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On Taking the Long Shot & Raspberry Chocolate Cake Recipe

My family thinks I’m fucking crazy. The words they use to my face, because they love me, are “brave” and “ballsy”, but I know full well the conversations they’re having behind my back probably sound a little more like how I talk to myself. Every few years, I approach them with another little bundle of chaos in the form of my latest scheme and then sit back and watch as they purse their lips, raise their eyebrows slightly, shake their heads, and say something to the effect of, “Well, if that’s what you think you should do….”

It isn’t. It’s never what I think I should do. It’s always something I know, logically, I should absolutely not do. But sometimes I just want the things that I want, even when it seems like I’m not really supposed to have them. And like a dog trained to bad habits by too many feedings from the dinner table, things have worked out for me enough times that I haven’t learned to act better. 

I mentioned on an Instagram post yesterday that I think I’m about to bid on a house. A house that’s in the States. Via the internet. From Korea. And what’s worse is that, given the current exchange rate and the 16 percent extra fees, I can only barely manage to scrape together an offer 10k over the starting bid, which is way too low for what’s on offer. There is basically no point in me doing this. Worst case scenario, I just wasted a lot of time and a little bit of money making a pointless bid on a house that was a dream drifting on the wind to begin with. Best case scenario, I just spent all my savings to buy a house over the internet. A house I’ve never seen in a state I’ve never visited.

You don’t have to tell me. I already know. I’m 37 years old and not particularly stupid. Despite all appearances, there is a lot of thought and weighing of pros and cons that goes into my harebrained schemes. I don’t take the long shots because I think I’m likely to make them. I take them because I can’t stand the thought of a life without them. Because I don’t know what I would do with a life that was only made up of what seems obviously possible. I’m fully aware that I only get one go-round, here. But that thought doesn’t make me want to be more careful. It makes me terrified of letting fear and circumstance hem me in. It makes me want to take every chance I get to grab fistfuls of life with both hands and not let go.

Let’s be clear: forgoing an act of God, I’m not gonna get this house. I’m still not even sure I’m gonna go through the absolute circus it would take to get a bid in from another country. I’m still waiting for my gut to settle on the issue one way or another. I’ve got a little over a week before I have to decide. But at this point, it’s not really about this house anymore. I’ve been poring over real estate listings for close to two years now, but it has all just felt so murky and hypothetical. Up until this point, it was mostly a feverish self-soothing activity to prove to myself, on the evenings when I was really starting to panic, that at the very least I could manage to get a roof over my head, even if that roof didn’t also include indoor plumbing. But this week, something shifted, and I started to see the outlines of a life — a life after Korea, after everything that has happened here. 

Working in the bakery, I’ve met a lot of folks who have a foot in both worlds, just like me. Whether they were Korean and had lived in the States or were from the States and were living here, the fact that I run one of the few American-style bakeries in the city drew them into my orbit. I’ve had a lot of chats over the past few years with people who were, like me now, preparing to make a transition from one side to the other or trying, at least, to make up their minds about whether or not they should. My advice has always been that the best way to do it, if you can, is to wait until you feel like you’re running toward something instead of away from something. 

I’ve got a lot back home that I’m running toward, but to be perfectly honest, until recently, this whole shenanigan has definitely felt more like an escape plot. All of the specific reasons for that will, I’m sure, become clear to you all in time. For now, I just have to focus on getting out first. But with this house and all of the potential I saw for a life there, the balance has shifted somewhat, and this week, I don’t feel so much like an escapee. I feel more like a person who is starting something new. And I think, ultimately, that’s what the long shot gives you: a sliver of hope that you can have more than you should really dare to ask for, and the chance to see possibilities instead of probabilities. And sometimes, that’s exactly what you need. 

Here. Have a recipe for raspberry chocolate cake. 

Follow the River North

Freelance writer and editor. American in Seoul. I write about Korean food. I blog about all food. Last year I wrote a monthly column about traveling to different places around the country to explore Korean ingredients and cuisine. This ignited my interest in local foods and cooking, which I blog about regularly now. I also blog restaurant and cafe recommendations, recipes and some background and history about Korean food.

Books & Stuff    Cafés & Shops     Korean Food & Ingredients      Personal     Recipes       Restaurants & Bars

Stop Invoking the ‘Clash of Civilizations.’ There are Too Many ‘Intra-Civilizational’ Wars and Conflicts It Can’t Explain

Why Civilizations Really ClashI am fairly exhausted that this framework gets brought back to life every few years. Yes, it has an exciting historical sweep, but it is conceptually a mess and empirically doesn’t really work very well.

This essay is a re-post of an article I wrote for, based on a Twitter thread I wrote in response to a column by Ross Douthat from the New York Times. Lots of other people have criticized Huntington over the years. My concerns below are mostly conceptual – I don’t think Huntington’s civilizations hold up very well – but here is an empirical evaluation of Huntington’s troubles by a friend of mine.

In brief, my concern is that Huntington’s civilizations are just not convincingly aggregated or monolithic enough to be coherent actors. He says in the essay that conflict in the future will occur between civilizations. This means that civilizations acting en bloc will either supplement or displace states as the primary conflict actors in world politics. But this just isn’t convincing, because the divisions inside many of his civilizations are so deep and serious that they cripple his civilizations from acting as coherent agents.

Here are some intra-civilizational wars and conflicts which undercut civilizational agency (i.e., sink Huntington’s concepts of civilizations):

Russia vs Ukraine in Orthodox civilization

Rwandan genocide and ‘WWI of Africa’ after Zaire’s fall in African civilization

Sunni-Shina contestation in the Persian Gulf in Islamic civilization

Chinese contestation with Japan, Taiwan, and Vietnam, plus inter-Korean competition in Confucian civilization

In fact, a Confucian civilization so obviously  doesn’t work – because there is so much conflict within it – that Huntington doesn’t propose a Confucian civilization, enough though that’s what his framework demands! Instead he kludges: he hives off Japan as its own civilization (?) in order to, unconvincingly, accommodate Sino-Japanese competition, now can now be read as ‘inter-civilizational.’ But even that dodge doesn’t explain China-Taiwan, China-Vietnam (in the South China Sea), S Korea-NK. What a mess.

Here’s that 1945 essay:

In The New York Times recently Ross Douthat suggested that Samuel Huntington’s famous theory of global politics, the clash of civilizations, could help explain the Ukraine War and other contemporary world conflicts. This is a curious choice because academic international relations theory does not much use the clash of civilizations in research or teaching because it is riddled with conceptual and predictive errors.

It does not, in fact, explain the Ukraine War, and it woefully exaggerates the importance and coherence of ‘civilizations’ as conflict actors.

Modern Conflict is Not Always ‘Civilizational’

The most basic problem with the framework is its insistence that conflict has moved away from political, ideological, territorial, and other sources of competition to civilizational clashes.

Huntington defines civilizations via culture, especially religion, in part because he first worked it up in response to the Balkan wars of the 1990s. There the Serb-Croat-Bosnia split overlapped with an Orthodox-Catholic-Islamic division. And the harshness of that war seemed to justify Huntington’s religious pessimism.

Read the rest here.

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




Important Hanja: “Each” or “Every” 매 (每) (한자) | Korean FAQ

I keep getting asked to make more episodes about Hanja, so this will be another such episode.

Today's lesson is about the Hanja 每, which means "every." Where have you seen this Hanja used before?

The post Important Hanja: “Each” or “Every” 매 (每) (한자) | Korean FAQ appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

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How to say “English” in Korean – Useful words and sentences

Knowing how to say English in Korean and asking someone if they can speak Korean can be surprisingly handy information to know.

This article will teach you how to say English in Korean, with related phrases and vocabulary to enhance your fluency. With this information tucked in your memory, you will be well prepared for situations where you may need some English knowledge in the country.

The flags of South Korea and United Kingdom beside a text that says English in Korean

“English” in Korean

The word for English in Korean is 영어 (yeong-eo). For example:

저는 영어로 된 영화를 좋아해요. (jeoneun yeongeoro doen yeonghwareul joahaeyo)

I like movies in English.

If you’re going to use the word “English” to refer to a person, you can use the Korean word 영국사람 (yeongguksaram). For example,

알렉스는 영국 사람이에요. (allekseuneun yeongguk saramieyo.)

Alex is English.

How to say 영어 (yeong-eo) in Korean

Here is a clickable audio clip for 영어 (yeong-eo) that you can listen to.

영어 (yeong-eo)

Why is learning how to say English in Korean important?

Before we move on to the vocabulary, it’s also essential to know why learning this word is important.

Easily identify if a Korean person speaks English

While the aim is to be able to navigate your way through Korea while speaking the Korean language, sometimes situations arise – especially at the start of your journey – where it’s far easier to explain something in English, if possible. After all, Korean might still be a new language to you.

In this way, you can ask rather than just assume that they don’t communicate in English.

Easily find someone who speaks English in South Korea

Although not all Koreans can speak English, you can always find an English native speaker in the country. Therefore, it’s good to know some vocabulary and phrases and their meaning with which you can change the conversation language into English when needed.

How to say “I Speak English” in Korean

While in Korea, you may be asked if you can speak English. Here are some examples of ways to answer that in Korean. You may also use these as questions to confirm if your conversation partner can communicate in English.

저는 영어를 할 수 있어요. (jeoneun yeongeoreul hal su isseoyo.)

영어를 할 줄 알아요. (yeongeoreul hal jul arayo.)

How to say “Do you speak English” in Korean?

This is how you say “Do you speak English?” in Korean in a polite and formal way:

영어를 할 수 있으세요? (yeongeoreul hal su isseuseyo?)

This is how you can say the same in Korean a little bit more casually:

영어를 할 수 있어요? (yeongeoreul hal su isseoyo?)

You can also use these phrases for asking the question in Korean:

영어를 하세요? (yeongeoreul haseyo?)

영어를 할 줄 아세요? (yeongeoreul hal jul aseyo?)

영어를 할 줄 알아요? (yeongeoreul hal jul arayo?)

How to say “I don’t speak English” in Korean?

Here are a few more ways to express in the Korean language that you cannot speak or understand English. Thus you can understand better if someone gives you an answer like this to your question.

영어를 할 수 없어요. (yeongeoreul hal su eopseoyo.)

영어를 할 줄 몰라요. (yeongeoreul hal jul mollayo.)

죄송하지만 영어를 잘 이해하지 못해요. (joesonghajiman yeongeoreul jal ihaehaji mothaeyo.)

Vocabulary related to English in Korean

Here are some Korean words related to English.

English person영국사람 (yeongguksaram)
England잉글랜드 (inggeullaendeu)
United Kingdom영국 (yeongguk)
English translation영어 번역 (yeongeo beonyeok)
English version영문판 (yeongmunpan)

Sentences related to English in Korean

Now that you know some Korean words related to English, here are some sample sentences in Korean too:

그것을 영어로 말해 주세요. (geugeoseul yeongeoro malhae juseyo.)

Please say that in English.

영어를 말해 주세요. (yeongeoreul malhae juseyo.)

Please speak in English.

영어를 잘 알아요? (yeongeoreul jal arayo?)

Do you know English well?

일을 할 때 보통 영어를 사용해요. (ireul hal ttae botong yeongeoreul sayonghaeyo.)

I usually use English when working.

저는 영국사람이에요. (jeoneun yeongguksaramieyo.)

I am English.

나는 영어를 조금 말 할 수 있어요. (naneun yeongeoreul jogeum mal hal su isseoyo.)

I can speak a little bit of English.

영어를 잘 몰라요. (yeongeoreul jal mollayo.)

I don’t speak English well.

죄송하지만, 영어를 못 해요. (joesonghajiman, yeongeoreul mot haeyo.)

I apologize, but I can’t speak English.

A Word of Caution About Romanization

Although you could learn the Korean words in this article by reading their romanized versions, in everyday Korean life, you will need to know how to read them in Hangeul. Hangeul is the Korean alphabet and is very easy to learn. You learn it in just 90 minutes.

Once you know Hangeul, you will start to recognize the different shops and stores on the street, and Korea will seem more like your home than before. If you are serious about learning Korean, then start by learning Hangeul. In fact, why not learn Korean today?


Have you already been able to use a sentence like this with Korean people, perhaps your Korean friends?

Besides English, you can even use these sentences for Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, German, and many more! Which other languages have you found this knowledge useful for? Let us know in the comments!

We hope that you continue to practice and keep it your main goal to be able to converse as much as possible in the Korean language, however! In fact, to support our lesson today, how about you go on and catch some more Korean phrases into your Korean knowledge?

The post How to say “English” in Korean – Useful words and sentences appeared first on 90 Day Korean®.

Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series:

Korean lessons   *  Korean Phrases    *    Korean Vocabulary *   Learn Korean   *    Learn Korean alphabet   *   Learn Korean fast   *  Motivation    *   Study Korean  


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Daejeonsa Temple – 대전사 (Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

Daejeonsa Temple in Juwangsan National Park in Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Temple History

Daejeonsa Temple is located in the southwest corner of Juwangsan National Park in Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do. Juwangsan National Park is the smallest of the national parks in Korea, but it certainly doesn’t lack for beauty with its scenic valleys and rocky mountains. It’s believed that Daejeonsa Temple was first established in 672 A.D. by the famed monk Uisang-daesa (625-702 A.D.). The temple was completely destroyed in 1592 during the Imjin War (1592-1598) by the invading Japanese. The temple was later rebuilt in 1672. Unfortunately, not much is known about the temple’s history from when it was first established in 672 A.D. to when it was later destroyed in 1592. There seems to be a large gap in our knowledge about the temple’s history over a nine hundred year period.

As for the name of the temple, Daejeonsa Temple, it was named after the son of King Ju. According to legend, King Ju was a Tang (618–690, 705–907 A.D.) rebel that retreated to this part of Korea during Unified Silla (668-935 A.D.). It was here that he would hide and eventually die. As for his son, he was Daejeondogun from which the temple gets its name.

Daejeonsa Temple is home to one Korean Treasure, the Bogwang-jeon Hall. This is Korean Treasure #1570. Daejeonsa Temple has two affiliated hermitages nearby. They are Baeknyeongam Hermitage and Juwangam Hermitage.

As for admission, it costs 2,800 won for adults, 1,000 won for teenagers, and 600 won for kids.

Temple Layout

After paying your entry fee to Juwangsan National Park, you’ll make your way up to Daejeonsa Temple next to the meandering Jubang-cheon River. Along the way, you’ll pass by a collection of stands selling food and souvenirs. You’ll finally arrive at Daejeonsa Temple, where you’ll have to pay an additional entry fee of 2,800 won to enter the temple grounds.

Straight ahead of you, and framed by the rounded peaks off in the distance, is the Bogwang-jeon Hall. This diminutive main hall is a Korean Treasure. It was first built in 1672 after the original was destroyed in 1592 during the Imjin War. The exterior walls are adorned in simple dancheong colours. Stepping inside the Bogwang-jeon Hall, you’ll find a triad of statues centred by Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). Out in front of the Bogwang-jeon Hall is a stout three-story pagoda that has been reconstructed. Around its base are guardians.

To the left of the Bogwang-jeon Hall is the Gwaneum-jeon Hall. The exterior walls to this temple shrine hall are painted with various incarnations of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Stepping inside the Gwaneum-jeon Hall, and on the main altar, you’ll find a multi-armed and headed image of Gwanseeum-bosal. This statue is joined to the left by an image of Yongwang (The Dragon King). Interestingly, there are two circles with tiny, orange coloured glass lotuses. They are positioned on either side of the main altar image of Gwanseeum-bosal.

And to the right of the Bogwang-jeon Hall are two additional shrine halls. The first, and the smaller of the two, is the uniquely shaped Sanshin-gak Hall. Instead of having Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) mural facing directly out towards the entrance, the painting is to the far left in an otherwise unoccupied shaman shrine hall. As for the painting itself, it’s newer in composition with a snickering tiger to the left of Sanshin.

The final shrine hall that visitors can explore at Daejeonsa Temple is the Myeongbu-jeon Hall, which is to the right of the Sanshin-gak Hall. Inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall, and resting on the main altar, is a statue of a golden capped Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). This statue is then backed by an older mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal, as well. Additionally, Jijang-bosal is joined by the Siwang (The Ten Kings of the Underworld) inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.

How To Get There

From the Juwangsan Bus Terminal, you simply need to walk to Daejeonsa Temple. It’s about 800 metres to the temple from the bus terminal.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

There is just so much natural beauty that surrounds Daejeonsa Temple inside the Juwangsan National Park. In fact, it’s one of the most beautifully located temples in all of Korea. In addition to all this natural beauty, you can also enjoy the historic Bogwang-jeon Hall at Daejeonsa Temple. Other highlights at the temple include the multi-armed and headed image of Gwanseeum-bosal inside the Gwaneum-jeon Hall and the snickering tiger in the Mountain Spirit mural inside the Sanshin-gak Hall.

Along the Jubang-cheon River.
Nearing the temple grounds.
The Bogwang-jeon Hall in the centre with the Gwaneum-jeon Hall to the left and the Sanshin-gak Hall to the right.
The Sanshin-gak Hall.
A look at the Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) mural inside the Sanshin-gak Hall.
The main altar inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.
The Gwaneum-jeon Hall at Daejeonsa Temple.
One of the Gwanseeum-bosal murals that adorns the exterior walls of the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.
Inside the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.
And Yongwang (The Dragon King) who joins Gwanseeum-bosal on the main altar inside the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

Putin is now a Fascist, Imperialist War Criminal. He Himself – his Continuance in Office – is now the Biggest Issue in Any Ukraine Peace Negotiations

Tanks Belarus PutinThe death squad war crimes in Ukraine now mean that Putin himself is the biggest obstacle to a peace deal. He won’t agree to leave power, but with him still office, neither Ukraine nor the West is likely to accept the full re-normalization of Russia, by which I mean the rollback of the war sanctions and the re-entry of Russia into normal diplomatic intercourse with West.

This post is based on an op-ed I wrote at

Just as the Kaiser had to abdicate in Germany after WWI, and the Japanese military junta had to step aside after WWII, so will there be enormous pressure to insist on regime change as part of a sanctions relief deal. Biden already blurted this out last week, and now, after the revelation of the war crimes, it is almost impossible to imagine the West interacting with Russia normally again while Putin is still in charge.

Putin is a fascist, imperialist war criminal. He has built an near-fascist regime at home. He has openly invaded another country in an enormous land war not seen in Europe in decades. He has tolerated death squads systematically killing hundreds of civilians to terrorize his opponents.

Because of this, no Western leader will likely ever meet Putin again, and the sanctions will stay on Russia even if it ends the war. Russia under Putin is just too dangerous.

Here is that essay for 1945:

Russian Re-Normalization with Putin in Charge is Likely Impossible after His War Crimes – At some point, the Ukraine war will end. Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said the war will last years. Even if true, the war will conclude eventually. A part of the settlement will be the ‘re-normalization’ of Russia. This means rolling back the sanctions and permitting Russia to resume normal economic and diplomatic interaction with the sanctioning states.

After World War I, France famously inhibited Germany’s resumption of normal intercourse with the world via the Versailles Treaty. This is now widely seen as an enormous error. Versailles crippled the Weimar Republic and opened space for both rightist revanchist and Marxist revolutionary movements. In time, fascism destroyed a weak interwar German democracy.

A core challenge of any final settlement with Russia be the terms of its re-normalization. Russia is a large, nuclear-armed, consequential power with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Even if the war reduces it to middle power status, it will retain enormous potential to cause trouble. We are already seeing the difficulties of fully de-linking from the Russian economy. It owes debt payments to western institutions who do not wish to lose those monies; it supplies natural gas to Europe which has struggled to find alternatives; it, and Ukraine, are food exporters, and those prices look set to rise.

Please read the rest here.

Master Politeness Levels with Billy Go | #1: Course Introduction

Ever since finishing my "Beginner Korean Course" last year, I've wanted to make another free course that was for Intermediate and Advanced level learners to help enhance their speaking skills. And in my opinion, the most difficult and time-consuming piece of the Korean language, that especially effects those learners are Politeness Levels. Politeness Levels can take years to master, as they do for native Korean speakers, and are a deep topic that I haven't seen covered in detail anywhere else.

So today is the first episode of this series. The entire series will have 24 episodes, and I'll post one new episode each week as my schedule permits. However, if you're one of the Members of my YouTube channel you can actually watch several more episodes in advance right now, with plans to have the whole series visible to Members before the end of May. This is just an extra benefit to those who are supporting me, but the entire series will be completely free once it's uploaded to my channel.

So check it out here~! The first episode is now on my YouTube channel, and the next one will be up next week.

The post Master Politeness Levels with Billy Go | #1: Course Introduction appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

The Post-War Re-Normalization of Russia Increasingly Turns on Whether Putin Stays in Power, especially after the War Crimes

Putin RussiaAt some point the war in Ukraine will end, and Russia will seek to re-enter diplomacy and the world economy, and shed the heavy sanctions and isolation on it. This will be a major part of whatever the final peace deal emerges. (This is a local re-post of an essay I wrote at

The model of what not to do is, of course, Weimar Germany. France particularly fought the re-normalization of post-WWI Germany. This fired a revanchist far right which eventually destroyed the Weimar Republic. Any final status deal on Ukraine shouldn’t punish Russia so harshly that we drive its domestic politics toward even more radical right voices than Putin’s.

Conversely, this was pretty clearly a war of choice. Russia has to be punished in someway. Also, Russia is now pretty clearly a threat to its neighbors. There is a case against re-normalization – to leave sanctions and diplomatic isolation on belligerent Russia after the war to keep it weak.

This will be a tough balance to find, especially since Putin will likely stay in power which will insure a continuing informal isolation: western leaders will probably never meet Putin personally again; western companies will likely never return with Putin in power.

My own thoughts on the terms a peace deal are here. In short, I think Ukraine should get an indemnity, EU membership, a military, and territorial integrity, while Russia gets Ukraine out of NATO, sanctions rollback, diplomatic re-normalization, Crimea, and Putin in power.

Here is that essay at 1945:

It is now apparent that Russia will not conquer Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has significantly over-reached. His defense ministry recently scaled back its war aims. The army now claims to only seek to gain the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine. If Putin follows through on this change, it should take pressure off the Ukrainian capital and the Black Sea coastline.

The War is Stalemated, Perhaps even Turning against Russia

There is obviously much cause for skepticism. Putin has limited his goals because Russia is stalemated in the war, perhaps even on the cusp of losing. It is highly unlikely that Putin has changed his beliefs that Ukraine is a fake country that should be controlled by Russia.

Nevertheless, this partial de-escalation is the first step toward resolving the conflict. Now that Putin’s offensive has culminated, he is unlikely to make any major new gains.

Please read the rest here.

Anguksa Temple – 안국사 (Pyongsong, Pyongannam-to, North Korea)

The Two-Story Taeungbo-jeon [Daeungbo-jeon Hall] at Anguksa Temple in Pyongsong, Pyongannam-to, North Korea. The picture is from the Joseon Gojeok Dobo from 1932.

Temple History

Anguksa Temple is located in Pyongsong, Pyongannam-to, North Korea. It’s located on the slopes of Mt. Pongrinsan (217 m). And for the rest of this article, it should be noted, that the spelling of North Korean places will use the North Korean style of spelling. Anguksa Temple was first established in 503 A.D. Anguksa Temple is one of the oldest cultural sites still remaining in North Korea. Of particular importance is the two-story Taeungbo-jeon Hall [Daeungbo-jeon Hall] that was built during the mid-Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). According to the writing on the eaves inside the Taeungbo-jeon Hall, the main hall was rebuilt in 1419. It was later rebuilt again in 1594, 1654, and 1785. In fact, there have been roof tiles that have been discovered in and around the temple grounds from the Goguryeo Dynasty (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.). Besides being called Anguksa Temple, the temple was formerly called Bongrinsa Temple, as well.

Additionally, there are several foundation stones in front of the Taepyong-ru Pavilion [Taepyeong-ru Pavilion]. This hints at the fact that the temple was formerly much larger than its current size. Anguksa Temple is North Korean National Treasure #34. And besides Anguksa Temple being a North Korean National Treasure, the temple is home to a ginkgo tree that was first planted in 1400, making it North Korean Living Monument #31.

Temple Layout

Presently, Anguksa Temple is home to a handful of shrine halls and buildings. The temple has a linear layout. Passing through an entry gate, and the outer courtyard, you’ll find the nine-story pagoda that dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). The pagoda has a wide square base with nine slender body stones atop it. The pagoda stands at 6.23 metres. It’s also in this area that you’ll find the ginkgo tree that dates back to the year 1400. Additionally, it’s also in this area that you’ll find the foundation stones to former shrine halls that once stood at Anguksa Temple.

To gain entry to the main temple courtyard at Anguksa Temple, you’ll need to pass through the Taepyong-ru Pavilion [Taepyeong-ru], which means “Perfect Peace Pavilion” in English. Stepping inside this entry gate, you’ll notice elevated platforms for people to sit or meditate on. While the exterior walls are adorned simply, the interior is filled with the wonderful dancheong colours. And the signboard to the entry pavilion is said to have been painted by King Sunjo of Joseon (r. 1800-1834).

Directly behind the Taepyong-ru Pavilion [Taepyeong-ru Pavilion] is the temple’s Taeungbo-jeon Hall [Daeungbo-jeon Hall]. Of all the temple shrine halls at Anguksa Temple, it’s this two-story structure that’s the most impressive. The two-story structure is unlike most other structures of this time. It has beautiful, intricate eaves on the outside with simplistic dancheong colours. Stepping inside the cavernous hall, you’ll find a long main altar with three images resting under large, red canopies. The central image is that of Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). The ceiling of the structure is painted with beautiful floral patterns, and the bracketing protruding outwards from the interior walls are both intricate and detailed. The Taeungbo-jeon Hall [Daeungbo-jeon Hall] stands seventeen metres in height and thirteen metres in width.

To the right of the Taeungbo-jeon Hall stands the monks dorms, which is known as the Yosachae. And to the left of the Taeungbo-jeon Hall is the Jupildae which is a library.

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 Anguksa Temple in Pyongsong, Pyongannam-to, North Korea.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Again, for being located in the off-limits North Korea, and if you can actually get to Anguksa Temple, it rates as highly as it does. In addition to the temple’s dangerous location, the two-story Taeungbo-jeon Hall [Daeungbo-jeon Hall] is definitely the main highlight with its beautiful and intricate eaves both inside and out. The main altar statues, and the beautiful dancheong colours. Two other things of interest is the nine-story Goryeo-era pagoda and the Taepyong-ru Pavilion [Taepyeong-ru]. Hopefully one day soon, we’ll be able to visit this amazing temple.

Historical Pictures of Anguksa Temple

The two-story Taeungbo-jeon Hall [Daeungbo-jeon Hall] from the Buddhist Art of North Korea: Documentation in Gelatin Dry Plates.
The beautiful eaves of the Taeungbo-jeon Hall [Daeungbo-jeon Hall] from the Joseon Gojeok Dobo from 1932.
The beautiful latticework adorning the Taeungbo-jeon Hall [Daeungbo-jeon Hall] from the Joseon Gojeok Dobo from 1932.
A look around the interior of the Taeungbo-jeon Hall [Daeungbo-jeon Hall] from the Joseon Gojeok Dobo from 1932.
And a look towards the main altar inside the Taeungbo-jeon Hall [Daeungbo-jeon Hall] from the Joseon Gojeok Dobo from 1932.

Anguksa Temple Now

The view of the temple grounds. (Picture courtesy of Naver).
The Taepyong-ru Pavilion [Taepyeong-ru Pavilion]. (Picture courtesy of Naver).
The signboard above the entry to the Taepyong-ru Pavilion [Taepyeong-ru Pavilion], which was purportedly written by King Sunjo of Joseon (r. 1800-1834). (Picture courtesy of Naver).
A look inside the Taepyong-ru Pavilion [Taepyeong-ru Pavilion]. (Picture courtesy of Naver).
A look up and around the Taepyong-ru Pavilion [Taepyeong-ru Pavilion]. (Picture courtesy of Naver).
The view from the Taepyong-ru Pavilion [Taepyeong-ru] towards the Taeungbo-jeon Hall [Daeungbo-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of Naver).
A beautiful dragon carving up in the eaves of the Taeungbo-jeon Hall [Daeungbo-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).
And another ornamental carving up in the eaves of the Taeungbo-jeon Hall [Daeungbo-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).
A look inside the Taeungbo-jeon Hall [Daeungbo-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of Naver).
The beautiful floral patterns that adorn the ceiling of the Taeungbo-jeon Hall’s interior. (Picture courtesy of Naver).
The main altar inside the Taeungbo-jeon Hall with Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy) in the centre. (Picture courtesy of Naver).
A Gongmyeongjo (Jivamjivaka) inside the Taeungbo-jeon Hall [Daeungbo-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of Flickr).
A Taenghwa inside the Taeungbo-jeon Hall [Daeungbo-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of Naver).
The Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural) inside the Taeungbo-jeon Hall [Daeungbo-jeon Hall]. (Picture courtesy of Naver).
The monks’ dorms. (Picture courtesy of Naver).


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