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Origins – The Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.)

The Goguryeo Kingdom in 476 A.D., Nearly One Hundred Years After Having Entered the Kingdom (Picture Courtesy of Wikipedia).

The ancient Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.) was once located in present day southern Manchuria, the Russian Maritime Provinces, and the northern part of the Korean peninsula. Just before Buddhism was introduced to the Goguryeo Kingdom, and during the reign of King Gogugwon of Goguryeo (r. 331 – 371 A.D.), it was devastated by several natural disasters. In 365 A.D., there was a large earthquake. And in 368 A.D., there was a severe drought, which resulted in a massive famine, and reported cannibalism, in 369 A.D. It was under these circumstances that people lost faith in the indigenous religion of Korean shamanism. Also, the Goguryeo Kingdom had been dealt severe militaristic blows by the neighbouring Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 B.C.). In fact, in 371 A.D., Goguryeo’s largest city, Pyongyang (now in present day North Korea), was sacked and the Goguryeo king, King Gogugwon, was killed in the Battle of Chiyang. It was under these circumstances that the Goguryeo Kingdom had to re-organize its institutions: both politically and religiously. As a result of these combined problems, both natural and man-made, the Goguryeo Kingdom needed something new to believe in. And it was through political circumstances that this belief, in the form of Buddhism, came about.

Monk Ado-hwasang, the founding monk that helped introduce Buddhism to the Goguryeo Kingdom.

Buddhism was first introduced to the Korean peninsula through the Goguryeo Kingdom in 372 A.D. Similar to shamanism, Buddhism also believed in good fortune. This similarity made it easier to be accepted by the indigenous Korean population. This acceptance was recorded in the Samguk Sagi, or “The History of the Three Kingdoms” in English. In the Samguk Sagi, it’s recorded that “In the summer of the sixth month of the second year [of King Sosurim’s reign] 372 C.E., King Fu Jian (r. 357 – 385) of Qin dispatched an envoy and the Buddhist monk Sundo (613-681 A.D.) with Buddhist images and Buddhist texts.” In return, as a sign of appreciation, King Sosurim sent an envoy to China with gifts. And in just two years, the Chinese monk, Ado-hwasang of Former Qin, visited the Goguryeo Kingdom. This is supported, again, by the Samguk Sagi. It states, “In the fourth year [of King Sosurim’s reign], the monk Ado came. In the spring of the second month of the fifth year [375 A.D.], Seongmunsa Temple was built for Sundo and Ibullamsa Temple for Ado. That was the beginning of Buddhism in Haedong [Korea].” Thus, the early spread of Buddhism along the Korean peninsula started. And the reason it was adopted so readily in the Goguryeo Kingdom, as was hinted at before, was for political reasons. Former Qin China was a very powerful neighbour, and the Goguryeo Kingdom didn’t want to create any problems with their more powerful neighbour. So Buddhism, a religion that has helped define the nation of Korea, was first accepted to politically appease, and smooth over, relations with the Former Qin Chinese.

As a bit of an interesting side note, it’s a bit hard to believe that Buddhism only arrived in Korea when the royal court officially recognized it in 372 A.D. And this hunch would be correct, because records exist stating that Buddhism was present in the Goguryeo Kingdom prior to 372 A.D. A letter written by the monk Chih-tao-lin (314 – 366 A.D.), who was from Eastern Qin, was written to a Goguryeo monk. This letter appears in the “Liang Biographies of Eminent Monks.” In this letter, the writer praises Chu Chien (268 – 374 A.D.), who was another monk from Eastern Qin. Unfortunately, the exact date of the letter is unknown; however, it’s fair to assume that Chin-tao-lin wrote it sometime during his lifetime, which predates the generally help belief that Buddhism arrived in the Korean peninsula in 372 A.D. So while Buddhism was officially recognized by the Goguryeo court in 372 A.D., certainly a form of Buddhism predates this important year in Korean Buddhist history. What is most likely is that Buddhism was known to a small group of individuals in the Goguryeo Kingdom.

Gwanggaeto the Great (r. 391 – 413 A.D.) (Picture Courtesy of My Koguryo).

Twenty years later, and through institutional reform, Buddhism had grown so much during Gwanggaeto the Great’s rule (r. 391 – 413) that there were nine temples in the city of Pyongyang. Monk Tanoki was the first monk to really promote Buddhism in the Goguryeo Kingdom. Monk Tanoki was a foreign born monk from Former Qin (351 – 394 A.D.). He arrived in Goguryeo in 395 A.D.. With him, he brought several Buddhist texts. He achieved most of what he accomplished in the promotion of Buddhism in Liaodong, Goguryeo, before returning to Former Qin China in 405 A.D. King Gwanggaeto the Great did a lot himself to promote Buddhism in the Goguryeo Kingdom. He ordered officials to build national temples and repair royal ancestral shrines. This, for obvious reasons, helped Buddhism spread both through royal recognition and patronage. And with strong and active diplomatic ties with Northern Wei (386 – 534) and Southern Qi (479 – 502), the Goguryeo Kingdom became the strongest kingdom in Northeast Asia; and with it, the spread of Buddhism continued to grow. Interestingly, it was during this time that the prominent monk Uiyeon headed diplomatic initiatives for Goguryeo. He studied in Southern Qi, in the capital city of Ye. During his studies, he focused on a series of Mahayana Buddhism texts like the “Ten Stages Sutra,” and “Great Perfection of Wisdom Treatise.” It was this knowledge that helped to further Buddhism in Korea. Additionally, it was with this knowledge that he started an academic tradition through Mahayana Buddhism all across the Korean peninsula.

There are a couple of interesting things that occurred in the Goguryeo Kingdom as Buddhism took root. First, and through archaeological finds at Goguryeo tombs, paintings inside the tombs prove that Buddhism, shamanism, and Taoism co-existed in the religious lives of the upper class. Secondly, early Buddhism monks were also employed as spies for the nation. An example of this is when the monk Torim went to the Baekje Kingdom, during King Jangsu of Goguryeo’s reign (r. 413 – 491), where he was accepted at the royal court. As part of his efforts, he acquired information and depleted the Baekje financial resources. Furthermore, his efforts helped lead to the capture of the Baekje capital of Hansan in 475 A.D. by Goguryeo forces. Also, in the final few decades of Goguryeo Kingdom’s existence, the monk Dokchang, in 642 A.D., managed to garner information about a planned attack against the Goguryeo Kingdom by a military force of some 10,000 Silla soldiers.

Toji Temple in Kyoto, Japan.

In the latter stages of the Goguryeo Kingdom, several monks traveled to Japan to promote Goguryeo Buddhism. In fact, the Goguryeo monk Hyeja went to Japan and taught Prince Shotoku (574 – 622 A.D.) in 595 A.D. Additionally, the Baekje Kingdom’s monk Hyechong also visited Japan to promote Korean Buddhism in 595 A.D., as well. These two monks helped create the foundation for Japanese Buddhism. As a result of these efforts, in October, 596 A.D., Hokoji Temple was built by royal order in Japan.

The Goguryeo Kingdom was the first to accept and promote Buddhism on the Korean peninsula. While never as popular as it would become in the Baekje and Silla Kingdoms, the Goguryeo Kingdom would play an integral part in the transmission of Buddhism throughout the rest of the Korean peninsula and the Far East. Initially accepted for political reasons, Buddhism in the Goguryeo Kingdom would eventually grow through royal and popular support. In fact, it became so well established and respected that it helped form, in part, the foundation of Buddhism in Japan.

많다 versus 많이 있다 | Korean FAQ

A common question I hear is "How is saying 많아요 different than 많이 있어요?" And although I've answered it before in various comments, I've never made a video explaining it in more detail before.

많다 and 많이 있다 can both be used to say that there is "a lot" of something, and both are grammatically correct. But one of them might be preferred in some situations. I'll show you how they're different, when you might want to use one or the other.

The post 많다 versus 많이 있다 | Korean FAQ appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

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TOPIK – What You Need To Know About this Korean Test

Are planning to take the TOPIK?

If you are already somewhat familiar with studying Korean or studying in South Korea as a foreigner, you may have heard the word TOPIK mentioned a few times. But what is that word, exactly? What does it stand for? And is it something you should care about?

In this article, we will go over the TOPIK exam together with you!


What is a TOPIK test?

TOPIK stands for “Test of Proficiency in Korean.” It is an exam offered multiple times a year – six different dates to be precise – for non-native speakers of Korean to test their Korean skills, whatever their level and experience may be. It is administered by the National Institute for International Education, or NIIED for short, which is a branch of the South Korean Ministry of Education.

Korean Proficiency Test

This Korean language proficiency test is especially popular among foreigners wishing to find professional employment in companies in Korea, foreigners who want a residency visa in Korea, bring the family to Korea, and other equivalent reasons.

If you’re an international student, you can even use your TOPIK grades to get into a university in South Korea. Because it takes a few weeks from taking the exam to receive the grades, it is essential to schedule the exam based on when you need to have its scores in hand! Your score for each TOPIK test is valid for two years.

TOPIK Test Format

Previously there were three different levels of TOPIK scores: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The test consisted of four different sections: grammar and vocabulary, listening, reading, and writing. This was the format of TOPIK until 2014.

A new format has been in effect from the 35th TOPIK test onward, with the exam conducted in July 2014. There are now two levels.

New TOPIK Levels

The Two levels are TOPIK Level 1 and TOPIK Level 2. TOPIK I (or Level 1) is the equivalent of beginner (levels 1 and 2) in the old format, and TOPIK II (or Level 2) covers both intermediate and advanced levels (levels 3 to 6) in the old format.

Now for TOPIK I the test consists of only reading and listening, and TOPIK II has reading, listening, and also writing. However, the grammar and vocabulary section has been eliminated from both.

To reach the higher level in TOPIK I, you are expected to have an understanding of simple daily conversations (both formal and informal), formulate simple sentences, as well as be able to manage some public tasks in your everyday life in Korean. Meanwhile, to get the highest level in TOPIK II, your proficiency is expected to be at a level where you can function in Korean in professional tasks, research environments, comprehend a wide range of ideas and expressions, and be able to understand complex topics such as economics, politics, or topics related to the professional field.

How long is the TOPIK exam?

Excluding the writing portion, TOPIK II is fully a multiple-choice test. TOPIK I lasts for approximately two hours, while TOPIK II with the writing portion takes three hours to complete.

What is a good score on the TOPIK?

Below we’ll tell you the recommended score that you must achieve to pass the different levels.

TOPIK 1 Score

This is the equivalent to the beginner level in the old format

Each segment of the exam is worth 100 points. You need to achieve over 80 points in your test results to pass the exam. You’ll need 140 points in your results to receive level two in the exam

TOPIK 2 Score

The second level covers intermediate and advanced levels in the old format.

You need to achieve at least 120 points in your results to pass TOPIK II. To achieve the highest level in the exam, you should get at least 230 points on your results

How do you register for TOPIK?

If you are in Korea at the time of registering, you can do so at the official site for the exam, where you will also get to choose the location of the exam based on availability. Make sure you check out the official site links regularly for the announcement official date of registration and the form needed. The fee is 35,000WON for TOPIK I and 40,000WON for TOPIK II. You can pay the fee with your debit or credit card, online bank transfer, or an offline direct bank transfer. You’ll also need to include a photo in your application.

If you are in another country overseas, you should visit the local Korean embassies and Korean culture centers to register. Their websites should also show the official announcement on the date of registration and the exam. In addition to the registration fee, which is different one per country, you also need to bring along 2 passport-sized photos.

Whether you are in Korea or a different country overseas, TOPIK is always conducted in person. It is not possible to take the test online at this time.

TOPIK Test Schedule

For the year 2021, the Korean government has released several dates on when the registration will be. If you plan to take the test in your country, you should contact the Korean embassy or those who offer testing assistance services in your area for the exact dates of registration and other information.

However, if you plan to take the test in Korea, you can find the schedules below

Date of Examination – Registration

January – December 8, 2020 – December 14, 2020

April – January 29, 2021 – February 4, 2021

May – March 9, 2021 – March 15, 2021

July – May 21, 2021 – May 27, 2021

October – August 3, 2021 – August 9, 2021

November- September 7, 2021 – September 13, 2021

You can also check out NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION(NIIED) for more information on TOPIK.

How to prepare for the TOPIK test?

Typically the preparation directly for TOPIK is self-study and practice. Of course, attending a Korean language class, in general, will always help improve your skill and proficiency.

Korean Immigration Integration Program (KIIP)

In South Korea, you can enroll in a language school or the KIIP (Korean immigration integration program) program. KIIP is free to attend, but you will have to take a separate placement exam for it; in fact, most students first take the test and then register for the KIIP program using their average score to be assigned to the proper level. So a full-fledged Korean language school may prove to be a better tool, although KIIP is not as intensive in its course load if you do not have the time to enroll in a language school.

Online Language Course

For the other countries outside of Korea, you may seek out a physical class, or you may utilize many resources online to practice! For example, even our 90DayKorean program can be of great help while preparing to take TOPIK. It is not a prep course for the TOPIK test, but you can learn the fundamentals you’ll need to know for TOPIK. You can access the site wherever through a simple browser or by downloading our application. You can do so in a fun, easy, and stress-free way. This program is best for all levels, from beginners and intermediate or advanced learners.

Books and TOPIK Practice Tests

However, if you are looking to focus your studies specifically on TOPIK, your best bet is to search for books and/or a site with content dedicated to this exam. These items will cover the topics that you may come across while taking TOPIK. A test book is a guide with mock exams based on the exact way the exam is constructed and will help you measure your preparedness for the exam. Also, you may be able to find a site online with old examinations for you to print and try out; some of them are also based on actual exams! These items guarantee results.

What are the best books to prepare for TOPIK?

Because the test can be pretty tricky and test you on topics and materials that are more academic than what you’d need to know in your daily life, you may want to use some TOPIK-specific materials during your preparation for the test, even if you are already attending a Korean class.

You can study the old examinations(and their answers) here. This book for TOPIK I and this book for TOPIK II are some of the most comprehensive books with great content that you can find. In addition to books and a good TOPIK guide, you may want to listen to the Korean language as much as possible through as many different options possible, from dramas to news to prepare for the test.

Should you take TOPIK?

It is up to you and your goals whether you want to take TOPIK! It is available for any Korean learner to take, even those living outside of Korea, to take. There are also multiple test dates to choose from, so the schedule is not an issue. More importantly, it’s also not that expensive. So what do you have to lose if you take it once, even if it’s just for once?

Why should you take TOPIK?

There are multiple reasons you should seriously consider taking TOPIK.

Firstly, a good TOPIK score may help you gain entry to study in a university in Korea. It may also exempt you from taking further language classes before starting your studies. Additionally, once you are in university in South Korea, it is often mandatory to take the TOPIK before graduating.

Additionally, a certificate and a good score from TOPIK will also help you find a job in good Korean companies Korea. And it will also give you points when you apply for a residency visa!

When should you take TOPIK?

If you want to be serious about taking this proficiency test in Korean, you might want to wait until it is time to take it. The test can be pretty difficult and stressful, especially the listening portion. Perhaps you may not want to study hard for it to test yourself.

Now that you know what kind of a test TOPIK is, do you have a schedule to take it? Have you already tried taking TOPIK before, and were you glad about the score you received? If you will take TOPIK soon, what is your motivation to take it? Let us know in the comments!

The post TOPIK – What You Need To Know About this Korean Test appeared first on 90 Day Korean®.

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Shopping inside a GIANT 4-story Daiso? | Wonju Tour Part 1/3 (원주)

I made my first trip up to the city of Wonju (원주) to visit my friend 의주, and to commemorate the special occasion she offered to buy me a souvenir... at Daiso (다이소).

Daiso is a 1,000 Won shop (about $1) that's popular all over Korea, and it's one of my favorite places to shop for general things like home goods or even small souvenirs. This video is not sponsored in any way.

The post Shopping inside a GIANT 4-story Daiso? | Wonju Tour Part 1/3 (원주) appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

Jeseoksa Temple – 제석사 (Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

Inside the Wonhyo-seongsa-jeon Hall at Jeseoksa Temple in Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Temple History

Jeseoksa Temple is located in the eastern part Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do. Gyeongsan is also the home to the famed monk Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.). A little more on Wonhyo-daesa later. As for the temple, Jeseoksa Temple is named after Jeseok-bul (King of Heaven Buddha, or Indra). According to legend, the temple was built some four hundred years earlier. A local farmer found a statue of the Buddha and a part of a pagoda, so it was decided to build a temple on the current Jeseoksa Temple grounds. It is claimed by some that these artifacts date all the way back to Later Silla (668 – 935 A.D.). And some go even further by claiming that the temple was originally built by Wonhyo-daesa. However, there is no documentation to prove this claim. According to the Samguk Yusa, or “Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms” in English, Wonhyo-daesa built two temples. One of these temples was built where he was born, while the other was built where he once lived. One of these temples was called Sarasa Temple, and the other was called Chogaesa Temple. So it’s guessed by some scholars that the older temple that was discovered on the present Jeseoksa Temple grounds was originally from the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. – 935 A.D). And according to the “Korean Temple History Book – 한국사찰전서,” the Daeung-jeon Hall at Jeseoksa Temple was built in 1962, while the neighbouring Chilseong-gak Hall was built three years later in 1965.

Now, as for Wonhyo-daesa, for which the temple is so intimately connected, he would donate all of his family’s wealth and enter to become a Buddhist monk at the age of fifteen. He would go on to build his first temple called Chogaesa Temple at his home. And later, he built Jeseoksa Temple beside a Sara-su tree, which was where he was born. With his friend, Uisang-daesa (625 – 702 A.D.), they would attempt to enter Tang Dynasty China (618–690, 705–907). On their way, they decided to sleep inside a cave and take shelter from a storm. While he was sleeping, Wonhyo-daesa became thirsty, so he reached out his hand towards a bucket of water in the dark. After taking a drink, he thought that the water was good. The next day, Uisang and Wonhyo woke up and realized that they were inside a tomb and not a cave. And the water that Wonhyo drank came from inside a skull. At this moment, Wonhyo suddenly realized, “All the phenomenon in this world are from your own mind and every law is only realization/awareness? There is no other law beside your mind, why would you look for other things?” Instead of travelling on towards Tang China like Uisang-daesa would do, Wonhyo left his friend and returned to the Silla Kingdom. Later, Wonhyo would study at Bunhwangsa Temple in Gyeongju. It was here that he would die.

Temple Layout

As you first enter the compact temple grounds, you’ll pass through a corridor-like entry gate. Painted on the entry doors, you’ll notice a pair of fierce Narayeon Geumgang and Miljeok Geumgang (The Twin Guardians of Korean Temples) murals. To the left, and past an old gnarled tree, you’ll see the visitors centre and nuns’ dorms.

Straight ahead of you, on the other hand, is the Daeung-jeon Hall. The exterior walls are adorned with the traditional Palsang-do (The Eight Scenes from the Buddha’s Life). And the front latticework beautifully depicts reliefs of the Four Heavenly Kings with quizzical looks upon each of their faces. There are also intricate dragon heads up near the eaves of the front facade, and detailed reliefs of Gwimyeon (Monster Mask) at the base of the front entry doors of the Daeung-jeon Hall. Stepping inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, you’ll find a triad of golden statues resting on the main altar. In the centre rests an image of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). To this statue’s right and left are images of Yaksayeorae-bul (The Medicine Buddha, and the Buddha of the Eastern Paradise) and Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). This triad is meant to represent the idea of Samsara. Rounding out the Buddhist artwork inside the Daeung-jeon Hall is the temple’s Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural) as well as a Dragon Ship of Wisdom mural.

To the left of the Daeung-jeon Hall, and past a tortoise-based biseok, you’ll find the newly constructed Samseong-gak Hall (which seems to have replaced the former Chilseong-gak Hall). Housed inside this shaman shrine hall are three murals dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars), Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). But it’s the longer ear lobed mural dedicated to Sanshin that sits with his leopard-looking tiger that stands out the most among the three.

But it’s the temple shrine to the right of the Daeung-jeon Hall that’s the main highlight to Jeseoksa Temple. This temple shrine hall is known as the Wonhyo-seongsa-jeon – 원효성사전, and it was first built in 2003. The exterior walls to this hall are adorned with various murals from the life of Wonhyo-daesa. These murals include the fish pointing scene from the founding of Oeosa Temple in Pohang, as well as the friendship between Uisang-daesa and Wonhyo-daesa.

But the true highlight to this structure hangs inside the Wonhyo-seongsa-jeon Hall. Housed inside this temple shrine hall are a collection of eight paintings that are artistically similar to the traditional Palsang-do (The Eight Scenes from the Buddha’s Life) set, but they’re original in their own right, as well. Instead of depicting the traditional scenes from the Historical Buddha’s Life, they depict eight original scenes from Wonhyo-daesa’s life. And the entire life of Wonhyo-daesa is brilliantly captured in this set of eight murals.

So in the traditional Palsang-do, you’ll find eight paintings. These paintings, in order, depict: 1. The Announcement of the Birth; 2. Birth; 3. The World Outside the Palace; 4. Renunciation; 5. Asceticism; 6. Temptations; 7. Enlightenment; 8. Death.

An up-close of the first mural in the Wonhyo version of the Palsang-do set.

As for the Palsang-do set dedicated to Wonhyo-daesa inside the Wonhyo-seongsa-jeon Hall, and located left to right inside the hall, you’ll find:

1. In the first mural, you’ll see Wonhyo-daesa being born underneath a chestnut tree, where his mother subsequently passed away. By the age of twelve, Wonhyo’s father died in battle and his grandfather passed away when he was seventeen years old.

2. In the second mural, you’ll find Wonhyo has left home, and he’s shaved his head at Yongchwisa Temple in Yangsan. He studies at Hwangnyongsa Temple. And he learns from a monk named Nangja at Bangosa Temple. Finally, you’ll find Wonhyo studying hard at Oeosa Temple in Pohang with the monk Haegong.

3/4. In the third and fourth mural of the set, Wonhyo meets Uisang-daesa, who was eight years his junior. Together, they try to study in Tang China at different times. The second time, Wonhyo is sleeping in a tomb near Danghangseong and attains enlightenment there. Afterwards, he gives up the idea of studying abroad with Uisang-daesa.

An up-close of the fourth painting in the Wonhyo Palsang-do set.

5. In the fifth mural, and after attaining enlightenment, Wonhyo comes home and he makes his home a temple. He calls this temple Chogaesa Temple, which means “Open the First Door Temple” in English. Wonhyo approaches war-widows and the lower class in Silla society and teaches them “Namu Amita-bul.” With this, people can now become like the Buddha and enter Nirvana.

6. In the sixth mural, you see Wonhyo marrying Princess Yoseok. In doing this, he becomes not quite a civilian and not quite a monk in Silla society. He skirts both groups.

7. In the seventh mural in the Wonhyo Palsang-do set, you can see that Wonhyo is not liked by the religious establishment in Silla society. He’s not picked as one of the one hundred high ranking monks to administer over a Buddhist memorial service at Hwangryongsa Temple in Gyeongju. However, and because he’s so popular with common people, Wonhyo quickly gathers a following of some one thousand people.

8. In the eighth, and final mural in the set, Wonhyo’s knowledge and power over moral doctrines can no longer be ignored. Because Wonhyo is so knowledgeable, especially about the Diamond Sutra, the Buddhist establishment is forced to contact Wonhyo, so that he can help explain and teach Buddhist writings. Afterwards, Wonhyo only continues to grow in popularity until his death.

This collection of eight beautiful murals rest under a extended golden canopy. And in the centre of the eight paintings sits a golden statue dedicated to Wonhyo-daesa. This shrine hall, and the paintings contained within it, are highly unique.

How To Get There

From the Gyeongsan Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to walk about three hundred metres, or five minutes, to get to the Gyeongsan Shijang (market) bus stop. From there, you’ll need to take Bus #990. After twenty stops, or twenty-one minutes, you’ll need to get off at the Jainmyeon Sahmuso (office). From there, you’ll need to walk four hundred and fifty metres, or seven minutes, to get to Jeseoksa Temple.

You can take a bus, or you can simply take a taxi from the Gyeongsan Intercity Bus Terminal. If you do decide to take a taxi, it’ll last about seventeen minutes and cost 11,000 won (one way).

Overall Rating: 7/10

While this temple is smaller in size, it more than makes up for it with all the artwork that it houses on its grounds. Jeseoksa Temple is home to the highly original Palsang-do set dedicated to Wonhyo-daesa. This beautiful collection can be found inside the equally original Wonhyo-seongsa-jeon Hall. Rounding out the beautiful artwork at Jeseoksa Temple is the latticework around the Daeung-jeon Hall, and the equally impressive mural dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) inside the Samseong-gak Hall.

The entry to the temple grounds.
The beautiful Daeung-jeon Hall.
The Sacheonwang and Gwimyeon latticework adorning the Daeung-jeon Hall.
The main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.
The newly built Samseong-gak Hall to the left of the Daeung-jeon Hall.
The Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) mural inside the shaman shrine hall.
The unique Wonhyo-seongsa-jeon Hall at Jeseoksa Temple
The exterior wall painting adorning the Wonhyo-seongsa-jeon Hall of Wonhyo and Uisang.
The seventh painting in the Wonhyo Palsang-do set with Wonhyo and his 1,000 followers.

(이)라는 "Called" | Live Class Abridged

Last Sunday was the last live Korean class until November 28th of this year. I'll be taking another short trip to Korea, so they're paused while I'm gone. However, I will try to do one regular live stream while I'm there (probably a Q&A live stream).

In Sunday's live class we learned about the grammar form (이)라는. This form can mean "called," "named," "titled," and more. I also showed how you can use the related form (이)라는 것 to mean "(the fact) that."

The post (이)라는 "Called" | Live Class Abridged appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

In the Beginning…Korean Shamanism and the Introduction of Buddhism

The Samseong-gak Shaman Shrine Hall at Chukseoam Hermitage in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Predating any and all forms of Buddhism in Korea was that of Korean shamanism. In fact, shamanism in Korea dates back to around 1,000 B.C. And ever since then, shamanism has been a part of Korean culture. Korean shamanism believed, and still believes, that human problems can be solved through an interaction between humans and spirits. These spirits are said to have power to change a person’s fortune, either good or bad. There is a rather large, and unorganized, pantheon of shaman spirits like the prominent Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) and Samshin Halmoni.

During the Three Kingdoms Period of Korea, and before Buddhism entered the Korean peninsula, the indigenous religion of shamanism was dominant. Initially, both religious and political power was indivisible; however, as time passed, these two public spheres diverged, as political power became more concentrated and shaman beliefs became more sophisticated. Religious leaders at this time no longer simply performed “magic” to gain the spirit’s favour; but instead, they became a master of rituals and ceremonies who asked the spirits for favours. As a result, political leaders no longer needed to perform these religious duties like religious festivals and burial rites. Specifically, Korean shamanism held the belief that all of nature, including humans, possessed a soul/spirit. Such objects as mountains, rivers, and trees possessed a spirit, as well. And certain objects, over others, were given divine status. Accordingly, not all spirits were thought to be good. While there were good spirits like the sun that were thought to bring good luck, there were also evil spirits that dwelt in darkness and brought bad luck. So it was necessary for shamans to act as intermediaries in this religious struggle. Ceremonies in the form of dance or chants were performed to help gain favour with the good spirits.

It was this indigenous shaman religion that Buddhism first encountered when it arrived on the Korean peninsula during the 4th century. One way Buddhism attempted to ingratiate itself to the indigenous shaman beliefs and practices was done through the acceptance of shaman deities and their shrine halls like a Sanshin-gak (Mountain Spirit Hall) onto the temple grounds. So instead of conflicting with the first form of Korean belief, Buddhism adapted and readjusted so as to become more inclusive and accommodating. And so it was by initially blending Korean shamanic belief with that of Chinese Buddhism that Korean Buddhism was first formed. However, Korean Buddhism isn’t this simple. It has many more characteristics and facets that make it distinctly Korean, which we will come to learn.

Monk Ado-hwasang that introduced Buddhism to the Goguryeo Kingdom.

Buddhism was first introduced on the Korean peninsula in 372 A.D. in the Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.), when the Chinese king, King Fu Jian (r. 357-385 A.D.), sent a monk named Shun-dae to the northern Korean kingdom. Shun-dae presented a number of Buddhist statues and texts to the Goguryeo king, King Sosurim (r. 371-384). As a thank you, King Sosurim sent an envoy, with gifts, to China. This was the first interaction Korea would have with Buddhism, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last. Two years after this initial encounter, the Chinese monk Ado of Qin traveled to the Goguryeo Kingdom. And not so coincidentally, the first two temples on the Korean peninsula, Seongmunsa Temple and Ibullamsa Temple, were built in 376 A.D. The reason that Buddhism was so easily accepted into the Goguryeo Kingdom was that they had a close relationship with the powerful Qin Chinese. And not wanting to upset their more powerful western neighbour, and ally, the Goguryeo Kingdom accepted Buddhism. As a result, the initial introduction and acceptance of Buddhism in Korea was done to smooth over any potential political tension.

The monk Marananta that introduced Buddhism to the Baekje Kingdom.

Twelve years later, in 384 A.D., and in a similar fashion to their northern neighbour of Goguryeo, Buddhism was introduced to the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D). During the first year of King Chimnyu’s reign in 384 A.D., an Indian monk by the name of Marananta came from Eastern Jin to introduce Buddhism to the Baekje Kingdom. Buddhism was mainly transmitted to Korea from China, and the Baekje Kingdom was certainly no exception.

However, while the Goguryeo and Baekje Kingdoms received Buddhism with little resistance, in the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.), it met with considerable opposition. The reason for such opposition was that the Silla Kingdom lacked a strong monarchy. It wasn’t until King Beopheung’s reign from 514-540, that Silla finally had a strong enough centralized ruler to allow Buddhism into the Silla Kingdom. Before King Beopheung’s reign, Silla was ruled by the six village chiefs of Silla. Buddhism was well received by the royal Silla court in the early 6th century, but even King Beopheung couldn’t overcome the aristocratic opposition to Buddhism until much later in his reign. It wasn’t until 535 A.D., over one hundred and fifty years after it had been introduced and accepted in the Goguryeo Kingdom that it was finally accepted in the Silla Kingdom, as well.

The tomb of King Beopheung in Gyeongju.
The Monument of Ichadon’s Martyrdom at the Gyeongju National Museum from Baengnyulsa Temple.

With this introduction of Buddhism, over a one hundred and fifty year period, Korean Buddhism would become the most dominant religion on the Korean peninsula for the next eight hundred and fifty years. It was under the initiative of the royal family in all three kingdoms that Buddhism was accepted throughout the Korean peninsula. It was viewed as a state protector, as it was also well-suited to support the new governing systems that were centred around an authoritative throne in all three kingdoms. As a result, this introduction of Buddhism throughout the Korean peninsula spread far and wide and had a major impact on all three of the Three Kingdoms, which we will come to see with more in depth posts on the history of Korean Buddhism.

Samshin Halmoni from Giwonjeongsa Temple in northern Gyeongju.

Important Hanja Pairs: 上 (상) and 下 (하) (한자) | Korean FAQ

上 (상) and 下 (하) are opposites, but are also used in different ways. I'll cover some of the most common words you'll see them in, as well as show you how you can recognize the meanings of new words that use these characters.

I've only filmed a small handful of these Hanja episodes, but if the response is good I can make more in the future. Thanks for watching~!

The post Important Hanja Pairs: 上 (상) and 下 (하) (한자) | Korean FAQ appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

Korean Vowels – Alphabet Letters for Hangeul

The Korean language has its own alphabet letters that are made up of Korean vowels and consonants.

If you have been studying with us for a while, you may have already noticed our article on learning the Korean alphabet that gives you a guide to learn Hangul.

Based on that article, in today’s lesson, we will specifically focus on Korean vowels. After this lesson, you will have a deeper understanding of what Korean or Hangul vowels are, how to pronounce them and how Korean syllables are constructed with them. Let’s get started!

Korean Vowels

What is “vowels” in Korean?

In the Korean language, vowels are referred to as 모음 (moeum).

How many vowels are in the Korean alphabet?

There are 21 vowels in the Korean language. Of these 10 are basic vowels, and the remaining 11 are double vowels built upon these basic vowels.

What are the vowels in Korean?

Korean vowels can be categorized into basic and double vowels. We’ve listed down the complete list of vowels below, along with their vowel sounds or their closest sound approximation to English letters.

Korean Basic Vowels

There are ten basic vowels in the Korean alphabet. Below is a list of the ten vowels in Hangul with their character pronunciation. However, it’s important to note that the character pronunciation below is just a close approximation of the Korean alphabet letters. Their sound may vary when they are combined with other Korean letters.

VowelsRomanized Spelling

Korean Double Vowels

There are 11 double vowels in the Korean alphabet. These Korean letters are formed by combining the basic vowels.

VowelsRomanized Spelling
wo or weo

Korean Vowel Names

Similar to all other letters of any language, such as English, Korean letters also have their assigned names. However, the naming systems for Korean consonants and vowels are different. Consonants in the Korean alphabet have their specific names assigned to each of them, while vowels simply follow the sound they produce for their names.

Let’s take a look at the different vowel names in the list below.

VowelsKorean Vowel NamesRomanized Spelling
ㅡ  eu
ㅙ wae
wo or weo


How to pronounce Korean vowels?

As with Korean consonants, the pronunciation of Korean vowels may not be directly what you expect from the romanization of the Korean word. Therefore we encourage you to learn the pronunciation directly from the 한글 (hangeul) instead.

If you’d like to focus on Korean pronunciation first before moving forward with Korean vowels specifically, we have an article focused solely on it. Otherwise, let’s keep getting friendly with Korean vowels!

The basic rule of thumb with pronouncing each Korean vowel is that each character tries to resemble the sound they make as accurately as possible.

ㅓ and ㅕvs ㅗ and ㅛ

In both ㅓ and ㅕ, the “e” is skipped in pronunciation, making their pronunciations “o” and “yo” respectively. As you may notice, there is already a different character for both “o” and “yo,” which are ㅗ and ㅛ respectively. So how do you differentiate between the sounds they make?

In both ㅗ and ㅛ your mouth forms a tight o-shape, which makes the sound more emphasized than it does in ㅓ or ㅕ.

ㅐ and ㅒ vs ㅔ and ㅖ

Similarly, in ㅐ and ㅒ, the “a” is skipped in pronunciation. In fact, the most prominent difference between pronouncing ㅐ and ㅒ versus ㅔ and ㅖ is that the e-sound is lengthier in the latter two.

Compound vowels

Additionally, take note of each vowel combining two vowels into one. Examples are ㅘ and ㅞ. While ㅗ alone has the “o” sound and ㅜ alone sounds more like “u,” when combined into a vowel with another basic vowel, both develop a sound closer to “w.” This is simply for making the vowel sound more natural.

ㅡ and ㅢ

Lastly, explaining the sound of ㅡ and ㅢ in romanized letters is the hardest as the sound is largely different from its romanization. Not necessarily more complicated, but one for which a character in the Roman alphabet does not exist. As you may notice from how the letter is drawn, your mouth is expected to form a wide stance with your lips and teeth nearly pursed together when creating the sound.

Writing on a paper

How to construct syllables with Korean vowels?

Most of the Korean syllable construction with vowels is rather straightforward. You simply add the vowel after the consonant, including the soundless one, ㅇ. Remember that ㅇ is used as the first letter in a syllable in cases where the syllable sound begins with a vowel.

If the Korean syllable has an ending consonant, then another consonant will be added after the vowel. Otherwise, you move to build the next syllable.

Syllables with double vowels

In the case of double vowels starting with ㅗ or ㅜ or ㅡ, the consonant will be added above this portion of the vowel, while the latter part of the vowel combination is “left over” as its own part of the syllable. For example, the verb 와 (wa) means “come” in the present casual tense.

It is also entirely possible for a Korean syllable to have one vowel (that is not a double vowel) with three consonants! But you will want to check the lesson for Korean consonants to learn more about this.

And that’s it for Korean vowels at this time! Perhaps you would like to move on to other Korean grammar we have in store for you? Although first, after learning both consonants and vowels, we highly recommend you learn to memorize each one, how they sound like and how you construct Korean syllable blocks and Korean words with them. You may enjoy learning this through our Korean slang article!

The post Korean Vowels – Alphabet Letters for Hangeul appeared first on 90 Day Korean®.


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