Naewonjeongsa Temple – 내원정사 (Seo-gu, Busan)

The Golden Pagoda Inside the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall at Naewonjeongsa Temple in Seo-gu, Busan.

Temple History

Naewonjeongsa Temple is located east of Mt. Gudeoksan (560 m) in Seo-gu, Busan. Naewonjeongsa Temple is a modern temple with it first being established in 1973. Then in 1983, the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall was completed. This was subsequently followed with the building of the temple’s Gwaneum-jeon Hall, the Yosachae (monks’ dorms), and the Jong-ru Pavilion. And in 1990, the Manbul-jeon Hall was built.

Naewonjeongsa Temple is home to a pair of Busan Metropolitan City Tangible Cultural Property. They are the “Jineonjib” and the “Josang-gyeong.” They are a collection of sutras from a collection of woodblocks. In addition to these woodblocks, Naewonjeongsa Temple is home to another Busan Metropolitan City Tangible Cultural Property. This time it’s the Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) statue that dates back to 1730.

A copy of the Josang-gyeong. (Picture courtesy of the CHA).

Temple Layout

You’ll first approach Naewonjeongsa Temple through the mid-sized parking lot and past the numerous mountain hikers in the region. The first structure to greet you at the temple is the front facade. In the centre of the front facade is a two-story structure. The first story, with stairs to climb up to the main temple courtyard, is the Cheonwangmun Gate. Both sides of the Cheonwangmun Gate are adorned with two murals of the Four Heavenly Kings. And the front entry doors are adorned with two guardian murals. Additionally, the ceiling of the Cheonwangmun Gate is adorned with dragons and phoenixes. The second story of this entryway structure, and looking back once you’ve climbed the main temple courtyard stairs, is the Jong-ru Pavilion. Housed inside this bell pavilion are the four traditional Buddhist percussion instruments. All are beautiful in design.

To the right and left of the Jong-ru Pavilion, and lining the temple courtyard, are two rows of temple buildings. These buildings are the administrative offices, visitors centre, and monks’ quarters. There is also a nice row of plum trees to accompany these temple buildings to the right.

Straight ahead of you is the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall. Surrounding the exterior walls to the main hall are an assortment of paintings. To the rear are a colourful collection of Shimu-do (Ox-Herding Murals) that are joined by a beautiful set of Buddha and Bodhisattva paintings. In addition to these murals is the rarely painted Dokseong (Lonely Saint) and Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) murals that appear on either side of the main hall’s exterior walls. And backing the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall is a mature bamboo forest.

The interior of the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall is golden. This is highlighted by the large, golden pagoda that sits in the centre of the main altar. This five-story pagoda is joined by two large sized statues of what appear to be Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). To the right of the golden pagoda is a golden relief dedicated to Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom). And to the right of this relief is yet another golden relief. This second golden relief is dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). And the final golden relief to the right of the main altar is dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). To the left of the main altar pagoda, on the other hand, and the first of these golden reliefs, is a golden relief dedicated to Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). This is then joined to the left by another golden relief; this one, dedicated to the Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural). And the final golden relief to the left of the main altar, and the largest of the set, is a Yeongsan Hoesang-do (The Sermon on Vulture Peak Painting). Rounding out the interior of the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall are two towers filled with miniature statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas next to the main altar. As you can tell, the main hall at Naewonjeongsa Temple is filled with dazzling Buddhist artistry.

To the right of the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall is the temple’s Samseong-gak Hall. The artwork inside this shaman shrine hall are dedicated to the three most popular shaman deities in Korean Buddhism. They are Chilseong (The Seven Stars), Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). All three are done in a dominant blackish hue and are beautifully executed.

How To Get There

From the Seodaesin subway stop, stop #107, on the Busan subway system, you’ll need to take a taxi to get to Naewonjeongsa Temple. The ride should cost around 4,000 won (one way), and the ride should last about 10 minutes over 2.6 km.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10

Without a doubt, the main highlight to Naewonjeongsa Temple is the interior of the main hall with it’s five-story golden pagoda, the six golden reliefs and the exterior wall paintings that include Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and shaman deities. In addition to the main hall, both the percussion instruments inside the Jong-ru Pavilion and the black shaman murals inside the Samseong-gak Hall are beautiful, as well.

The two-in-one Cheonwangmun Gate and Jong-ru Pavilion at Naewonjeongsa Temple.
The painting of Damun Cheonwang, who is one of the Four Heavenly Kings, inside the Cheonwangmun Gate.
A yellow dragon painting that adorns the ceiling of the Cheonwangmun Gate.
The mokeo (wooden fish drum) inside the second story Jong-ru Pavilion.
The demon-like beopgo (dharma drum) inside the second story Jong-ru Pavilion, as well.
The beautiful Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall at Naewonjeongsa Temple.
The painting dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) that adorns one of the exterior walls of the main hall.
A look inside the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall at the golden pagoda on the main altar.
The Samseong-gak Hall.
With a painting of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) inside.
A look up at the eaves of the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall and the Samseong-gak Hall.