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Master Politeness Levels with Billy Go | #3: The 요 Form

You can now watch Lesson 3 of my newest free course, "Master Politeness Levels." This course covers everything about politeness levels you will need in order to speak Korean more naturally and understand it like a native. You'll learn about the important speech levels, as well as how they're used together.

Note that YouTube Members also get access to watch this series several lessons in advance. You can find a link to the playlist for the course in the video description.

The post Master Politeness Levels with Billy Go | #3: The 요 Form appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

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S Korea’s Confused Response on the Ukraine War wasn’t just Reflexive Mercantilism, but also the Leverage Autocracies Gain Over Democracies who Trade with Them Too Much

South Korean voters were less than pleased with their government's standoffish stance on the Ukraine invasion, which arguably helped hawkish candidate Yoon Suk-yeol win the presidential election. | POOL / VIA REUTERS
South Korea got a lot of (deserved) criticism for its erratic, corporate-profits-uber-alles approach to the Ukraine War. It has since come around, but only after the US twisted its arm with export control threats. And its MPs mostly skipped Zelensky’s speech to the SK parliament. All in all it was a pretty poor showing.

This is a re-post of a column I wrote a few days ago for the Japan Times. For other commentary in the same vein, try here, here, and here.

Some of this was straight-up mercantilism. The government complained about corporate investments in Russian being put at risk, plus the wider trade relationship. That came off so callous and tone-deaf that South Korean citizens pushed back. But it illustrates a long-established problem in South Korean foreign policy: the country’s largest corporations are far too influential, creating a what’s-good-for-Samsung-is-good-for-Korea mentality which is wrong, plutocratic, and undemocratic.

But the larger issue applies to all democracies trading a lot with autocracies: trade creates leverage, and autocracies are happy to weaponize it. China already did this in the THAAD fight with S Korea a few years back; New Zealand has gotten criticism as a weak link; American businesses like Disney and the NBA have been craven before China. All of us democracies are going to have to start unwinding our economies from nasty dictatorships to avoid betraying our values for corporate profits, and since China is South Korea’s biggest export market, the new Yoon government should start that now.

Here is that Japan Times essay:

The Ukraine war has a been a unique challenge to Asia’s democracies. The war is far away. It involves peoples cultural distinct from this region, and its impacts will be most directly felt in Eastern Europe. Russia’s complaints and motivations mostly concern the West, particularly the post-Cold War European settlement which much reduced Russian power there. Inevitably then, the West’s response has been the most active. It is in the firing line.

But there are Asian ramifications too, which Japan, to its credit, seems to have grasped. Despite long hesitation on the use of sanctions – despite the regular use of sanctions by its American ally – Tokyo appears to have decided that this Russian aggression needs to be punished. The Russian invasion is blatant imperialism. Were Russia to get away with absorbing a smaller neighbor as the world watched, it would send a powerful signal to China that it could do the same to Taiwan. That would be a direct security threat to Japan. And Russian tactics – the purposeful shelling of civilian areas, and the operation of death squads to murder civilians en masse – have been a moral shock. Japan’s decision to support the sanctioning of Russia looks increasingly like the right call.

By contrast, South Korea’s response has a been mixed bag. When the war started, Seoul’s response was hesitant and ambiguous, provoking a wave of international criticism which the government neither seemed to understand, nor know how to respond to. The first response of South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s administration was fear for South Korean exports to Russia. Lee Jae-Myung, the leftist candidate in the recent presidential election at the time, blamed Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky for provoking the invasion, which brought another wave of social media backlash. For days, it was not clear if Seoul would support the sanctions regime. South Korea only came around when the US threatened a trade exemption its exporters need.

Read the rest here.

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

@Robert_E_Kelly

 

 

Simwonsa Temple – 심원사 (Yontan, Hwanghaebuk-to, North Korea)

Simwonsa Temple in 1930. (Picture Courtesy of the Buddhist Art of North Korea: Documentation in Gelatin Dry Plates).

Temple History

Simwonsa Temple is located in Yontan-gu, Hwanghaebuk-to, North Korea. And the temple contains the fourth oldest wooden structure, the Pogwang-jeon Hall [Bogwang-jeon Hall] in North Korea. It should be noted that some of the spelling in this post will be based on North Korean spelling. The Pogwang-jeon Hall dates back to 1374, which makes it two years older than the Muryangsu-jeon Hall at Buseoksa Temple in Yeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do and one year older than the Yeongsan-jeon Hall at Geojosa Temple in Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

The exact date of the founding of Simwonsa Temple is unknown; however, it has been claimed that Doseon-guksa (826-898 A.D.) founded Simwonsa Temple. Later, and after returning from Yuan China (1271-1368), Yi Saek (1328-1396), who was also known under the pen name of Mogeun, influenced the rebuilding of Simwonsa Temple in 1374. Housed at Simwonsa Temple is a painting done by Yi Saek of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).

According to the Choson Sinbo, which is a pro-North Korean newspaper printed in Japan, renovations to Simwonsa Temple have been underway since June, 2010. The focus of this restoration work is to return the temple to its original form. Specifically, the pillars and the roof of the Pogwang-jeon Hall [Bogwang-jeon Hall] were fixed, and the dancheong colours were restored, as well. In addition to the work done on the Pogwang-jeon Hall, the walls of the Chilseong-gak Hall and the Cheongpung-ru Pavilion were renovated, as well.

Adding to the temple’s origins, and still according to the Choson Sinbo, records state that Simwonsa Temple was founded by Doseon-guksa along with Seongbulsa Temple. Both temple’s have shrine halls dating back to the 14th century, making them some of the oldest wooden structures still standing in North Korea.

Simwonsa Temple in Yontan is North Korean National Treasure #91.

Temple Layout

Simwonsa Temple is located in a clearing under the peaks of a neighbouring mountain range. Simwonsa Temple is located on a north to south central axis with the Cheongpung-ru Pavilion being the first temple structure to greet you at Simwonsa Temple. The Cheongpung-ru Pavilion has an open design for meditation or cooling off on a hot day. There is a beautiful yellow dragon painted across the central beam of the structure.

To the right or left of the Cheongpung-ru Pavilion, and now standing squarely in the middle of the temple courtyard, you’ll find the Eungjin-jeon Hall to your right and the Hyangno-gak Hall to your left. The Eungjin-jeon Hall formerly acted as a temple shrine hall; now, however it’s used as the residence for the temple caretaker.

Straight ahead of you is the historic Pogwang-jeon Hall [Bogwang-jeon Hall], which houses an image of Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy) inside it. The name Pogwang-jeon Hall means “Hall of Universal Light” in English. The central floral latticework of the Pogwang-jeon Hall is stunning as is the intricate eaves design and dancheong colours that adorn the main hall. Stepping inside the Pogwang-jeon Hall, and joining Birojana-bul inside the main hall, is a Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural) on the far right wall.

To the right rear of the Pogwang-jeon Hall [Bogwang-jeon Hall] is the Chilseong-gak Hall, which seemingly has been newly repaired. Also to the rear of the main hall, and in the forested area, is a stele with a tortoise base. And while it’s older, it’s unclear as to when it was first constructed; however, it does have a cartoonish-looking face. Also in this area is a stupa that’s 2.58 metres in height. It’s built on the western ridge behind the Pogwang-jeon Hall. It’s believed that this highly ornate stupa dates back to the end of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). The stupa is top heavy with a large roof stone that curves dramatically upwards. In the centre stands a circular body stone that supports the weight of the upper part of the stone structure.

How To Get There

For now, in today’s political climate, you don’t. But hopefully one day soon we can. Below is a map of where to find Simwonsa Temple in Yontan, Hwanghaebuk-to, North Korea.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Like all North Korean Temples, Simwonsa Temple rates a bit higher because of its off-limits nature. Adding to its extreme exclusiveness is the Pogwang-jeon Hall [Bogwang-jeon Hall], which is the fourth oldest wooden structure in North Korea. The main hall dates back to 1374. Another highlight at the temple is the ornate Goryeo-era stupa.

Historical Pictures of Simwonsa Temple

The Simwonsa Temple grounds from 1930. (Picture courtesy of the Buddhist Art of North Korea: Documentation in Gelatin Dry Plates).
The Pogwang-jeon Hall [Bogwang-jeon Hall] from 1930. (Picture courtesy of the Buddhist Art of North Korea: Documentation in Gelatin Dry Plates).
The beautiful latticework that adorns the front of the Pogwang-jeon Hall [Bogwang-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of the Buddhist Art of North Korea: Documentation in Gelatin Dry Plates).
The exterior eaves of the Pogwang-jeon Hall [Bogwang-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of the Buddhist Art of North Korea: Documentation in Gelatin Dry Plates).
Inside the Pogwang-jeon Hall from 1930. (Picture courtesy of the Buddhist Art of North Korea: Documentation in Gelatin Dry Plates).
A look around the interior of the Pogwang-jeon Hall [Bogwang-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of the Buddhist Art of North Korea: Documentation in Gelatin Dry Plates).
The main altar image of Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). (Picture courtesy of the Buddhist Art of North Korea: Documentation in Gelatin Dry Plates).
The Palsang-do (Eight Scenes from the Buddha’s Life Mural) inside the Pogwang-jeon Hall. (Picture courtesy of the Buddhist Art of North Korea: Documentation in Gelatin Dry Plates).
The Goryeo-era stupa at Simwonsa Temple. (Picture courtesy of the Buddhist Art of North Korea: Documentation in Gelatin Dry Plates).

Simwonsa Temple Now (Sept., 2008)

A look inside the Cheongpung-ru Pavilion. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).
The Pogwang-jeon Hall [Bogwang-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).
A look along the Pogwang-jeon Hall. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).
The beautiful front door latticework that adorns the Pogwang-jeon Hall. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).
The Eungjin-jeon Hall that’s now a dorm. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).
A look behind the Pogwang-jeon Hall. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).
The tortoise-based stele at Simwonsa Temple. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).
A look at the head of the tortoise-based stele. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).
And the stunning Goryeo-era stupa at Simwonsa Temple. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).

"Even If" ~더라도 ~ㄹ지라도 | Live Class Abridged

Last Sunday I did a live Korean classroom about the grammar forms ~더라도 and ~ㄹ지라도. Both of these forms mean "even if," and are different than the regular ~아/어/etc. 도 form (for example, 하다 becoming 해도).

The full live stream lasted over an hour, but the abridged version comes in at just under 8 minutes long. Check it out here~!

The post "Even If" ~더라도 ~ㄹ지라도 | Live Class Abridged appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

After the Donbas Offensive: the Oldie-but-Goodie Putin Playbook of Bogus, Russia-Dependent, Breakaway Statelets

Ukraine ChernihivPutin can’t conquer Ukraine, but taking Donbas, creating another ‘frozen conflict,’ and ending the war before it all gets so much worse for Russia is a pretty good option.

This is a re-post of an essay I wrote for 1945.com.

There was some chatter that Putin would try to end the war by V-E Day (May 9). That would be smart. The war is a disaster for Putin. His military has been revealed as much weaker than expected. China will never see Russia as a equal now. The sanctions are going to reduce Russia’s economy by 10% this year. Oligarchs are losing their assets, and the Russian people will sour on this if it turns into a long grind like Afghanistan in the 80s.

So why not go back Putin’s long-established playbook of ginning up frozen conflicts? Putin got quite good at stirring up local conflicts on Russia’s periphery, getting Russia invited in as peacekeepers, getting local stooges to depend autonomy, and then having the whole mess freeze in place so that Russia could project power into an area and inhibit consolidation of western-leaning states on his border.

It seemed like that was originally the plan with recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk, but then Putin – probably drinking his own kool-aid about Ukraine being a ‘fake country’ – decided to show what a tough guy he was with an invasion he clearly didn’t really prepare for. Now, if the Donbas offensive doesn’t generate a real breakthrough, Putin is stuck either with a war of attrition or establishing a ‘frozen conflict’ in Donbas in order to get out of the war before the costs in material, sanctions, and prestige get any worse. That’s the best way out for him now.

Here is that essay from 1945:

Putin’s Likely Ukraine Goal Now is Breakaway and Pseudo-Republics in Eastern Ukraine – The Battle of Kyiv is over, and Russia has suffered a surprising and significant defeat. A middle power has inflicted a stinging loss on an ostensible great power. Russia’s status as a world power is obviously in question now. Despite its size and weight, it cannot reduce a significantly smaller neighbor.

Russian President Vladimir Putin must now – if only to impress his Chinese backers and justify the war to his own people – win some kind of battlefield victory elsewhere in Ukraine.

It increasingly looks like the Russian effort will be a tank surge in the Donbas. Rumor suggests that Putin is looking to end the war quickly, ideally by May 9, which is VE (Victory in Europe) Day, the day the Nazis finally surrender to the Soviet Union.

This would be a wise choice. Putin pretty clearly cannot take over all of Ukraine at this point. And the sanctions will soon bite deeply into the Russian economy. This war is breaking Russian power and pushing its economy into a major contraction. Putin himself will become persona non grata, unable to travel or access his overseas assets.

Read the rest here.

“Too Bad” 아쉽다, 아깝다, 안타깝다 | Korean FAQ

Do you know these three verbs? 아쉽다, 아깝다, and 안타깝다.

These are three verbs which can often be translated the same way in English, as "too bad." But each of these are used in different situations, so it's important to be able to tell the difference between them.

In this video I give a simple explanation of their differences. Check it out here~!

The post “Too Bad” 아쉽다, 아깝다, 안타깝다 | Korean FAQ appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

Eunsusa Temple – 은수사 (Jinan, Jeollabuk-do)

Eunsusa Temple in Maisan Provincial Park in Jinan, Jeollabuk-do.

Temple History

Eunsusa Temple, which means “Silver Water Temple” in English, is located in Maisan Provincial Park on the ridge above Tapsa Temple in Jinan, Jeollabuk-do. The temple was first called Sangwonsa Temple during the early part of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Sangwonsa Temple would fall into disrepair and a hermitage was built on the temple’s former grounds. This hermitage would be named Jeongmyeongam Hermitage. The current name of the temple, Eunsusa Temple, and according to legend, was made when King Taejo of Joseon (r. 1392-1398) visited the temple. After he made the comment that the water flowing nearby was as clean and smooth as pure silver, the temple would eventually be changed to its current name of Eunsusa Temple.

In 1920, and after Jeongmyeongam Hermitage fell into disrepair, Eunsusa Temple was built by a man named Lee Ju bu. It was at this time that the temple was renamed Eunsusa Temple. And in 1982, the largest wooden drum in Korea was produced and is housed at Eunsusa Temple. Interestingly, and more recently, a stone statue of Samshin was found at the temple from the early Joseon Dynasty. Originally, and in 1970, Eunsusa Temple was registered as a Jogye-jong Order temple. In 1985, the temple would change to the Taego-jong Order.

Eunsusa Temple is home to Natural Monument #386, which is the Chinese Pear Tree of Eunsusa Temple. In Korean, it is known as a “Cheongsilbae – 청실배.” This species of pear tree is extremely rare, and it’s only known to grow in Korea at Eunsusa Temple. It’s believed that the tree is about 650 years old. It stands about 18 metres in height and 2.8 metres around. The pears on these trees start off as green or brown, but they change to yellow as they ripen during the fall. According to a temple legend, this Chinese pear tree was planted as a seed by King Taejo of Joseon (r. 1392-1398). It was planted as a token of appreciation by King Taejo of Joseon after praying at the temple.

Admission to the temple, by way of Tapsa Temple, is 3,000 won. However, if you pay 3,000 won, you can see three temples at Maisan Provincial Park: Tapsa Temple, Geumdangsa Temple, and Eunsusa Temple.

Temple Layout

You first approach Eunsusa Temple up a short, paved pathway to the right of Tapsa Temple. Eunsusa Temple is located under Sutmaibong, or “Elephant Peak” in English. You’ll finally come to a clearing, where you’ll find the monks’ dorms to your right. Just behind the monks’ dorms is a shrine hall dedicated to the Dangun, who was the legendary founder of Gojoseon (unknown – 108 B.C.). Gojoseon was the first Korean kingdom. The exterior walls to this hexagonal shrine hall are adorned with various paintings like the “Irwol-do – 일월도,” or the “Sun and the Moon Painting” in English. The sun and the moon are meant to symbolize the king and queen, while the five peaks are meant to symbolize a mythical place. However, in this painting that adorns the shrine hall dedicated to Dangun, there are only four mountains in the painting, and there are three red pines in the foreground. Also, there is only one fast flowing stream pouring out from the mountain below the sun, instead of the traditional fast flowing two streams. Stepping inside this temple shrine hall, and adorning the ceiling of the structure, is a swirling kaleidoscope colours. Below this ceiling, and on the main altar, is a painting dedicated to Dangun. To the right is an all-white image of Sanshin-dosa, who is the spirit of mountain passes. And on the left wall, you’ll find a mounted image dedicated to the hierarchy of shaman deities.

Just up the neighbouring embankment, and straight ahead of you, you’ll find the collection of the Chinese pear trees that are Natural Monument #386. Close to these ultra rare pear trees is the Jong-ru Pavilion. Housed inside this bell pavilion is the largest wooden drum in Korea.

Just behind the trees and the Jong-ru Pavilion are a collection of temple shrine halls. The first to the far left is the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall. As you enter the main hall, you’ll notice a triad of smaller statues on the main altar. In the centre rests an image of Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). This central statue is joined on either side by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) and Nosana-bul (The Perfect Body Buddha). In the far left corner is a collection of statues which include the Nahan (The Historical Disiciples of the Buddha). And on the far right wall is the Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural). There’s also an older mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) in this area, as well.

Next to the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall is the Geukrak-jeon Hall. Housed inside this temple shrine hall, and sitting on the main altar, is a triad centred by Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). This image is joined on either side Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). And in the far left corner of the Geukrak-jeon Hall is an altar dedicated to Jijang-bosal. This altar is joined by a large Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural).

The final temple shrine hall that visitors can explore at Eunsusa Temple is the Samseong-gak Hall. Careful with your head when entering this shaman shrine hall, because the entryway is rather low. As you enter, you’ll find an older Shinjung Taenghwa to your left. On the main altar is a statue dedicated to the all-white Sanshin-dosa, as well as a statue and painting dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). The image of Sanshin is dressed in a red robe pulled up near his ears. And to the right of Sanshin are seven statues that depict Chilseong (The Seven Stars). And these seven statues are backed by one of the larger murals dedicated to Chilseong that I’ve seen in Korea.

To the right of the Samseong-gak Hall, and down a little, you’ll find a large bronze statue dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). And joining this statue is a granite fountain with some silvery smooth mountain water flowing into it.

How To Get There

From the Jinan Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take a bus bound for Maisan Provincial Park. These buses leave every 40 minutes, and the first bus to leave the station leaves at 7:30 a.m. and runs until 6 p.m. Once you’re dropped off at the entry to Maisan Provincial Park, you’ll need to walk up the 1.5 km long pathway that leads you to Tapsa Temple. Once at Tapsa Temple, you’ll need to head up a steep set of stairs to the right of Tapsa Temple. Hike up this trail for 300 metres, and you’ll finally be at Eunsusa Temple.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Besides the amazing scenery that surrounds Eunsusa Temple, which is stunning, the main highlight to the temple is the temple shrine hall dedicated to Dangun. There are other highlights, as well, like the Sanshin painting inside the Samseong-gak Hall, the Chinese pear trees, and the golden Nahan statues inside the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall. So the next time you’re visiting the neighbouring Tapsa Temple, take a little time to see Eunsusa Temple, as well.

The temple grounds of Eunhasa Temple.
Mt. Maisan framing the entire temple grounds.
The shrine hall dedicated to Dangun.
The Irwol-do adorning the exterior wall of the shrine hall dedicated to Dangun.
The interior with a beautiful mural of Dangun inside.
A closer look at the mythical founder of Korea.
A painting of Sanshin-dosa inside the shrine hall dedicated to Dangun.
The Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall.
The interior of the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall with the main altar to the left.
The Nahan shrine inside the main hall.
The main altar inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall.
And the painting of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) and a statue of Sanshin-dosa (left) inside the Samseong-gak Hall.

Master Politeness Levels with Billy Go | #2: Intro to Politeness Levels

Check out the newest episode of my course, "Master Politeness Levels." In this lesson you'll get an overview of politeness levels, and learn why they're so important.

Every week I'll upload a new episode of this course. There will be a total of 24 episodes once it's completed.

If you're a Member of my YouTube channel you can (as of today) watch up to Lesson 11 of this course too, with more on the way soon.

The post Master Politeness Levels with Billy Go | #2: Intro to Politeness Levels appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

Kwanumsa Temple – 관음사 (Kaesong, Hwanghaebuk-to North Korea)

The Kwanumsa Temple Grounds Prior to 1932. The Picture is from the Buddhist Art of North Korea: Documentation in Gelatin Dry Plates.

Temple History

Kwanumsa Temple [Gwaneumsa Temple] is located on Mt. Chonmasan near Kaesong, North Korea. The temple is named after Kwanum, or Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). And it should be noted that some of the spelling in this post will be based on North Korean spelling. This small temple is located between two mountains in a valley. The two mountains are Mt. Chonmasan (757 m) and Mt. Songgosan; and at the back of the valley, you’ll find Pakyon Falls. Kwanumsa Temple was first established in 970 A.D. by the monk Beopin, when he placed two marble statues of Gwanseeum-bosal inside a cave behind the temple. As for the temple, and the temple shrine halls, they were first constructed in 1393 at the start of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

Kwanumsa Temple was rebuilt in 1477 after it had collapsed from a destructive landslide. Later, Kwanumsa Temple was renovated in 1646. A rather interesting legend surrounds this temple. During the 1646 renovation, the Taeung-jeon Hall’s [Daeung-jeon Hall] doors were adorned with floral latticework. However, one of these doors was left unfinished. One of the main carvers of the temple was a twelve year old boy named Unna. He was famous for his skill as a carver. One day, while working on these doors on the Taeung-jeon Hall, he heard that his mother was seriously ill, so he asked to be allowed to visit her. Sadly, he was refused; and not long after, his mother died. Unna blamed himself for his mother’s death. If only he wasn’t so skilled as a carver, he could have helped his mother. Out of grief, Unna used a carving axe to cut off his hand. Afterwards, he disappeared into the neighbouring woods, never to be seen of again. Rather interestingly, you can now see a carving of Unna on the front latticework of the Taeung-jeon Hall [Daeung-jeon Hall]. In this wooden carving, Unna has one hand pointed upwards towards the heavens, and he’s riding on the back of a white tiger with his hand missing. This wooden carving of Unna is placed on the door that he left unfinished.

As for the temple itself, Kwanumsa Temple is North Korean National Treasure #125. And the Marble Avalokitesvara Statue of Kwanumsa Temple is National Treasure #156.

Temple Layout

Kwanumsa Temple is a smaller sized temple that simply consists of a Taeung-jeon Hall [Daeung-jeon Hall], monks’ dorms, an auxiliary building, a seven-story pagoda in the main temple courtyard, and the cave to the rear of the temple grounds that houses the historic statue of Gwansseeum-bosal.

You first approach Kwanumsa Temple up a long valley. The trail twists and turns until you come to the temple grounds. The first thing to draw your attention will be the Taeung-jeon Hall [Daeung-jeon Hall]. And out in front of the Taeung-jeon Hall is a slender seven-story stone pagoda to the centre left in the main temple courtyard.

Climbing the stairs to the elevated main hall, you’ll find beautiful floral latticework at the front of the Taeung-jeon Hall. This latticework includes the one-handed image of Unna riding a white tiger. Stepping inside the compact Taeung-jeon Hall, you’ll find a large red canopy, under which resides a triad of statues. In the centre rests a seated image of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). This central image is joined on either side by two standing images dedicated to Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). Looking up and around the interior of the Taeung-jeon Hall, you’ll find beautiful and intricate wooden eaves. And to the right front of the main hall, you’ll find both the auxiliary building and the monks’ dorms.

And to the rear of the temple grounds, you’ll find the Kwanum-gul Cave. This cave houses the Marble Avalokitesvara Statue of Kwanumsa Temple, which is National Treasure #156. This holy site has existed at the temple since its founding. The seated image of the Marble Avalokitesvara Statue of Kwanumsa Temple is made of milky-white marble, and it stands 1.2 metres in height. It wears a beautiful crown, and it’s clothed in beautiful, delicate clothing. It’s believed that the the Marble Avalokitesvara Statue of Kwanumsa Temple dates back to 970 A.D. and the founding of Kwanumsa Temple.

On your way up to the Kwanum-gul Cave, you’ll find a tortoise-based stele on a large boulder. It’s unclear when this stele dates back to, but it definitely seems older in age.

How To Get There

For now, in today’s political climate, you don’t. But hopefully one day soon we can. Below is a map of where to find Kwanumsa Temple in Kaesong, Hwanghaebuk-to, North Korea.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Again, for being located in the off-limits North Korea, it rates as high as it does. Hopefully one day soon it won’t be so off-limits. The main highlights to Kwanumsa Temple is the Taeung-jeon Hall [Daeung-jeon Hall] and its beautiful latticework, as well as the Kwanum-gul Cave with the Marble Avalokitesvara Statue of Kwanumsa Temple housed inside it. Also adding to the temple’s overall rating its the location in which it’s situated.

Historical Pictures of Kwanumsa Temple

The Taeung–jeon Hall [Daeung-jeon Hall] prior to 1932. (Picture courtesy of the Buddhist Art of North Korea: Documentation in Gelatin Dry Plates).
A different angle of the Taeung-jeon Hall [Daeung-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of the Buddhist Art of North Korea: Documentation in Gelatin Dry Plates).
The seven-story stone pagoda at Kwanumsa Temple. (Picture courtesy of the Buddhist Art of North Korea: Documentation in Gelatin Dry Plates).
Some of the latticework adorning the Taeung-jeon Hall. (Picture courtesy of the Joseon Gojeok Dobo, 1932).
Some more of the beautiful latticework adorning the Taeung-jeon Hall [Daeung-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of the Joseon Gojeok Dobo, 1932).
Some of the intricate wooden eaves of the Taeung-jeon Hall at Kwanumsa Temple. (Picture courtesy of the Joseon Gojeok Dobo, 1932).
The main altar inside the Taeung-jeon Hall [Daeung-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of the Joseon Gojeok Dobo, 1932).
And a look around the interior of the Taeung-jeon Hall [Daeung-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of the Joseon Gojeok Dobo, 1932).

Kwanumsa Temple Now (Dec., 2007)

The Taeung-jeon Hall [Daeung-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).
The one-handed Unna riding a white tiger. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).
A dragon adorning the Taeung-jeon Hall [Daeung-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).
The seven-story pagoda in the temple courtyard. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).
The main altar inside the Taeung-jeon Hall [Daeung-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).
The Marble Avalokitesvara Statue of Kwanumsa Temple inside the Kwanum-gul Cave to the rear of the temple grounds. (Picture courtesy of Wikipedia).

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