on Line #1 on the Seoul subway system. From here, you can take any number of buses to the temple from behind the station. Any of the green buses like Bus #34, 34-1, 44, 46, 47, or 50 will go to Yongjusa Temple. From the subway station, the bus ride should take between ten to fifteen minutes.

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10. There are quite a few unique features to Yongjusa Temple which starts with the intense Heavenly King statues inside the Cheonwangmun Gate. This is continued at the Hongsalmun Gate with the crowning red spires reminiscent of a royal tomb in Korea. There are a collection of beautiful murals at Yongjusa Temple which includes the shaman murals inside the Samseong-gak Hall and the altar mural inside the Daeungbo-jeon Hall. And to top it all off, there’s a bronze bell that dates back to the early Goryeo Dynasty that just so happens to be a national treasure, as well.

A walk towards the royal-looking Hongsalmun Gate.
The five story pagoda and Boje-ru Pavilion at Yongjusa Temple.
The Daeungbo-jeon Hall and filial piety pagoda.
A look inside the ornate main hall.
The Daeungbo-jeon Hall under a wintry sky.
National Treasure #120, The Bronze Bell of Yongjusa Temple.
Inside the Cheonbul-jeon Hall.
The green haired Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).
Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) with his Cheshire-style tiger at his side.
The ornate stupa to the rear of the temple grounds.

Bulguksa Temple – 불국사 (Gyeongju)

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The famous Cheongun-gyo (“Blue Cloud Bridge”) and Baekun-gyo (“White Cloud Bridge”) at Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Without a doubt, Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju is the most famous Korean Buddhist temple both in Korea and internationally. Not only is it a UNESCO World Heritage Site from 1995, but it also houses seven National Treasures, six Treasures, and Bulguksa Temple itself is considered a Historic Site by the Korean government.

Bulguksa Temple was first constructed in 528 A.D., which was also the first year that Buddhism was officially accepted by the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C – 935 A.D.) during the reign of King Beopheung (r.514-540 A.D.). The temple was built to appease the wishes of King Beopheung’s mother, Lady Yeongje, and his wife, Queen Gi Yun. Originally, the temple was named Beopryusa Temple or Hwaeom Bulguksa Temple. Later, the temple was rebuilt by King Jinheung’s mother, Lady Jiso.

Then nearly two hundred years later, Minister Kim Daeseong started to rebuild Bulguksa Temple. According to the Samguk Yusa (“Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms,” in English), Kim Daeseong built the temple to help pacify the spirits of his parents. However, before it could be completed in 774 A.D., Kim Daeseong died and the temple was completed by the Silla royal court. It was at this time that Bulguksa Temple was given its current name, which means “Buddha Land Temple,” in English.

Bulguksa Temple was expanded and renovated during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) up until the early Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), until all the wooden buildings at Bulguksa Temple were destroyed by fire by the invading Japanese during the Imjin War (1592-98). Bulguksa Temple was re-constructed in 1604. And in 1700, the original layout of the temple was completely restored. In about 200 years, over 40 renovations took place up until 1805. It was at this point that the temple fell into disrepair and was looted by robbers. Finally, from 1963-73, over a ten year period, the temple was restored to its former glory with twenty-four buildings being reconstructed.

The first structure to greet you, besides the Iljumun Gate at the entry, is the Cheonwangmun Gate just beyond the temple pond. The Cheonwangmun Gate houses four masterful statues of the Four Heavenly Kings.

Having passed through the Cheonwangmun Gate, you’ll come to the most recognizable part of the temple: the temple’s front facade. What makes this part of the temple so unique are the pair of stairs that once led up to the temple grounds but are now off-limits for preservation purposes. The set of stairs to the right is known as Cheongun-gyo (“Blue Cloud Bridge”) and Baekun-gyo (“White Cloud Bridge”). These dual bridge structures were originally built in 751 A.D., and they’re National Treasure #23. The bridges once led up to the Daeung-jeon Hall and are symbolic of passing from the earthly world to the spiritual world of the Buddha.

To the left are the Yeonhwa-gyo (“Lotus Bridge”) and Chilbo-gyo (“Seven Treasures Bridge”). These bridges are National Treasure #22. While smaller in size than the bridges to the east, these bridges were also built in 751 A.D. and are priceless because they are collectively the only known bridges to have survived fully intact from the Silla Kingdom.

Since you can’t climb these stairs anymore, you’ll need to pass to the right up a stone pathway. Once you enter the courtyard that houses the Daeung-jeon Hall, you’ll instantly notice two towering pagodas. The first of the two, and the one closer to you on the right, is Dabo-tap Pagoda, or “The Pagoda of Many Treasures,” which is National Treasure #20. Probably the most famous pagoda in all of Korea was first built in around 751 A.D. during the construction of the temple. And to the left of Dabo-tap Pagoda is Seokga-tap Pagoda, which also dates back to 751 A.D., and means “Seokgamoni-bul Pagoda,” in English. This simplistic pagoda is National Treasure #21.

Behind these two stone pagodas is the temple’s main hall: the Daeung-jeon Hall. The hall was reconstructed in 1765 after it was destroyed by fire in 1593 by the Japanese during the Imjin War (1592-98). The shrine hall is Treasure #1744, and it houses a large statue of the Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul, inside. To the rear of the main hall is the Museol-jeon Hall. The word “museol” means “non-lecturing” in English, while “jeon” means hall. The name of the temple highlights how language sometimes fails and the Buddha’s teachings are beyond words. Rebuilt in 1910, and then later restored in 1973, there’s a beautifully crowned Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) inside with a staff in his hand.

To the rear of the Museol-jeon Hall, and up a steep set of stairs, is the Gwaneum-jeon Hall. Inside is housed a slender statue of the Bodhisattva of Compassion with a mural of the Bodhisattva with a thousand hands. These hands are symbolic of Gwanseeum-bosal reaching out to those in need. It’s also from this vantage point that you get an amazing view of the lower courtyard that houses the Daeung-jeon Hall below.

Through a doorway to the left, and down an equally steep set of stairs that gained you admittance to the courtyard where the Gwaneum-jeon Hall is housed, is the Biro-jeon Hall. Housed inside this shrine hall is Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). The statue of Birojana-bul dates back to the 9th century and is National Treasure #26. Seated 1.77 metres in height, Birojana-bul is making the mudra of the Diamond Fist. Still in the same courtyard, but to the far left, is a Sari-tap. This beautiful stone structure is believed to date back to the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). While damaged by the Japanese, the Sari-tap was eventually returned to the Korean peninsula in the 1930s. The stupa is Korean Treasure #61, and it purportedly houses either the remains of eight monks or the remains of King Heongang’s Queen (the king’s reign was from 875-886 A.D.).

The final building in the upper courtyard is the Nahan-jeon Hall. Housed inside this hall are sixteen wooden statues of the Nahan who were the Disciples of the Historical Buddha). Surrounding the hall are hundreds of stone cairns of all sizes that visitors have left behind for good luck.

Descending down an easier set of stairs than the former two, you’ll be greeted by the Geukrak-jeon Hall, which rests parallel, and to the left of the Daeung-jeon Hall, in a courtyard of its own. Out in front of the hall is a golden pig that you can rub for good luck. Housed inside this hall is a statue of Amita-bul that’s National Treasure #27. If you look close enough inside this hall, you’ll see an older style Dragon Ship of Wisdom, as well as a wooden relief of a golden pig, as well.

Admission to the temple for adults is 6,000 won and for children, ages 8 to 12, it’s 3,000 won. For teenagers, ages 13 to 18, it’s 4,000 won. And if you drive, parking at Bulguksa Temple costs 1,000 won.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal, you can take either Bus #10 or #11 that goes directly to Bulguksa Temple. The ride takes about one hour in length to get to the temple.

OVERALL RATING: 10/10. Bulguksa Temple, alongside Tongdosa Temple and Haeinsa Temple, are the top three temples in all of Korea to visit. Like the two former temples, Bulguksa Temple is also a UNESCO Heritage Site. It has an amazing seven national treasures like Dabo-tap Pagoda, Seokga-tap Pagoda, the pair of bridges along the front facade of the temple, and shrine hall statues dedicated to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) and Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). There is so much to see and enjoy at this amazing temple in Gyeongju, so take your time and soak it all in. Enjoy all this majestic temple has to offer. It truly is a one-off.

 

Outside the main courtyard.
Dabo-tap Pagoda.
Seokga-tap Pagoda.
The Daeung-jeon Hall.
The steep stairs that lead up to the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.
The amazing view from the Gwaneum-jeon Hall courtyard.
A look at Birojana-bul (National Treasure #26)
Just in front of the Nahan-jeon Hall during Buddha’s Birthday celebrations.
The highly photogenic front facade at Bulguksa Temple.

 


Silleuksa Temple – 신륵사 (Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do)

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The picturesque pagoda at Silleuksa Temple in Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Silleuksa Temple, which means “Divine Bridle Temple,” in English, is located in Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do. The origins of the temple are rather hazy. Lost in the fog of time. It’s believed by some that the temple was established during the reign of King Jinpyeong of Silla (r.579-632 A.D.). On the other hand, some believe that the temple was founded by the famed monk, Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.). As for the name of the temple itself, and according to temple legend, there was an uncontrollable horse that was reined in by the power of the Buddha. In 1469, Silleuksa Temple became the prayer sanctuary to the royal mausoleum to the great King Sejong (r.1418-1450). Currently, Silleuksa Temple is home to seven Korean Treasures. Also, the temple is nicknamed “The Wall Temple,” for the three famous pagodas that take up residence on the temple grounds.

You’ll first approach the temple grounds from the west with the Temple Stay facilities to your left. After passing through a guardian gate with two fiercely painted Vajra Warriors on the entry doors, you’ll notice the Han River to your right. Past the pavilion and next to the serene river waters, you’ll finally come to the outskirts of the main temple grounds.

The first temple building to greet you at Silleuksa Temple is the Boje-ru Pavilion. To the right of this temple pavilion, and past a stone marker, you’ll finally gain entry to the main temple courtyard. Straight ahead is the beautiful eight story marble pagoda that dates back to 1472 and is Treasure #225. But according to Korean art historians, the pagoda is believed to have been taller than its current eight stories. The marble pagoda is masterfully adorned with dragons and lotus carvings, and it’s beautifully framed by the Geukrakbo-jeon main hall at Silleuksa Temple. The exterior walls to the main hall are adorned with Shimu-do, or “Ox-Herding murals,” in English. As for inside the Geukrakbo-jeon Hall, you’ll find a seated statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) sitting in the centre of the main altar. Amita-bul is joined by two standing statues: one of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and the other of Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul).

To the rear of the Geukrakbo-jeon Hall, and slightly to the left, you’ll find the historic Josa-dang Hall. The hall is believed to have been built early on during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) during the reign of King Yejong of Joseon (r. 1468-69). Inside are housed three portraits dedicated to the monks Naong (1320-76), Muhak (1327-1405), and Jigong (d.1363). Not only is this hall the oldest at Silleuksa Temple, but it’s also Korean Treasure #180.

To the left of the Josa-dang Hall is the Myeongbu-jeon Hall. Inside is housed a green haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) on the main altar. He’s joined on both sides by seated statues of the Ten Kings of the Underworld. Just outside this hall is an altar with a highly original piece of circular artwork also dedicated to Jijang-bosal. To the rear of this hall are a collection of stupas that house the remains of past monks like Naong. The bell-shaped stupa is for Naong is Korean Treasure #228.

To the right of the Geukrakbo-jeon Hall, and past the monks’ dorms, is the Samseong-gak Hall. Inside this shaman shrine hall, you’ll find some of the most original paintings dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars), Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) in all of Korea.

Now, with a walk towards the Han River once more, you’ll come across a hillside brick pagoda. This brick pagoda is only among a handful of such pagodas in Korea like at Songnimsa Temple in Daegu and Bunhwangsa Temple in Gyeongju. This six-story brick pagoda is Korean Treasure #226, and it’s believed to date back to the early part of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). To the rear of the pagoda is the stele for the Daejang-gak, which was a two-story library built during the late Goryeo Dynasty. The stele is believed to date back to 1383, and it’s Korean Treasure #230.

The most picturesque part of Silleuksa Temple is past the brick pagoda and down the embankment. Perched alongside the historic pagoda is a pavilion that people can enjoy the peace and quiet of the flowing river. This part of the temple is also the most photogenic.

Admission to the temple is 2,000 won.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Silleuksa Temple, you’ll first need to get to Dong Seoul Bus Terminal. From there, take the bus bound for Yeoju. The first bus leaves at 6:30 a.m., and the final bus leaves at 10:30 p.m. These buses leave every thirty minutes. From the Yeoju Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to catch Bus #980. You can catch this bus after leaving the terminal and heading right for about 100 metres. Cross the road and you can catch Bus #980 from this stop. Finally, you’ll need to get off at the Silleuksa Temple bus stop.

OVERALL RATING: 9/10. There is just so much to love about Silleuksa Temple. The first is probably the picturesque location of the temple next to the tranquil Han River that flows just south of the temple grounds. And when you add into the mix the seven Korean Treasures like the pair of pagodas, the Josa-dang Hall, Naong’s bell-shaped stupa, and the highly original shaman murals inside the Samseong-gak Hall, you’ll have more than enough reason to travel to Yeoju in Gyeonggi-do.

One of the Vajra Warriors at the entry of Silleuksa Temple.
The Geukrakbo-jeon main hall.
The marble pagoda that’s Korean Treasure #225.
Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).
A snowy day at Silleuksa Temple.
Inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.
The six story brick pagoda that’s Korean Treasure #226.
The amazing view along the Han River at Silleuksa Temple.

Korean Test Practice with Billy [Ep. 26] – Intermediate Korean (Listening Practice)

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Are you preparing for a Korean test, or do you just want to try out a Korean language test question? Then this series is for you.

This question's difficulty is intermediate level, but depending on where on the intermediate scale you are it might be easier or more difficult. Give it a try! And let me know how you did.

Here is the listening example:

여러분 안녕하세요. 저는 오늘부터 이 북클럽에 새로 참여하게 된 26살 김영희라고 합니다. 저는 초등학교 교사로 일하고 있습니다. 여기는 동료 교사인 김철수 씨 소개로 가입하게 되었습니다. 가장 좋아하는 책은 “곰과 함께 역사를 기억한다”입니다. 역사 소설을 읽는 것을 좋아하지만 다양한 장르의 책을 읽고 싶어서 북클럽을 찾게 되었습니다. 모임에 빠지지 않는 게 저의 목표입니다. 만나서 반갑습니다.

Hello everyone. I’m Kim Yung-hee and I’m 26 years old, and from today I’m participating in this book club as a new member. I’m working as an elementary school teacher. I joined here due to the recommendation of Kim Chul-soo, who’s a fellow teacher. My favorite book is “Remembering History with Bears.” I like reading historical novels, but I’d like to read a variety of genres of books so I found the book club. My goal is to not miss any meetings. Nice to meet you.

The post Korean Test Practice with Billy [Ep. 26] – Intermediate Korean (Listening Practice) appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.


Waujeongsa Temple – 와우정사 (Yongin, Gyeonggi-do)

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The Golden Headed Buddha at the Entry of Waujeongsa Temple in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Waujeongsa Temple was first established in 1970 by the monk Kim Hae-geum. Kim was a displaced monk from the Korean War, so he built the temple to honour this displacement. The stated goal of Waujeongsa Temple is the reunification of the Korean peninsula. It’s also the birthplace and headquarters to the highly unique Korean Buddhist Nirvana Order. And Waujeongsa Temple is located in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do.

Waujeongsa Temple is located on the southern slopes of Mt. Eunesan (363.3m). You first approach the temple by passing through the gravel temple parking lot. The very first thing you’ll notice is the massive golden Buddha’s head, which is called a “Buldu,” in Korean. The head is perched next to an artificial pond. The wooden head is the largest of its kind in the world by standing eight metres in height. Because of its sheer size, the Buldu is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Past the artificial pond and the giant Buddha head, you’ll make your way to the rest of the temple grounds. The first site is a collection of pagodas that are both unique in style and meaning. These pagodas are made from stones from various religious sites throughout the rest of the world and reassembled to form the pagodas at Waujeongsa Temple. To the right of these pagodas is the temple’s main hall. The newly built main hall lacks the traditional dancheong colour scheme that makes Korean Buddhist temples so unique. Housed inside the main hall are a collection of five statues centred by Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). And to the right of the main hall is a twelve ton Unification Bell that is gold in colour. It was cast at the start of the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

Spread throughout the rest of the temple grounds are over three thousand statues which starts with the twelve diminutive zodiac generals that stand out in front of the main hall. They are joined to the left of the main hall by a contemplative bronze statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha).

A little further along, and up a gradual incline along the pathway, are a pair of ferocious Vajra Warriors. These statues help protect the entry to an artificial cave that houses a twelve metre long statue of a reclining Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). This statue is known as a “Wabul,” in Korean, and it was made from juniper trees from Indonesia.

To the right of this artificial cave shrine is a cathedral-like shrine hall that houses a Thai-influenced statue of the Buddha. The ornate hall is beautifully adorned with intricate stain-glass windows. And to the left of this hall are a collection of cairn-like pagodas that are reminiscent of the ones found at Tapsa Temple. You’ll make your way up a path that leads you past a peeling collection of Palsang-do (The Eight Scenes from the Buddha’s LIfe) murals. While slowly losing their battle with time, these murals are still intact enough to appreciate their beauty.

It’s in this area that you’ll also notice a semi-circle of stone that acts as a shrine for the Nahan. These five hundred statues are masterfully executed. A little further up the pathway, and you’ll see the final shrine hall at Waujeongsa Temple. This cave-like shrine hall is adorned with large pillars, swirling Bicheon, and a domed roof. I believe that a few of the Buddha’s sari (crystallized remains) are housed at Waujeongsa Temple inside this hall.

Admission to the temple is free.

HOW TO GET THERE: There are two ways that you can get to Waujeongsa Temple from Seoul. The first is from Jamsil Station, Line #2. Take either exit #6 or #7 and board Bus #5600 or #5800 to Yongin Intercity Bus Terminal. Again, board a bus; this time, for Wonsam. Get off at the Waujeongsa Temple stop.

The other way that you can get to Waujeongsa Temple from Seoul is by catching a bus from Gangnam Station, Line #2. After going out exit #10, you can take either Bus #5001 or #5002 to Yongin Intercity Bus Terminal. Again, board a bus destine for Wonsam. And again, get off at the Waujeongsa Temple stop. All buses bound for Wonsam come at about fifteen minute intervals.

OVERALL RATING: 9/10. For its originality alone, Waujeongsa Temple gets a nine out of ten rating. There are very few temples in Korea like it from its massive golden Buddha head at the entry, to the thousands of statues spread throughout the grounds, to the patchwork of pagodas from around the world, to the paintings, and the cave shrine hall that houses some sari (crystallized remains) from the Buddha. You’d be hard-pressed to find a temple with such unique attributes.

The Buldu Buddha’s Head at the entry of the temple grounds at Waujeongsa Temple.
The patchwork pagodas at Waujeongsa Temple.
Two from the thousands of statues at the temple.
The main hall at Waujeongsa Temple.
The contemplative Mireuk-bul statue to the left of the main hall.
The cave shrine hall that houses the reclining Buddha inside.
The Thai influenced Buddha.
The headstone statues of the 500 Nahan.
One of the daughter’s of Mara.
The shrine hall that houses the Buddha’s sari.


LTW: A Mayor's Suicide and Memorial Expenses

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PARK Won-soon, the mayor of Seoul and the 2nd most influential person after President Moon Jae-in, took his own life on July 9 after a sexual harassment complaint by his ex-secretary was filed a day earlier. First elected mayor of Korea's capital in 2011 in a by-election, Park was reelected in 2014 and 2016, with two years left in his term. Park was also expected to run for presidency in 2022 for the current ruling Democratic Party of Korea.

An irony is that long time civic activist Park gained his reputation after winning Korea's first sexual harassment case in 1998 as a lawyer for a female assistant professor , which led to Female Rights Activist of the Year award for Park. Another blck eye for the ruling party whose Mayor of Busan, Korea's 2nd largest city, resigned three months ago over sexual offense against his secretary, and whose Governor of Chungnam Province is currently serving in jail on sexual assaults against, again, his secretary. A controversy arose over an extravagant mortuary set up by the City of Seoul for use until the funeral on July 13 . "Why tax payer's money for sex offender? vs. "Why not for Park's 10 year dedication for Seoul ?"



 Seoul became the capital of Korea 626 years ago after a military coup in 1388 by General Lee Sung-gye who defied his king's order to attack the emerging Ming dynasty in China. Gen Lee changed the country name from Koryo to Chosun, and moved the capital from Kaesong, just above DMZ where Kim Jong-un recently blew up the N-S Liaison Office, to Seoul in 1394 because Lee valued the advantage of a big river around Seoul. Lee built his palace where it still stands in the center of Seoul. The name Chosun is still alive as North Korea calls its country Democratic Republic of Chosun People. Yep. North Korea is a democratic nation just like a mosquito is a bird.


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