Sujeongsa Temple – 수정사 (Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

The Main Altar Inside the Daeung-jeon Hall at Sujeongsa Temple in Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Temple History

Sujeongsa Temple is a popular name for temples in Korea. However, this Sujeongsa Temple is located in Cheongsong, Gyeongsangsangbuk-do to the southwest of Mt. Bibongsan (670.9 m). It’s believed that the temple was first founded by the monk Naong Hyegeun (1320-1376) during the reign of King Gongmin of Goryeo (r. 1351-1374). And the reason that Naong named the temple Sujeongsa Temple, which means “Crystal Temple” in English, is because the surrounding scenery around the temple was beautiful. Additionally, the spring water that flowed from the mountains and into the valley where Sujeongsa Temple was located was crystal clear.

Originally, Sujeongsa Temple was eight or nine buildings in size. Also, it was located about one hundred metres away from its current location. However, all the buildings were destroyed by fire about 300 years ago, so the temple moved later to its current location. Sujeongsa Temple was rebuilt during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

Recently, and in a field in front of the current Iljumun Gate, the remains of foundation stones that appear to be those of a pagoda were found. This evidence helped prove the location of the former temple site that had only been handed down as a possibility. From this evidence, combined with former speculation, it’s believed that Sujeongsa Temple was once a very large temple in possession of a lot of land. Currently, this temple is run by nuns.

The Daeung-jeon Hall at Sujeongsa Temple in Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do is Gyeongsangbuk-do Cultural Heritage Material #73.

Temple Layout

At the end of a long valley, and next to a meandering stream, you’ll find Sujeongsa Temple. As you approach the temple from the west, you’ll find the aforementioned Iljumun Gate. This slender entry gate is about a kilometre out from the rest of the temple grounds. Eventually, you’ll find yourself in the temple parking lot. Just to the right of the nuns’ dorms, and to the left, you’ll find yourself squarely at the edge of the main temple courtyard.

There are just a couple of shrine halls at Sujeongsa Temple. Straight ahead of you is the Daeung-jeon Hall. The exterior walls to the main hall are adorned with various Buddhist motif murals. Stepping inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, and resting on the main altar, are a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). This central image is joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). These statues are white and gold and backed by a stunning gold-leaf main altar mural. To the left of the main altar are two additional paintings. The first of the two is dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars), while the other is a Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural). And to the right of the main altar is a mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).

To the right rear of the Daeung-jeon Hall, you’ll find a compact shrine hall. This is the temple’s Sanshin-gak Hall, which is dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). While the exterior walls to this shaman shrine hall are plainly adorned in simple dancheong colours, with the roof adorned with manja, the interior houses a large, elaborate painting dedicated to Sanshin. And the Mountain Spirit is joined by a golden-eyed tiger that acts as his companion.

How To Get There

The easiest way to get to the rather remote Sujeongsa Temple in Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do is to take a taxi from the Cheongsong Intercity Bus Terminal. The ride should take about 15 minutes, over 12 km, and it’ll cost you around 15,000 won (one way).

Overall Rating: 6/10

While there isn’t one outstanding main highlight to Sujeongsa Temple in Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do, there is an accumulation of several smaller highlights like the architecture of the Daeung-jeon Hall, the main altar triad inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, the Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) painting inside the shaman shrine hall, as well as the beautiful mountains that surround the temple. It all adds up to make for a nice little visit to a lesser known temple in a lesser traveled part of Korea.

The historic Daeung-jeon Hall at Sujeongsa Temple.
A closer look at the Daeung-jeon Hall with the Sanshin-gak Hall in the background.
One of the murals that adorns the Daeung-jeon Hall.
The main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.
A look up inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.
Chilseong (The Seven Stars).
The Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural) inside the main hall.
Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).
The Sanshin-gak Hall.
The mural dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) inside the shaman shrine hall.