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Where Does It Snow In Korea? 25 Best Korean Snow Spots

If you’re travelling to Korea this winter, you have the chance to see snow-capped mountains, Korean temples blanketed in snow, and many other unique sights from the Land of Morning Calm. So, where does it snow in Korea and what are the best places to see snow?

The good news is, you don’t have to go too far to see snow in Korea, especially if you’re visiting during the snowiest months – January and February. From Jeju Island to Seoul, there are snowy sights across Korea to enjoy this winter.

Find out for yourself why Korea is known as the ‘land of high mountains and sparkling streams’ by witnessing the natural beauty of Korea blanketed in snow at one of these fun winter locations.

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Where does it snow in Korea 1

Best Places To See Snow In Korea

There are various kinds of winter snow spots where you can have fun playing in the snow, including ski resorts, festivals, national parks, and family fun attractions across Korea.

I am recommending these places as I’ve visited (or had friends visit) many of them. Others are unmissable spots in Korea with great reputations for winter fun. I personally love to go hiking a lot during winter as it’s so much fun to see the snowy peaks.

This article will cover more than 25 different locations where you can see snow in Korea and introduce unique and interesting activities that you can do in these areas.

Please note: if you’re looking for places to enjoy snow in Seoul, then you should check out the article below instead:

Where To See Snow In Seoul
Where does it snow in Korea 2

When Does It Snow In Korea?

The first snowfall in Korea in 2021 was in October, falling on the slopes of Seoraksan Mountain before the autumn leaves had even finished coming out. That was earlier than usual, the highest mountains typically see snowfall in early November.

You’re most likely to see snow in Korea in January and February as these are the coldest months, with temperatures around 0 degrees (and colder at night).

You can see snow in Korea from late November to early March, however, I’d recommend visiting from late December to mid-February for the best chance to see snow.

Where to see snow in Korea 3

Where Does It Snow In Korea?

It typically snows more in the mountains than in the cities. Korea is 70% mountainous, though, which means there are loads of places to see snow in Korea.

The tallest mountains will have snow throughout January and February, making them the best places to see snow in Korea. They also see the first and last snow fall each year.

You can still see snow in other areas, even on the palm-tree lined beaches of Jeju Island! Snow can fall anywhere in Korea and the whole country is cold in winter.

However, snow is relatively rare outside the mountainous areas and there are often only 3-4 weeks per year where it will snow in Korean cities, and this is not constant.

More Fun Facts About Korea
Where does it snow in Korea 4

1: Visit Winter Attractions In Korea

Korea has many wonderful attractions to see during winter. They’re fun places to visit any time of the year, but excel in winter when the snow falls.

You can visit a lot of these on day tours from Seoul and other major cities. Where there are tour options, I will add links for your convenience.

Here are some of the best attractions to see when it’s snowing:

Where to see snow in Korea 5

Nami Island

Nami Island, famous for its long, tree-lined walkways, unique statues, and cosy cafes, provides dozens of photo-worthy spots to enjoy the snowy sights, as well as snowman statues and winter lights. Not only can you witness the natural beauty of Nami Island covered in snow, you can also experience cultural festivals, see the island’s wildlife, and ride around the island on a rented bike.

Nami Island Transport Options
Where does it snow in Korea 6
Image Credit: KTO

Gangchon Railbike

Pedalling your way along an abandoned railway track with views of the Bukhan River and forested valleys all covered in snow is the perfect way to spend a sunny winter’s day. Located close to Nami Island (and available for day trips from Seoul), the Gangchon Railbike offers a chance to get out and see Korean nature draped in snowy blankets.

Gangchon Railbike Park
Where does it snow in Korea 7
Image Credit: KTO

Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm

Tucked away in the ‘Alps of Korea’, the Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm is an interesting place to explore Korea’s winter scenery on a snowy day. Gaze at the fields and surrounding forests blanketed in snow whilst trying to find the camouflaged sheep. The Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm is located close to Gangneung City on Korea’s east coast, a city that has lots of lovely seaside cafes to stay warm in during winter.

Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm
Where does it snow in Korea 8

Onyang Hot Springs

The hot waters of Onyang Hot Springs (온양온천지구), Asan, are the ideal remedy for the cold winter weather, and also provide a unique place to see falling snow. Sit outside in the steaming hot water while snow falls from above and melts into the pool. Not only are the hot springs a relaxing place to enjoy winter in Korea, they’ll do wonders for your body with their healing waters.

Onyang Hot Springs
Where does it snow in Korea 9

Wondaeri Birch Forest

The Wondaeri Birch Forest near Inje, home to more than 700,000 silvery birch trees, provides a peaceful winter trek through the snow. There are many paths to explore in this tranquil forest, winding through the tall trees, with plenty of photo-worthy spots and places to sit and contemplate the scenery. The four main trekking courses are:

  • Birch Forest Course
    (0.9km, 40-50 mins)
  • Healing Course
    (1.5km, 1.5 hrs)
  • Exploration Course
    (1.1km, 40 mins)
  • Healing Course
    (2.4km, 1.5 hrs)
Wondaeri Birch Forest
Where does it snow in Korea 10

2: Explore Korean Winter Festivals

Korea loves to hold festivals in all seasons, and winter provides some of the most interesting festivals of the whole year. These festivals celebrate the winter snow and activities that you can enjoy best when the temperature drops below zero.

Wrap up warm and head to these festivals for the best sights of snow in Korea and also to have a fun day out. From fishing in icy lakes, to evening strolls through snowy winter illuminations, there are so many charming ways to enjoy seeing snow.

Please note: some festivals may not run in 2021/2022 due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions. Check with the festival’s website to confirm.

Where does it snow in Korea 11

Ice Fishing Festivals

A wonderfully unique place to experience snowy (and icy) fun in Korea is at one of the big ice-fishing festivals held in January and February. These are held in smaller towns across the country and offer you the chance to try a range of activities in snowy surroundings.

Here are some of the biggest and best ice fishing festivals in Korea. For more info on each one, check out my article about Korean winter festivals below.

Winter Festivals In Korea
Where does it snow in Korea 12

Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Fishing Festival

This festival claims to be one of the 4 best winter festivals in the world and is one of my favourite Korean winter festivals. Located in the northern city of Hwacheon and running for more than 3 weeks in January, this festival gives you the chance to experience life as an ice fisher, trying to catch your lunch even when the water is frozen. You can also enjoy a range of other wintry attractions, including sledding, ice sculptures, and bare-handed ice fishing.

Pyeongchang Trout Ice Fishing Festival

Home to the 2018 Winter Olympics, you can understand why Pyeongchang would be the perfect place to host this winter festival. The main draw at this festival is the chance to catch (and then cook) your own lunch. Head over to the large icy river and get ready to fish.

Where does it snow in Korea 13

Inje Ice Fishing Festival

This winter festival has a lot more to offer than just ice fishing. Running for more than 20 years, the Inje Ice Fishing Festival has developed a range of other activities for fun in the snow. You’ll find family-friendly areas such as the Ice Playground and Snow Playground. There are loads of ice and snow-based winter activities and sports for all ages.

Hongcheon Ggong Ggong River Ginseng Trout Festival

Want to try an ice fishing festival in Korea with a difference? Then head to the Hongcheon Ggong Ggong River Ginseng Trout Festival, where the fish are fed on a diet of 6-year old Hongcheon Gingseng. Besides the healthy lunch you can catch with your bare hands, there is also a lot of wintry fun to be had nearby, including Vivaldi Park Snow World for ice sledding and the ice sculpture exhibition.

Where does it snow in Korea 14

Winter Illumination Festivals

What’s better than seeing the glittering white snow? How about millions of colourful lights reflected in that snow, creating a crystalline carpet of colours in some great gardens and parks? You’ll find incredibly colourful displays at these festivals. There are lots of winter lights festivals across Korea, including many that you can visit on a day trip from Seoul.

Here are some of the best winter lights festivals that will look incredible in the snow. For more info on each one, check out my article about Korean winter festivals below.

Winter Festivals In Korea
Where does it snow in Korea 15

Garden Of Morning Calm Lighting Festival

The Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival is one of the top spots to visit during the dark, wintry days. Walking through the gardens when the sun has set is like entering into a magical world, a true winter fantasia. Explore the diverse themed areas that focus on animals, plants, and even love. A great place to take your loved one for some romantic memories walking between the electric forests and white snow.

Garden Of Morning Calm

The Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival can be enjoyed together with a trip to Nami Island and the Gangchon Railbike, providing a fun snowy day out from Seoul. You can book discounted tour tickets for these below:

Herb Island Light Festival

These herb gardens transform into an electric circus of lights, illuminations, and wonderful displays in winter. Herb Island also has a Santa’s Village area, with over 300 Santa Clauses to meet. Great for unforgettable snowy Christmas pics. This winter festival is a place for lovers to share a romantic stroll, or for friends to make lasting memories of their adventures together. Families will also enjoy a magical time here.

Herb Island Light Festival
Where does it snow in Korea 16

Boseong Green Tea Plantation Winter Light Festival

One of the oldest winter festivals in Korea, the Boseong Green Tea Plantation Light Festival turns the lush green tea fields into a wonderful display of lights and lanterns. Come to Boseong on a day trip from Seoul and see the winter lights, snowy fields, and take in all the unique displays, romantic photo zones, and Christmas decorations.

Boseong Winter Light Festival
Where does it snow in Korea 17

Winter Theme Park Festivals

You might not think about visiting a theme park in winter, but there are actually a lot of fun things to do in this season, including some big winter festivals that embrace the cold weather and give you a chance to enjoy snowy sights.

Although several of the major theme parks are in Seoul, which I’ve covered in the article below, I’ll include the two biggest theme parks here for your information. On a snowy day, they’ll be a great place for a family fun day out.

Where To See Snow In Seoul
Where does it snow in Korea 18

Everland Christmas Fantasy Festival

Everland is one the best theme parks in Korea, and a fun place to enjoy snow and winter activities. The festivals on offer change each year, but typically include a Christmassy-style festival in November and December and then a snow-based festival from January until early March. In winter 2022 you can experience the Romantic Illumination Festival, featuring more than 120,000 LED lights, which runs until March 1, 2022.

Everland Theme Park
Where does it snow in Korea 19

Lotte World Christmas Miracle

As you can see from the picture above, Lotte World in Jamsil, Seoul, takes a lot from Disneyland and even has a fantasy-themed ‘Magic Island’, which sits in the lovely Seokchon Lake. For families looking for a magical place to see snow in Korea, then the Lotte World Christmas Miracle is for you. There are Christmas decorations, parades, carols, an appearance from Santa Claus, and a lot of photo-worthy spots to see the snow. If it gets too cold, the good news is that the rest of the theme park, Lotte World Adventure, is indoors.

Lotte World Adventure
Where does it snow in Korea 20

Snow & Ice Festivals

What could be a better place to see snow in Korea than at a festival dedicated to the powdery white goodness? There are a couple of big festivals that run in January each winter, where you have a good chance to see snow and enjoy a wide range of snowy activities, too.

Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival

The Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival offers you the chance to see rural Korea, up in the mountains of Taebaeksan National Park. Walk among gigantic snow and ice sculptures and try a spot of hiking, too. You can enjoy snow sliding, snow hiking, pop into an ice igloo, and see the various performances at this festival. Come on the weekend for performances, or any time for snowy beauty. Taebaeksan is one of the best regions to hike and see snow in Korea, so don’t miss it.

Taebaeksan Festival Details

Daegwallyeong Snow Festival

Located at the previously mentioned Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm, there is a snow festival that runs during the middle of January and has a range of fun activities to enjoy in the snow. Try snow sledding and sliding down the snowy slopes into soft snow below. You can also walk around huge ice sculptures representing building-sized structures, such as castles, people, characters, and more. There are performances during the day, parades, and a fireworks show to light up the skies at night.

Daegwallyeong Snow Festival
Where does it snow in Korea 21

3: See Snow At Ski Resorts In Korea

There are many ski resorts in Korea, where you can enjoy a range of winter sports, or play around in the snow and make a snowman. As they’re high up in the mountains, these resorts can have snow for several months, giving the best chance to see snowy landscapes.

Skiing and snowboarding are very popular winter activities in Korea and there are a range of resorts that offer slopes and training for all levels, from absolute beginners to experts.

Where To Ski In South Korea: Ski Resorts In South Korea

Most of the ski resorts in Korea are in the north, located in Gyeonggi and Gangwon province. These are really convenient for day trips or weekend breaks from Seoul and you’ll find a lot of locals visiting on the weekends.

Some resorts, such as Vivaldi Park, have a separate area for families or non-skiers where you can ride sleds, slide down icy slopes, mess around in playgrounds, see winter illuminations, chill in cosy cafes, and just take in the sights.

Where does it snow in Korea 22

Below are some of the best ski resorts in Korea for winter snow sports.

I’ve added links to some package tours from Trazy.com. Trazy offers a range of well-priced tours to ski resorts, as well as discounted ski passes, equipment, and overnight stays. Booking a tour often works out a lot cheaper and easier than trying to travel yourself.

Vivaldi Park Ski Resort

The most popular ski resort in Korea, with state of the art facilities and amazing courses. There are 12 slopes and 10 lifts here, with something suitable for any level, as well as Snowy Land – a family fun play area to mess around in the snow.

Alpensia Ski Resort

One of the main resorts used for the 2018 Winter Olympics, Alpensia Ski Resort offers a range of winter activities for levels of all ages. There are 6 courses for various skill levels.

Bears Town Ski Resort

One of the best skiing destinations in Korea. This resort has over 11 slopes and 8 lifts. The tracks are varied, with courses for all skill levels, from beginners to experts.

Elysian Gangchon Ski Resort

The stunning Elysian Gangchon Ski Resort offers skiing, snowboard, and snow sledding. You can also hike around the area and see the beautiful snow-covered Korean nature.

Yongpyong Ski Resort

Another resort used for the 2018 Winter Olympics. This is a large ski resort that has 28 slopes to choose from. Very popular with ski and snowboarding enthusiasts.

Welli Hilli Snow Park

If you’re into snowboarding, this is one of the best resorts in Korea for you. Featuring one of Korea’s few half-pipes, these courses favour snowboarders over skiers.

Where does it snow in Korea 23

4: Hike In Korea’s Snowy Mountains

This is one of my favourite winter activities and there are lots of wonderful national parks across Korea where you can find snowy mountain peaks.

Not only can you hike and trek through the increasingly deeper snow, you’ll also get to see traditional Korean Buddhist temples covered in snow, which is a sight worthy of the effort alone.

Whilst any national park would be good to visit in winter, these 5 mountains and national parks have some of the best snow scenes or highest chances of snow.

Taebaeksan Mountain

Taebaeksan Mountain, a holy place littered with shamanistic shrines, is one of the best mountains for seeing snow in Korea. It’s tall, at over 1,500 metres, and located in the heart of the Korean Alps. If you come to Taebaeksan, be sure to check out the aforementioned Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival, too.

Where does it snow in Korea 24

Deogyusan Mountain, Muju

A personal favourite of mine as it’s close to Daejeon, Deogyusan Mountain is one of the tallest mountains in Korea and offers a great day hike to the top. Start by passing through snowy valleys, eat lunch at a snow-covered temple, and then ascend to the all-white peak. The peak is right next to Deogyusan ski resort, which offers fantastic views of the snowy slopes and a scenic cable car that you can ride to get down the hill.

Where does it snow in Korea 25

Cheonwangbong Peak, Jirisan

The highest peak in Jirisan National Park and the second highest mountain in Korea, Cheonwangbong offers a rare chance to sleep overnight and make a sunrise hike in the morning to see rows of mountains covered in snow and the valleys below. You don’t have to stay overnight, however, you can still hike in Jirisan during the day see many snowy sights and walk through snow that can be knee-deep.

Snowy Slopes of Hallasan, which you can see during 1 week on Jeju Island in winter

Hallasan Mountain, Jeju Island

Can you believe there’s deep snow only 20 minutes from sandy beaches on a semi-tropical island? On the slopes of Hallasan Mountain, Korea’s only active volcano, you can see some incredible snowy scenes whilst looking out at the coast. If you’re looking for snow on Jeju Island, then Hallasan is the place to go. There are several courses that lead to the peak of Hallasan, or pass by the side, and all offer some of the best snow scenes in Korea I’ve ever seen. The best part? Sliding down the pathways on the way back down.

Jeju Island In Winter
Where does it snow in Korea 26

Seonjaryeong Ridge, Pyeongchang

Seonjaryeong, located close to Gangneung and the aforementioned Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm, offers one of the prettiest treks through winter snow. It’s also known as one of the snowiest places in Korea. The trek through this area is slow and steady (not steep), passing fir-lined snowscapes and suitable for most hikers. The main route takes about 4 hours to complete.

Korea’s National Parks

Almost all Korean national parks with tall mountains will have snow on them, so if you can’t get to one of these listed above, it’s still worth visiting one that is closest to you.

Bukhansan National Park is easiest for visitors to Seoul, Jirisan National Park is good if you’re in Busan. For those in Jeju, be sure to check out Hallasan National Park. Below is my list of the 10 best national parks in Korea with useful information all about them.

Top 10 Korean National Parks

Not sure about how to go hiking in Korea? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with these 21 top hiking in Korea tips.

21 Top Korean Hiking Tips
Where does it snow in Korea 27

Tips To Enjoy The Snow In Korea Safely

Here are a few tips for enjoying the Korean snow sights safely. Winter may be colder and icier than you’re used to, and being prepared will save you from problems later.

Wear The Right Clothes

First, I want to say how important it is to wear the right clothes. The ice can be slippery, the weather is bone-numbingly cold at times, and the snow can get everywhere. Wear several layers and make sure you have a thick jacket when you go outside.

Be prepared for the weather and you should be fine. Even if you’re not, Korea has all you will ever need to survive and you can buy stuff in Korea. Check out the markets near Seoul Station or in Myeongdong Market and Namdaemun Market for cheap winter clothes.

Bring The Right Equipment

Hiking boots are a must if you plan to hike one of Korea’s many mountains. Whilst you don’t need to dress like a professional hiker all the time, the right equipment will definitely help you out a lot.

If you’re going hiking in deep snow or ice, find out whether or not you’ll need crampons (probably) to stop you slipping. And try to bring some hiking poles, too.

Pack Some Heat

Heat packs, whilst not too great environmentally, are certainly a wonderful way to keep warm and stop your fingers from falling off. You can buy these from convenience stores, cosmetics shops, and supermarkets.

Look After Your Skin

Winter is the driest season in Korea and your skin will dry out quickly. Be sure to pack lots of skin cream, hand cream, and lip balm and apply them daily. You can buy these from cosmetics shops in Korea at reasonable prices.

Stay Hydrated & Fill Up

As mentioned, winter is very dry. Stay warm and drink lots of hot drinks. Stay hydrated to avoid problems, especially if you’re out in the mountains. You can get heated drinks at convenience stores, including healthy ginseng drinks for extra energy.

Try Korean winter snack foods and dishes, you won’t regret it. There’s nothing like a bit of spice for staying warm inside, but be careful with some of it or you’ll be sweating like a turkey at Christmas.

Best Korean Winter Foods

Book Ahead To Avoid Disappointment

Winter festivals and hotels in popular places can sell out far in advance. To avoid disappointment, make sure to book tours and accommodation as soon as you make plans to go somewhere.

Below are some useful Korean resources that will help you to book tours, find hotels, and save money travelling Korea.

Useful Korean Resources:
Tour agencies:
Klook | Trazy | Get Your Guide
Hotels:
Klook | Hotellook | Booking.com
Learn Korean:
90 Day Korean | Korean Class 101
Money-Saving Passes:
T-Money Card | Discover Seoul Pass
Mobile Internet:
4G Sim Card & WiFi

Wherever you go to see snow in Korea, I hope you have a safe and exciting time!

By the way, if you want more information about what to do in winter in Korea, check out some of my other articles about Korea’s coldest season:

Jeju Island In Winter
Korea’s Best Winter Festivals
Delicious Korean Winter Foods
COVID-19 Travel Insurance

COVID-19 Travel Insurance

If you’re travelling to Korea these days, it’s good to get COVID-19 travel insurance, which will protect you from a number of problems, including cancellations, hospital care, and other unplanned problems.

A great provider of travel insurance that I personally use when travelling is World Nomads. They offer great cover and their prices are very reasonable. Click below to get a quote now.

Cherry blossoms at Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea

Visiting Korea In Other Seasons?

Can’t travel to Korea in winter?

No worries, Korea has so many amazing sights to see and things to experience all year round. Here are a few articles that will help you out in other seasons:

Korean Spring Cherry Blossoms
Summer Activities In Korea
Korean Autumn Leaves
Festivals In Korea

There’s so much to see in every season: winter snow, spring cherry blossoms, summer beaches, and autumn leaves. There’s never a bad time to visit Korea.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs About Where To See Snow In Korea

Does It Snow In Korea?

Yes. It snows in Korea every year in the mountains and ski resorts. It also snows in cities and other areas of Korea, but not as frequently. For the best chance to see snow in Korea, visit a ski resort or go hiking in one of Korea’s national parks.

When Does It Snow In Korea?

The first snowfall in Korea is usually in November, but can be as early as October. The most common months to see snow in Korea are January and February, which have the highest levels of snowfall in Korea.

When Is The Best Month To See Snow In Korea?

The best months to see snow in Korea are January and February. These are the months with the heaviest snowfall in Korea. You can still see snow in November, December and early-March, but the chance of seeing snow outside of the mountains is lower.

What Is Winter Like In Korea?

Winter in Korea is cold and dry. The temperature in Korea, especially in the northern regions, stays around or below zero degrees Celsius during the day and even lower at night. As winter is the driest season in Korea, that means there isn’t much rainfall, which makes it good for travelling.

Can I See Snow In Korea?

Yes. You can see snow in Korea in many places, including in ski resorts and in the mountains. However, snow is never guaranteed and it is infrequent outside of the mountainous regions. The amount of snowfall during winter fluctuates annually and some winters in Korea may see a lot of snowfall, whilst other winters don’t get much at all.

Can I Ski In South Korea?

Yes. There are a wide range of ski resorts in Korea that are open for winter skiing and other winter sports. These typically run from December until February when the snowfall is heaviest. Most of the ski resorts are in the northern half of South Korea, but there are ski resorts in other areas, too.

Does It Snow In Seoul?

Yes. It snows in Seoul during winter, but it is unpredictable. There is usually a few weeks of snow in Seoul during January or February, which are the months with the highest snowfall in Korea.

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Share Your Thoughts

If you enjoyed reading this article, or if you have any thoughts about it that you want to share, please feel free to leave a message in the comments below. I’d love to hear your feedback about this article and the subject.

If you want some recommendations about where to see snow in Korea, then you can also ask in the Korea Travel Advice group on Facebook.

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I talked with my friend Andy, who's also a fluent Korean speaker, about what we felt have been the most helpful things in our Korean learning journey to bring us to where we are now.

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Daeheungsa Temple – 대흥사 (Gyeongju)

The Gwanseeum-bosal Statue at Daeheungsa Temple in Gyeongju.

Temple History

Daeheungsa Temple is located in northern Gyeongju, and it’s situated at the start of a long valley to the south-east of Mt. Jioksan (569 m). Daeheungsa Temple is a modern temple that belongs to the Yeombul-jong Order, which is one of the twenty-seven Buddhist orders recognized by the Korean government. They give primacy to chanting, and they focus on Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) as their primary Buddha that they worship. Yeombul-jong Buddhism was first founded in 1991 by the monk Kim Yunbo, and its headquarters is located in the city of Daejeon at Wongwangsa Temple. As for Daeheungsa Temple, it’s built on the rather large area of some 12,400 pyeong, which is nearly 41,000 m2.

Temple Layout

You first approach the temple grounds past several farmers fields and up a narrow country road. The temple in fact seems to be misplaced; surrounded by agriculture on all sides. Standing in the centre of the temple parking lot, you’ll face a large retaining wall. Climbing the large set of stairs next to the retaining wall, you’ll finally pass through the Cheonwangmun Gate and enter the lower courtyard at Daeheungsa temple. Housed inside the Cheonwangmun Gate are four rather underwhelming statues dedicated to the Four Heavenly Kings.

Finally standing in the lower courtyard, you’ll first notice the overall ornateness of the temple which is opposed to the understated Jogye-jong Order temples. To your immediate left is a statue dedicated to Podae-hwasang (The Hempen Bag). And a little further left, you’ll find the Jong-ru (Bell Pavilion), which houses a beautiful bronze bell. Straight ahead of you, on the other hand, is a large stone statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion), who stands in the centre of a shallow pond. To the rear of this pond, and elevated on an altar, is a statue dedicated to the Noble Eightfold Path. This statue is then backed by a seated stone statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And over top of the outdoor shrine, in an archway, is a hanging stone sculpture of a manja (the swastika). To the right rear of the pond, you’ll find another elevated shrine. This time, the shrine is fronted by a large metal Geumgang-jeo (Diamond Pounder), and it’s backed by another large stone image of Seokgamoni-bul. Again, another hanging stone manja sways from an archway over the entire outdoor shrine.

Climbing another flight of stairs to the rear of the Gwanseeum-bosal pond, you’ll next come to the Cheonbul-jeon Hall. Just outside this shrine hall are sixteen large paintings dedicated to the Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha). There are also smaller stone statues in this area of various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Stepping inside the Cheonbul-jeon Hall, and resting on the main altar, is a triad centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). This triad, as the name of the temple shrine hall already hints at, is surrounded by a thousand smaller statues of Seokgamoni-bul and Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).

Up yet another flight of stairs; this time, to the upper courtyard, you’ll pass through the beautiful dragon adorned entry gate. At the top of these stairs, and past the dragon entry gate, you’ll be welcomed to the upper courtyard by a large concrete main hall. The exterior walls to the Geukrak-jeon Hall are only adorned with the traditional dancheong colours. Stepping inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall, you’ll notice a large triad of statues resting on the main altar. This triad is centred by Amita-bul. And this central image is joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul).

To the left of the Geukrak-jeon Hall is a training centre for monks. Also in this area is a large statue dedicated to Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). But it’s to the right of the Geukrak-jeon Hall that your eyes will be most drawn to. Here, you’ll find a white shrine hall, which looks to be Indian-inspired, that houses sari (crystallized remains) inside it. But before stepping inside this elevated outdoor shrine, you’ll first need to pass by the guardians Narayeon Geumgang and Miljeok Geumgang (The Twin Guardians of Korean Temples). And on top of the oval-shaped shrine hall is a five-story stone pagoda. Once you step inside this oval-shaped white hall, you’ll notice that the walls are painted with Palsang-do (The Eight Scenes from the Buddha’s Life Murals). And resting on the main altar are the sari.

Just behind this white oval-shaped shrine hall, and to the right of the Geukrak-jeon Hall, is the Samseong-gak Hall. Housed inside this shaman shrine hall are three simplistic shaman murals. They are of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Yongwang (The Dragon King), and Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

How To Get There

From the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take Bus #203. You’ll need to take this bus for forty-five stops, which will last about one hour and twenty minutes. You’ll need to then get off at the Oksan 2-ri stop and walk for an additional eight hundred and fifty metres to get to Daeheungsa Temple.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Daeheungsa Temple is definitely one of the more difficult temples to locate and then find. It’s placed in a remote part of northern Gyeongju to the rear of several farmers fields. With all of that in mind, Daeheungsa Temple is home to quite a few surprises like the white, oval-shaped shrine with sari inside it. Also as eye catching is the pond with a statue of Gwanseeum-bosal in the centre of it. Everything at Daeheungsa Temple seems to be large, so get out there and enjoy exploring this little known temple that’s apart of a lesser known Buddhist Order. In addition, the temple is just down the valley from Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site, which houses a thirteen-story pagoda that’s a National Treasure

The front retaining wall at Daeheungsa Temple.
The walk up to the main temple grounds.
The statue of Gwanseeum-bosal.
The Noble Eightfold Path statue with the hanging manja (swastika) and statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) in the background.
Inside the Cheonbul-jeon Hall.
The Geukrak-jeon Hall at Daeheungsa Temple.
A look inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall at the main altar triad.
The oval-shaped shrine hall at Daeheungsa Temple.
A statue of Narayeon Geumgang at the entry of the oval-shaped shrine hall.
A look inside the oval-shaped shrine hall with dragons adorning the ceiling and the Palsang-do adorning the walls.
The statue of Mireuk-bul to the left of the Geukrak-jeon Hall.

Squid Game – A glimpse of this popular Korean TV series

If you’ve read the news or been on social media at all lately, “Squid game” might already sound familiar to you. The name itself can already get someone curious, so what is Squid Game all about?

In this article, we will explain to you the plot of the TV show and how it relates to real-life in Korea, especially regarding the children’s games played in it. Let’s see what this much gushed Korean series is all about!

Squid Game

What’s Squid Game about?

Squid Game, also known as 오징어 게임 (Ojingeo Geim), is a Netflix series directed by director Hwang Dong Hyuk. This nine-episode series tells the story of people who were invited to play games, specifically children’s games, and compete for cash in desperate need of money.

These cash-strapped players accepted the strange invitation, and they were eventually picked up and brought to an unknown location. A total of 456 players initially entered the competition, and they quickly realized that winning the massive cash prize (equal to about $USD 38 million) has deadly high stakes.

The first episode out of the nine episodes ends with the majority of the players in the game voting to stop the game, and they initially return to their old lives. However, due to the same circumstances, they agreed to enter the game in the first place, most players end up volunteering to go back to finish the game properly in hopes that they will win the tempting prize.

What does the name Squid Game mean?

The show explains that the name “Squid game” comes from one of the popular children’s games played in the neighborhood of the lead character, Seong Gi-hun (played by actor Lee Jung Jae) when he was young. It is played on a squid-shaped court, with the idea of the game being similar to the Western children’s games tag and Red Rover.

Did real-life events inspire Squid Game?

While Squid Game is not a true story, its creators did draw inspiration from real life in Korea and elsewhere. Notable points were the poor state of the Korean economy back in 2008 and Donald Trump’s presidency.

What games are played on Squid Game?

A couple of different games are played in Squid Game, all of which are actual children’s games played in Korea.

Squid Game Play Games

딱지 (ttakji)

Firstly, Squid Game begins – and also ends – with the main character Seong Gi-hun being approached by a stranger at a subway station, challenging him for a game of 딱지 (ttakji). In this game, a round of “rock, scissor, paper” will denote which player will get to go first. The other player will drop his ttakji – a paper tile – on the ground, and the other player will attempt to throw their tile so that the opponent’s paper tile flips over.

무궁화꽃이 피었습니다 (mugunghwakkotchi pieosseumnida)

The first official game once the participants have entered Squid Game is called Mugunghwa Flower Has Bloomed (무궁화꽃이 피었습니다, mugunghwakkotchi pieosseumnida), which is a game internationally known as “Red Light, Green Light.” The Korean version of the game differs slightly, as instead of yelling out red light or green light, the “it” player will sing “무궁화꽃이 피었습니다.”

This introduces the players to the actual game they’ve entered. If you’ve heard about Squid Game or seen clips of it online, one of the most iconic parts is this game where the “Squid Game doll” chants the 무궁화꽃이 피었습니다 song. The doll appears to be a giant robot doll that detects movements from the players when it’s already “red light” and when they’re not supposed to move. If you’d think of Squid Game, this doll most likely will be the first one to come to mind!

뽑기 (ppopgi)

The first game the participants play once they voluntarily come back to the game is known as Dalgona Challenge – or Ppopgi (뽑기). In this game, each player is given their own honeycomb-like treat, with a figure drawn in, and they are supposed to get the figure out of the treat without breaking it.

줄다리기 (juldarigi)

Game #3 is another children’s game played all around the world, Tug of War. In Korean, the game is called juldarigi (줄다리기). Game #4 is played with marbles. This time, the players get to choose which game featuring marbles; specifically, they want to play, as there are multiple children’s games played with marbles in South Korea. The purpose of any of these games is to collect all of the opponent’s marbles.

Glass Game

Game #5 features a glass bridge and is the only game in the drama that is not an existing game. However, due to the popularity of Korean drama, it is possible to play a version of it online. Try googling “Squid Game, Glass Game,” for example, to find a version of it.

Is Squid Game a real game in Korea?

The final game played in the drama is Squid Game, which is indeed a real game in South Korea. This game requires a big space, like a schoolyard, so that the shape of a squid can be drawn on it. Typically it’s played in two teams. The offense will start the game from the squid’s head, while the defense will be in the squid’s body.

Squid Game Location

Photo credit: https://netflix.com

The game starts with the offense team hopping on one foot from the head to the middle point. From there, they have two options to win: they either hop from one side of the center point to another, without the defense managing to disqualify them, or they can hop to the bottom of the squid’s body and try to “combat” past the defense to reach back to the head of the squid. This game is typically played by elementary school-aged boys.

Why should you watch Squid Game?

Squid Game quickly reached the number 1 watched show on Netflix all around the world upon release. In fact, it only took Squid Game four days to reach the spot. There’s even the possibility that Squid Game will become Netflix’s most-watched show altogether, thus far, and it’s certainly grown to be one of its biggest series launches, completely by surprise.

The series is this popular and talked about this much in the media for a reason, so it’s certainly worth being watched by you as well. Here are some highlights on why you could possibly like this series.

Exciting thriller/survival storyline

If you’re interested in a well-done thriller and don’t get squeamish easily, this will be a great watch for you. Similarly, if you enjoy watching movies like Hunger Games, a survival game movie, or Battle Royale, you’ll love this!

Great character background stories

While the games may be more horrifying than entertaining, the characters are incredibly compelling, with heartbreaking stories. It’ll be easy to root for a few of them and thus get emotionally attached to the series. Not to mention, the series feels highly addicting – and will keep you at the edge of your seat until the end of the finale!

The main characters all get a fleshed-out back story that explains their drive to win and has us cheering them on. But the game runners – so, technically the villains – aren’t left without their own backstory, either.

Squid Game Casts

Photo credit: https://forbes.com

It’s not your usual plot

Before you watch the TV series, do know that it is quite dark in the subject matter. And, yes, also quite bloody. So as popular as the show may be, it is also not for everyone. It’s certainly a horror show due to its violence and the terrible choices it forces the players to make; it’s undeniable it’s also a deep and thought-provoking drama. Both of these qualities have been masterfully intertwined together. So, if you can give it a try, we highly recommend the series.

Learn more about Korea

Above all else, watching this series can also offer you some interesting perspectives of Korean society and life in Korea. Not only will you learn about the games that children play in Korea, but you’ll also know more about their culture. Plus, it’s always a great lesson in the Korean language!

How can you watch Squid Game?

All you need to watch “Squid Game” is a Netflix account! Alternatively, if you don’t have an account yourself, why not put together a Squid Game marathon with a friend who does have Netflix and might be interested in watching?

The show will be fun to watch alone, but perhaps it might be even more enjoyable if you watch and discuss it together with a friend. There is the option to watch Squid Game dubbed in English in certain locations, but for the best experience, we do suggest watching it in the original language, with subtitles turned on!

Is Squid Game getting a Season 2?

If you have finished watching Squid Game, you might be craving for a second season. There’s a lot of rumor going on about the Squid Game Season 2. The good news is, although there are no well-developed plans yet, it has been confirmed by director Hwang Dong-hyuk that there will be a second season!

Director Hwang has also previously mentioned in an interview that if he were working on the next season for Squid Game, he wouldn’t do it alone; instead, he wants to with multiple experienced directors and considers using a writers’ room for it.

Have you already watched Squid Game? What did you think of it? How many of these children’s games were you familiar with? Don’t forget to also read our article on Korean games if you’d like to know more about the types of games played in South Korea! Also, let us know in the comments similar games that are played in your own country!

The post Squid Game – A glimpse of this popular Korean TV series appeared first on 90 Day Korean®.

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The Zenith – The Unified Silla Dynasty (668 – 935 A.D.)

A Map of Unified Silla (Picture Courtesy of Wikipedia).

During the Unified Silla Dynasty (668 – 935 A.D.), Korean Buddhism would reach its zenith. A lot of the historic tangible cultural assets like National Treasures, Korean Treasures, and Historic Sites are datable to this time in Korean history. The Silla Kingdom, during the Three Kingdoms Period in Korean history, allied itself with Tang China in the mid-7th century. And in 660 A.D., in the sixth year of King Muyeol of Silla’s reign (r. 654-661 A.D.), the allied forces defeated the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.). Then, in 668 A.D., now under the new kingship of the famous King Munmu of Silla (r. 661-681 A.D.), as well as under the brilliant leadership of Kim Yusin (595 – 673 A.D.), they conquered the northern Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.). Interestingly, the conquest of the Goguryeo Kingdom has a Buddhist aspect to it. During one of their largest battles with Goguryeo Kingdom forces, the devout Kim Yusin said, “When human strength has gone, depend on secret assistance.” After saying this, Kim Yusin went to a Buddhist temple where he intensely prayed. Only after saying his prayers did a large star fall from the sky onto the Goguryeo Kingdom camp. With this defeat, the reign of a Unified Silla was complete.

The Stele of King Muyeol in Gyeongju.

Buddhism was the dominant system of belief during the Unified Silla Dynasty. As a result, it played an integral role in both intellectual and cultural life. Numerous monks traveled to Tang Dynasty (618–690, 705–907 A.D.) in China to become better educated in Buddhism. And those that returned to the Korean peninsula brought back various Buddhist texts, relics, and sutras. This helped the peninsula develop both educationally and culturally. Buddhism continued to grow and flourish as it was viewed as protection against foreign invaders like the Chinese and Japanese. And to a small upstart nation like the Unified Silla Dynasty, the belief in protection was vital. And this protective belief was grounded in the nation’s belief in Buddhism.

The foundation to the vitality of the newly formed Unified Silla, other than Buddhism, were the Hwarang. The Hwarang, or Flower Youths, were trained in Buddhist teachings by Buddhist monks. The Hwarang were young warriors aged anywhere from between fourteen to eighteen years old. They were chosen from aristocratic families based on their looks and ability. Originally, the Hwarang were formed by King Jinheung of Silla (r. 540 – 576 A.D.), who was a devout Buddhist. Not only did this group allow the Silla Dynasty, during the Three Kingdoms Period, to thrive, but they also allowed it to outdistance any other kingdom on the Korean peninsula both politically and militaristically. Many famous kings and generals, like Kim Yusin, were ex-Hwarang. And their contribution to Silla society was immeasurable.

The Tomb of Queen Seondeok in Gyeongju.

During this period in Korean Buddhist history, a primary shift was made from Gyo, or doctrinal learning, towards Seon, which was focused more on direct experience and meditation. Specifically, Seon doctrine taught that belief shouldn’t, and couldn’t, be grounded in writing alone. Instead, Seon believed that enlightenment could be attained through meditation and the mind. It’s believed that Seon Buddhism first entered Korea sometime during the 7th century during Queen Seondeok of Silla’s reign from 632 – 647 A.D. Unfortunately, it was only vaguely understood at this time. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 9th century, during Unified Silla, that it became more commonly practiced. As a result, this then led to the creation of the influential “Gusan Seonmun – 구산선문” during this time. Seon Buddhism’s great popularity stemmed from its wide acceptance in the countryside by its gentry. The reason for its acceptance was twofold. Obviously, it gave the people something to believe in; but it also provided a basis for countryside independence from the political power that was found in the capital of Gyeongju.

An image of Uisang-daesa (625-702 A.D.) from Jogyesa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

At this time, the Hwaeom sect of Buddhism was founded by Uisang-daesa (625 – 702 A.D.). It taught a doctrine of an all-encompassing harmony. This harmony focused on the belief that the one contains the whole, and that the whole contains the one. The purpose of this belief was to embrace all sentient beings, big or small, under a single Buddha mind. Another popular form of Buddhism at this time was Pure Land Buddhism. This form of Korean Buddhism focused on Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). It was especially popular among commoners. Pure Land Buddhism was popular among Koreans for two reason. The first is that it allowed people an escape from despair and gave them hope during a time in Korean history of danger and insecurity. The other reason it was so popular is that it was easy to practice. All it took for practitioners to show devotion was simply to chant, “Namu Amita-bul,” which roughly translates into English as, “I sincerely believe in Amita-bul.” In performing this chant, one could be reborn in the Western Paradise and escape this world’s pain and suffering.

There were a vast range of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that were highly popular during the Unified Silla Dynasty. At this time, Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) was highly popular. The reason that Mireuk-bul was so popular is that he was believed to have come to the Korean peninsula, in the form of Hwarang, to help Silla in becoming a Buddhist land. Another popular Buddha, as was already mentioned because of Pure Land Buddhism, was Amita-bul. Finally, and as a result of the Lotus Sutra, Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) was highly popular, as well.

The Daeung-jeon Hall at Tongdosa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Much of Korea’s historic tangible past dates back to this period in Korean history in the form of temples, hermitages, statues, and pagodas. Such monks as Jajang-yulsa (590-658 A.D.) built Tongdosa Temple in 646 A.D. This made Tongdosa Temple the first Korean Buddhist temple to house the earthly remains of the Historical Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul. In addition to countless other monastic creations, the Silla nobility also helped in the spread of Buddhism’s popularity. These Buddhist buildings and structures were created by the nobility as a way of attracting good fortune during a time of frequent instability and insecurity. In addition to these structures, stupas (stone monuments that house the earthly remains of prominent monks) were increasing in number due to the increased popularity in Seon Buddhism and the idea of lineage. The oldest datable stupa was constructed during this period in 790 A.D.

The Unified Silla Dynasty was lucky early on to be ruled by notable kings like the first, King Munmu of Silla (r. 661 – 681). During his reign, he unified the peninsula and consolidated his rule that was centralized around a Buddhist belief system. However, as devout as King Munmu was, even he placed restrictions on Buddhism. In 665 A.D., during the fifth year of his reign, he ordered people not to donate land frivolously to Buddhist temples. He believed that temples had already become too prosperous for their own good. With all this being said, King Munmu still appointed monks as government officials. In 670 A.D., King Munmu appointed monk Sinhye as a government official, which highlights the influence Buddhism had not only on people, but also over government policy making. And in 671 A.D., the famous Buddhist monk, Uisang-daesa returned from China to warn Silla against a potential northern invasion. This was not the first time, nor would it be the last, that a Buddhist monk came to the aid of their nation.

Interestingly, it’s also at the height of Buddhism in Korea that its eventual ideological usurper, Confucianism, started to rival the more traditional system of thought in Korea. Confucianism gained traction among some Koreans because it stressed a set of moral standards for the world of human affairs. And as Confucians offered a beneficial system of moral and social values, Buddhism had a hard time competing with the hearts and minds of individuals in this sphere because Buddhism emphasized, and still emphasizes, personal salvation. While Confucianism had a long way to go to combat the dominant Buddhist belief system at this time, it eventually would in the centuries to come. But that change was still a few centuries off.

The Stone Brick Pagoda of Bunhwangsa Temple in Gyeongju.

The peak of Korean Buddhism, both tangibly and culturally came in the mid to latter half of the 8th century. This was especially true during the reign of King Gyeongdeok of Silla (r. 742 – 765 A.D.). During the 13th year of his reign, the Hwangnyongsa Temple bell in Gyeongju was cast. And in 756 A.D., the Bunhwangsa Temple’s Yaksayeorae-bul (The Medicine Buddha) statue was made. And after his death, but under his initial guidance, the famous Bell of King Seongdeok was finally completed in 771 A.D. While Buddhism thrived under King Gyeongdeok of Silla’s reign, it would reach its heights during King Seondeok of Silla’s reign from 780 – 785 A.D. Both Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Hermitage were completed during his reign. They were constructed for then Prime Minister, Kim Daeseong’s past and present parents.

Unfortunately, the final century of Unified Silla Dynasty rule was one of constant civil war. And while Buddhism would remain the national religion under the succeeding rulers of the Korean peninsula, the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), Korean Buddhism would never achieve such splendid cultural heights as it did during the Unified Silla Dynasty.

Inside the Seokguram Grotto on Mt. Tohamsan in Gyeongju.

Does 고 싶다 use the Subject or Object Marker? | Korean FAQ

When using the ~고 싶다 form, do you mark the noun using the Subject Marker or the Object Marker?

Both the Subject Marker and the Object Marker can be used for marking the noun with the ~고 싶다 form.

However, one of these forms will often sound more natural than the other form, and that's the Subject Marker. Find out the reasoning why, and how you can use this form.

The post Does 고 싶다 use the Subject or Object Marker? | Korean FAQ appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

GM shows no plan for EV production in Korea

 A key GM official threw a wet blanket on the Korean auto industry that has hoped GM may manufacture electric vehicles in its two plants in Korea. Steve Kiefer, GM International President, said in a press conference on Nov 12 that GM Korea will launch 10 new EV models in Korea by 2025, but none will be made locally. Mr.Kiefer added GM Korea will launch a new crossover model in 2023 at its Changwon plant. The crossover model will be a key product  for GM Korea to sell locally as well as export to overseas, following the footsteps of Trailblazer SUVs that have been exported  over 100,000 units since its launch in 2020 at Bupyeong plant.  When closing its Gunsan plant in 2019, GM Korea made a commitment to the Korean government to invest 900 billion won($7.5B) in its Changwon plant for the next four years. 

GM models are respected by Korean, evidenced by the word "Gemucee"(제무시) coined during the Korean War. Wowed at the performance of GMC military trucks used in the mountainous Korean terrain, Koreans called anything that is about power, strength, durability, or reliability as Gemucee.  For example, "Mike Tyson is a real Gemucee to beat his opponents with 19 straight K.O.s." Or, "You must be a Gemucee to have 11 kids!"  A few of these Gemucee trucks are still active in Korea over 70 years after the Korean War. Korean consumers respect GM products.  Korea has a strong auto supplier base including EV battery companies like LG Chemical, so many hope GM CEO Mary Barra sends Mr.Santa Claus instead  for the next press interview in Seoul. 

Speaking ONLY KOREAN with my bilingual son | Korean ice cream stores with no staff

My son is bilingual, and also happens to like ice cream (who doesn't). So I took him to an ice cream store that's open all day without any staff members, since it would be easy to film there, and let him pick out a few of his favorite flavors. Then we brought them back to our apartment and tried each of them. The whole time we're speaking only in Korean.

The post Speaking ONLY KOREAN with my bilingual son | Korean ice cream stores with no staff appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

Munsuam Hermitage – 문수암 (Goseong, Gyeongsangnam-do)

The Amazing View from Munsuam Hermitage in Goseong, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hermitage History

Munsuam Hermitage is located in western Goseong, Gyeongsangnam-do. The hermitage is named after Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom). Munsuam Hermitage was first established in 688 A.D., when the famed monk Uisang-daesa (625 – 702 A.D.) built it. Uisang-daesa was led to the top of Mt. Muesan (545.6 m) by Munsu-bosal and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). The two Bodhisattvas appeared as beggars to Uisang-daesa. Uisang-daesa had a dream in which a Buddhist devotee foretold the coming of these two Bodhisattvas. Outside of the hermitage’s foundation, very little is known about it through the centuries. The hermitage shrine halls are modern creations, and the stupa (budo) that houses the sari (crystallized remains) of the monk Cheongdam was placed on the hermitage grounds in 1973.

Munsuam Hermitage has one of the most scenic views in all of Korea. The hermitage faces towards the south and the dozens of tiny islands that dot the South Sea. And between the hermitage and the sea are rolling waves of twisted red pines along the neighbouring ridgelines. Crowning the neighbouring mountain top to the south, and a little lesser in elevation, is Bohyeonsa Temple, which is named after the Bodhisattva that also assisted Uisang-daesa to the top of the mountain. So with the South Sea, the rolling ridgelines, the neighbouring Bohyeonsa Temple, the views from Munsuam Hermitage are simply breath-taking.

Hermitage Layout

You first approach Munsuam Hermitage up a zig-zagging road that winds its way up the side of the sloping mountain. When you finally do arrive at the hermitage grounds, you’ll notice that most of the shrine halls are precariously placed on the face of the mountain. The second thing you’ll probably notice is the amazing view. And rather remarkably, all of this can be seen just from the hermitage parking lot.

Passing by a cute collection of wood carvings, you’ll first encounter the Cheonbul-jeon Hall at Munsuam Hermitage to your left. Inside the Cheonbul-jeon Hall are wall-to-wall statues of the Buddha. And resting under the main altar’s red canopy (datjib) is a triad centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). This statue is joined on the main altar by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisatva of Compassion). Completing the artistic interior of the Cheonbul-jeon Hall are a collection of Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha) paintings on the ceiling of the shrine hall.

As you make your way from the lower courtyard that houses the Cheonbul-jeon Hall, towards the upper courtyard, you’ll pass by a storage building and an observation deck. It’s from this observation deck, which is also where the stupa (budo) that houses the partial remains of Cheongdam, that you’ll get the best view of the South Sea off in the distance. On the observation deck, you’ll also find a tortoise-based stele (biseok) and a stone statue dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul.

Further up the pathway, and now standing in the upper courtyard at Munsuam Hermitage, you’ll find the main hall. The exterior walls to this hall are adorned with beautiful Shimu-do (Ox-Herding Murals). As for the interior, and sitting all alone on the main altar, is an image of Gwanseeum-bosal. To the left of the main altar is a shrine with a standing statue dedicated to Jijang-bosal. And on the far left wall is a uniquely painted Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural). And to the right of the main altar is a statue of a youthful Munsu-bosal riding a blue lion. This statue is backed by a panel of glass that looks out onto a neighbouring mountain crevice, which is where a statue of Munsu-boal miraculously appeared to Uisang-daesa. And on the far right wall is a memorial shrine for the dead.

To the right of the main hall at Munsuam Hermitage is another observation deck that looks out more towards the rolling ridgelines of the neighbouring mountains. And to the left of the main hall are the monks’ dorms. And it’s from out in front of this building that you get some more spectacular views of the sea and the tiny islands off in the distance.

The final shrine hall that visitors can explore at Munsuam Hermitage is the Dokseong-gak Hall. This shaman shrine hall is situated up a treacherous mountain pathway. In fact, a portion of the mountain’s rocky face has been cut away to allow visitors access to this rather hard to reach shrine hall. Once you do finally arrive at the shaman shrine hall crowning the hermitage grounds, you’ll be greeted by a solitary image of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) inside the Dokseong-gak Hall.

How To Get There

From Goseong, you’ll need to take a taxi to get to Munsuam Hermitage, as there are no buses that go directly to the hermitage. The taxi ride will be around 13,000 won from the Goseong Intercity Bus Terminal. And the ride should take about twenty-five minutes (one way). Just make sure you hang onto your taxi, because it’s a long walk back to the terminal from Munsuam Hermitage.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Without a doubt, Munsuam Hermitage is one of the most beautifully located Buddhist sites in Korea right up there with Boriam Hermitage in Namhae, Gyeongsangnam-do and Hyangiram Hermitage in Yeosu, Jeollanam-do. Adding to the hermitage’s scenic location is the crowning Dokseong-gak Hall and the main hall at Munsuam Hermitage. While lesser visited, Munsuam Hermitage is an absolute must see!

The amazing view from Munsuam Hermitage.
And a look towards the neighbouring Bohyeonsa Temple.
The Cheonbul-jeon Hall at Munsuam Hermitage.
The colourful interior of the Cheonbul-jeon Hall.
The statue of Seokgamoni-bul and the stupa dedicated to Cheongdam on the observation deck at Munsuam Hermitage.
The view from the observation deck.
And another amazing angle towards Bohyeonsa Temple off in the distance.
A closer look.
The view from the main hall.
A look inside the main hall at Munsuam Hermitage.
The statue of Munsu-bosal inside the main hall.
The uniquely designed Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural).
The pathway leading up to the Dokseong-gak Hall.
And the statue of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) inside the Dokseong-gak Hall.

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