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Baengnyulsa Temple – 백률사 (Gyeongju)

The Bronze Bell at Baengnyulsa Temple in Gyeongju.

Temple History

Baengnyulsa Temple is located just to the north of Bunhwangsa Temple in Gyeongju on Mt. Sogeumgangsan (176.7 m). Supposedly, and according to the Samguk Yusa, the temple was built to commemorate the martyrdom of Ichadon (501 – 527 A.D.). Originally, the temple was called Jachusa Temple. In English, “ja” means “pine nuts,” while “chu” means “chestnut.” Later Jachusa Temple changed its name to Baengnyulsa Temple. It was common at this time in Korean history, during the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.), that if a temple had the same sound and/or meaning, the name of the temple could change. With this in mind, “baek” means “pine nut” in English, while “yul” means “chestnut.” So even though the name of the temple changed, it retained the same meaning as the previous temple name of Jachusa Temple. So Baengnyulsa Temple means “Pine Nut Chestnut Temple” in English.

The temple was later destroyed by fire during the Imjin War (1592-1598). The temple was rebuilt during the reign of King Seonjo of Joseon (r. 1567 – 1608). And the present Daeung-jeon Hall was later rebuilt during the 1800’s. It was also around this time that the temple was renamed Baengnyulsa Temple.

The Daeung-jeon Hall, which is a Cultural Properties Material, once contained a bronze statue of Yaksayeorae-bul (The Medicine Buddha). This statue, which is National Treasure #28, was first created in the mid-8th century. It stands an amazing 1.77 metres in height. The statue has a relatively small body when compared to its face. It has a round face with an elegant expression. It has long eyelashes, almond-shaped eyes, a sharp nose, and a small mouth. The robe of the statue is draped tightly around the shoulders and body of Yaksayeorae-bul. The belly of the Buddha protrudes outwards, and his chest leans backwards. Unfortunately, the statue’s two hands have been cut off and are now missing. This statue is considered one of the three greatest gilt-bronze Buddhist statues made during Later Silla (668-935 A.D.). This alongside the Birojana-bul of Bulguksa Temple (N.T. #26) and the Seated Amita-bul of Bulguksa Temple (N.T. #27) comprise the list of three. All three were made around the same time. However, while the Gilt-bronze Standing Bhaisajyaguru Buddha of Baengnyulsa Temple was originally housed at the temple, since 1930, it’s been housed at the Gyeongju National Museum.

The painting of Ichadon (501-527 A.D.) inside the Daeung-jeon Hall at Heungnyunsa Temple in central Gyeongju.

The Ichadon Myth

Historically, and drawing on the vital importance of the temple’s significance to the growth of Buddhism in the Silla Kingdom, is the story that centres on the death and martyrdom of the monk Ichadon (501-527 A.D.). In both the Samguk Sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms) and the Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms), Ichadon is referred to as the nephew of King Beopheung (r. 514 – 540 A.D.). “Ichadon,” according to David Mason’s website, is an honorific title bestowed upon the monk who was a young Silla Kingdom aristocrat.

During the early reign of King Beopheung, the king wanted to establish Buddhism as a state religion in the Silla Kingdom. In the Samguk Yusa it has King Beopheung stating, as he contemplatively overlooked his land, “The Han Emperor Ming-ti received a revelation from Buddha in a dream before the flow of Buddhist teachings to the East. I wish to build a sanctuary in which all my people can wash away their sins and receive eternal blessings.” King Beopheung’s alluding to Emperor Ming of Han (r. 57 – 75 A.D.) is a reference to the spread of Buddhism in China during the Han King’s reign.

More pragmatically, the reason that King Beopheung wanted to established Buddhism as a state religion was to help strengthen the central role of Silla royal power. This had already been done in the neighbouring Baekje (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.) and Goguryeo Kingdoms (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.), when the Goguryeo Kingdom officially recognized Buddhism as the state religion in 372 A.D., which was subsequently followed by the adoption of Buddhism as a state religion in the Baekje Kingdom in 384 A.D. However, Silla state officials opposed this idea. In fact, Buddhism was declared illegal up until 527 A.D., when the actions of Ichadon changed the trajectory and acceptance of Buddhism in the Silla Kingdom.

According to the Samguk Yusa, once more, in 527 A.D., Ichadon and King Beopheung came up with a solution to help circumvent the stubbornness of the royal court so as to allow the Silla Kingdom to finally establish Buddhism as a state religion. When talking about the state courtiers, King Beopheung made this comment, “Because of my lack of virtue heaven and earth show no harmonious signs and my people enjoy no real happiness. I am therefore minded to turn to Buddhism for the peace of my heart, but there is no one who can assist me.”

However, in the royal court there was a minor official with the rank of Sa-in. His family name was Bak. His honourific title was Ichadon, and his other name was Yeomchok, which is a play on words for porcupine. And while his father was undistinguished, his great grandfather had been a Galmun-wang (which is the title given to a father of the reigning king).

As described in the Samguk Yusa, “Yeomchok’s steadfast loyal heart was like a straight bamboo or an evergreen pine tree and his morals were as clear as a watermirror.” Because of these attributes, it was probable that Ichadon would be promoted to a high office in the king’s court.

The martyrdom of Ichadon. This painting appears at Heungnyunsa Temple in central Gyeongju.

Looking at King Beopheung, Ichadon could read the king’s mind. In doing this, Ichadon said, “The sages of old would lend their ears even to men of low degree if they gave wise counsel. Since I know Your Majesty’s mind, I will dare to say a few words. As the song of birds herald the approach of spring, so the gush of blood from my neck will foreshadow the full bloom of Buddhism, for in my spouting blood the people will see a miracle.”

King Beopheung answered, “‘For mercy’s sake,” cried the King, ‘that is not a thing for you to do.’

“‘A loyal subject will die for his country,’ Yeomchok replied, ‘and a righteous man will die for his king. If you cut off my head to the stubborn courtiers, who will never believe in Buddha unless they are shown a miracle, the myriad of people prostrate themselves before your throne and will worship Buddha.'”

The king answered, “Though I desire to save my people, how can I kill an innocent man like you? You would do better to avoid this fate.”

Ichadon answered, “One man’s earthly life is dear…but the eternal lives of many people are dearer. If I vanish with the morning dew today, the life-giving Buddhist faith will rise with the blazing sun tomorrow. This will bring peace to your heart.”

Finally, the king relented, “If you have set your heart on advancing the spread of Buddhism by the sacrifice of your life, you are a great man.”

After this conversation with Ichadon, the king called all of his courtiers into a royal conference where he threatened the lives of his courtiers because they wouldn’t allow him to adopt Buddhism as a state religion. And the focus of King Beopheung’s ire, as was pre-planned, was Ichadon.

King Beopheung said to Ichadon, “You too hindered my orders and miscarried my messages. Your crime is unpardonable and you shall die. You shave your head and wear a long robe, you utter strange words – ‘Buddha is a mystery, Buddhism gives life.’ Now let your Buddha perform a miracle and save your life.” It would seem that Ichadon had actually already become a monk at this point.

On the day of Ichadon’s execution, and as the executioner raised his sword, the king, courtiers and citizens that had gathered to witness the monk’s death all looked away. Looking up to heaven, Ichadon said, “I die happy for the sake of Buddha. If Buddha is worth believing in, let there be a wonder after my death.”

The memorial to the martyrdom of Ichadon at Heungnyunsa Temple in central Gyeongju.

After his execution, and according to the Samguk Yusa, “Down came the sword on the monk’s neck, and up flew his head spouting blood as white as milk [white being the most sacred colour in Korean culture, according to David Mason]. Suddenly dark clouds covered the sky, rain poured down and there was thunder and lightning…tigers ran and dragons flew, ghosts mourned and goblins wept. It seemed that heaven and earth had turned upside down. From afar came the sound of a bell as the Bodhisattva of Compassion [Gwanseeum-bosal] welcomed the martyr’s fragrant soul into the Lotus Paradise.”

King Beopheung wept after Ichadon’s death, and Ichadon’s childhood friends held onto the monk’s casket and wept, as well. Afterwards, onlookers praised Ichadon’s sacrifice for the support of King Beopheung’s Buddhist faith.

Ichadon’s childhood friends would then bury the monk’s headless body on the western peak of Sogeumgangsan. This mountain was named after the Diamond Sutra in Buddhism. Also, Mt. Sogeumgangsan was the northern sacred peak of the city of Gyeongju. And according to Pungsu-jiri (geomancy), the north direction is the direction for death. Furthermore, legend has it that Ichadon’s body was buried in the same place where his head had flown and fallen on Mt. Sogeumgangsan.

Some of this information comes courtesy of my friend David Mason’s amazing website. Please check it out here!

Temple Statue Myth

According to the Samguk Yusa, “On the southern side of this mountain [present day Mt. Sogeumgangsan] is a temple called Baengnyulsa Temple, and seated in its Golden Hall [main hall] is a Buddha image which has worked many wonders.”

The history of the statue is unknown, and it shouldn’t be confused with the bronze statue of Yaksayeorae-bul that’s National Treasure #28. According to this temple myth, this statue was made by heavenly sculptors from China. Furthermore, the statue is believed to have ascended to Doricheon (one of the thirty-three Buddhist heavens), where it re-entered the Golden Hall at Baengnyulsa Temple after stamping its feet on the stone steps at the entrance to this temple shrine hall. This stamping left footprints, which at the time of the Samguk Yusa’s writing, could still be seen.

According to another myth also in the Samguk Yusa about this Buddhist statue, it concerns the return of Buryerang, a famous Hwarang (Flower Youth). The statue saved Buryerang from pagans to the north, who were the enemies of the Silla Kingdom. Buryerang was King Hyoso of Silla’s favourite Hwarang. And because he was a favourite of the king’s, King Hyoso of Silla (r. 692-702 A.D.) placed a thousand youths under the command of Buryerang.

So in March, 693 A.D., Buryerang led a group of his followers to Gangwon-do Province for pleasure. However, when they arrived at Wonsan (in present day North Korea), they were attacked by a band of armed thieves and Buryerang was taken captive. Buryerang’s followers fled for their lives, but An Sang, a lieutenant in Buryerang’s forces, stayed with his master in their enemy camp.

Hearing this, King Hyoso of Silla was at a loss. He said to his courtiers, “Since my royal father handed down the sacred flute to me, I have kept it safe in the High Heaven Vault together with a hyeon-geum (a harp with six silk strings), which protects us from all evils with their holy might. Why has my favourite Hwarang fallen into the hands of thieves?”

Suddenly, a large collection of clouds gathered around the High Heaven Vault. Troubled by these clouds appearance, the king had his servants examine the interior of the vault. It was only then that they discovered that the two treasures, the harp and the flute, were missing. Angered by the loss of these instruments and Buryerang, King Hyoso of Silla had the five vault-keepers imprisoned.

The next month, in April, King Hyoso of Silla offered a reward to anyone that could recover the musical instruments. In addition to this reward, the king would also allow the individual to have a one year exemption from paying taxes.

The Daeung-jeon Hall at Baengnyulsa Temple in 1932.

As the king was mourning his losses, the parents of King Buryerang prayed in the Golden Hall at Baengnyulsa Temple every night until May 15th. These prayers centred on the safe return of their son. It was on the night of May 15th that they found a harp and flute on the table of the incense burner and Buryerang, as well. Along with An Sang, they were standing behind the Buddha image inside the Golden Hall at Baengnyulsa Temple. Surprised, and still in shock, they asked their son how he had returned to them in Gyeongju.

Buryerang said, “My honoured parents, when the enemy carried me away, they made me a cowherd of Daedo-kura, their chief, and I was set to caring for his cattle in the field of Daejo-rani. There was a kind monk holding a harp in one hand and a flute in the other that appeared and said, ‘My good lad, don’t you feel homesick?’

“‘Partly overawed by this noble face and partly overcome with grateful emotion at his gentle words, I fell to my knees and answered, ‘Honourable monk, carry me back to Gyeongju. I long to see my king and my parents in my native land, a thousand li far away to the south.’

“‘Come with me, my lad,’ he interposed, and took me by the hand and led me to the seacoast, where I met An Sang, once again. Here the monk broke the flute in two and handed each of us a piece, ‘Ride on them!’ he said, while he rode the harp. We flew high above the clouds and in a twinkling we had landed here.”

Eventually, all of this was reported to King Hyoso of Silla. The king praised Buryerang’s valour and good fortune. As a result, King Hyoso rewarded the flying monk of Baengnyulsa Temple with two sets of gold dishes each weighing fifty yang, five fine robes, 3,000 rolls (one roll was forty yards) of gray hempen cloth, and 1,000 gyeong of farmland to “reward the grace of the Buddha.”

According to the Samguk Yusa, “There are endless tales of the wonders wrought by the Buddha of Baengnyulsa Temple, all of them indescribably interesting.”

Lastly, this magical statue at Baengnyulsa disappeared during the Imjin War (1592-1598) never to be found again.

Temple Layout

You can approach Baengnyulsa Temple in one of two ways. The first is past the Gulbulsa-ji Temple Site and up a three hundred metre long trail that bends in the midst of a bamboo forest. The other way is up a steep set of side-winding stairs to the right of the temple complex. If you take the Gulbulsa-ji Temple Site trail, you’ll approach Baengnyulsa Temple from the rear. And if you take the other steep side-winding set of stairs, you’ll approach from the front of the temple, but you’ll miss out on visiting the amazing Gulbulsa-ji Temple Site.

For the sake of this post, we’ll approach from the front of the temple grounds. You’ll see Baengnyulsa Temple appear over the folds and forest of Mt. Sogeumgangsan. Now standing in the lower courtyard at Baengnyulsa Temple, you’ll see the Jong-ru (Bell Pavilion) to your left. You’ll also notice the monks dorms to the rear of the bell pavilion, as well. Have a close look at the Brahma Bell inside the Jong-ru. If you look close enough, you’ll notice that it depicts the martyrdom of Ichadon.

To the right of the Jong-ru, and up a small set of stairs, is the Daeung-jeon Hall at Baengnyulsa Temple in the upper courtyard. The exterior walls to the main hall are all but unadorned except for the dancheong colours. As for the interior, and resting on the main altar, you’ll see a triad centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). This central image is joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). All three appear under a large datjib (canopy). To the right, and rather interestingly, is a compact shrine with statue and paintings dedicated to the Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha). And to the left of the main altar is a fierce Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural), as well as a beautiful painting dedicated to Ichadon.

Behind the Daeung-jeon Hall, and up a long set of stairs, is the Samseong-gak Hall. The exterior walls are adorned with Sinseon (Taoist Immortals), as well as an intense mountainside tiger. As for the interior, there are three rather plain shaman murals dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Chilseong (The Seven Stars), and Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

How To Get There

The easiest way to get to Baengnyulsa Temple is by taxi from the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal. The ride takes about fifteen minutes, and it’ll cost you around 5,000 won. The cheaper way to get to Baengnyulsa Temple, on the other hand, is to take city Bus #70 from out in front of the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal. The bus ride will take about forty minute, and it’ll let you off in the temple parking lot. From the temple parking lot, you’ll need to walk an additional five hundred metres up a steep path, and past Gulbulsa-ji Temple Site, to get to Baengnyulsa Temple.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Baengnyulsa Temple has one of the most important pasts that any Korean Buddhist temple can possess. It has two great myths, one of which details the impetus for the spread of Buddhism throughout the Silla Kingdom. Adding to the martyrdom of Ichadon, as well as one of the more fantastical myths about a statue at a Korean temple, is the beautiful Daeung-jeon Hall with all of its artwork. Also, Baengnyulsa Temple is scenically located on Mt. Sogeumgangsan with amazing vistas of Gyeongju down below. While not all that well known, Baengnyulsa Temple makes for quite the adventure into Korea’s past.

The pathway that leads up to the temple grounds at Baengnyulsa Temple.
The Daeung-jeon Hall at Baengnyulsa Temple.
The main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall with Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) in the centre.
A mural dedicated to Ichadon inside the Daeung-jeon Hall at Baengnyulsa Temple.
The stairs leading up to the Samseong-gak Hall.
The Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) mural housed inside the Samseong-gak Hall.
The Jong-ru (Bell Pavilion) to the left of the Daeung-jeon Hall.
An upclose of the metal relief on the bronze bell at Baengnyulsa Temple which depicts the martyrdom of Ichadon.

Using the Lunar Calendar | Korean FAQ

There are two calendars that you'll need to be aware of in Korea, the "normal" calendar (used in most countries) and the lunar calendar.

The lunar calendar is useful to be aware of, since many famous Korean holidays actually take place on this calendar and therefore move every year on the regular calendar.

I'll explain how this works, as well as the most popular holidays you should be aware of which follow the lunar calendar.

The post Using the Lunar Calendar | Korean FAQ appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

 Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean





How To Go To Naejangsan National Park: Fall Foliage Hotspot

This useful guide to exploring Naejangsan National Park will give you the best options for how to go to Naejangsan National Park – one of Korea’s fall foliage hotspots. It will also provide a brief overview of the sights, locations, attractions, and food available at Naejangsan and why you should definitely visit.

One of South Korea’s most beautiful and renowned spots for fall foliage, Naejangsan National Park is a treasure trove of stunning sights, uniquely Korean views, and peaceful spots to connect with nature and Korean culture.

Literally meaning ‘concealed inside’, Naejangsan (Naejang Mountain) certainly has a lot of hidden wonders to provide visitors with awe-inspiring photo oppurtunities, unforgettable moments, and the chance to find spiritual calm among natural beauty.

Lush forests line the sides of the numerous small mountains, whilst the long, pleasant valley has been carefully crafted over the years with long, winding maple-tree lined roads. Follow slowly flowing streams through the valley, explore traditional Korean Buddhist temples, and marvel at the natural wonders on display in this beautiful national park.

Find out for yourself why Naejangsan National Park has been voted as one of the top 10 most beautiful places in Korea in this guide to getting to Naejangsan National Park.

Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links and I may earn commission for purchases made after clicking one of these links. Affiliate Disclaimer

Go to Naejangsan National Park to see fall foliage

How To Go To Naejangsan National Park

There are three main ways to go to Naejangsan National Park in Jeollabuk-do. These are by car, train, or bus. If you don’t drive, taking the train is a faster option, but the bus will be cheaper and runs more frequently.

Cars parked at Naejangsan National Park entrance

Go To Naejangsan By Car

To get to Naejangsan National Park by car, head towards the park’s entrance at the Naejangsan Rest Stop (pictured above).

It should take under 3 hours to drive from Seoul to Naejangsan National Park, however, during peak fall foliage season it may take a lot longer.

It may be best to leave very early or stay overnight the previous night in nearby Jeongeup City to beat the traffic and get in before the crowds.

Naejangsan Rest Stop:
In Korean – 내장터미널휴게소

Time From Seoul:
2 hours 40 minutes
(longer during peak season)

KTX Trains in Korea

Go To Naejangsan By Train

To go to Naejangsan National Park by train, you should take the KTX (Korea’s high speed train) as below:

Seoul Station
Jeongeup Station

Once you get to Jeongeup Station, walk outside the main entrance and catch local bus 171, which goes directly to Naejangsan National Park entrance.

Alternatively, you can take a taxi from the bus terminal to the Naejangsan Rest Stop (내장터미널휴게소).

Jeongeup Train Station:
In Korean – 정읍역

Time From Seoul:
1 hour 35 minutes
(then bus 171 – 30 minutes)

39,000 KRW (Adult)
19,900 KRW (Child)

KoRail Booking Website

Please note: There are only a few KTX trains from Seoul to Jeongeup each day. Be sure to check travel times and book in advance.

Bus ticket sign in Korean and English

Go To Naejangsan By Bus

To go to Naejangsan National Park by bus, you should take the intercity bus as below:

Seoul Central City Bus Terminal
Jeongeup Station

Once you get to Jeongeup Bus Terminal, walk towards Jeongeup Station main entrance and catch local bus 171, which goes directly to Naejangsan National Park entrance.

Alternatively, you can take a taxi from the bus terminal to the Naejangsan Rest Stop (내장터미널휴게소).

Jeongeup Bus Terminal:
In Korean – 정읍시외버스공용터미널

Time From Seoul:
2 hours 55 minutes
(then bus 171 – 30 minutes)

Economy – 15,800 KRW
Luxury – 23,200 KRW

Korea Bus Website

If you’re visiting Naejangsan from other cities, check the times from the links above from your city to Jeongeup – this is the main transfer point to get to Naejangsan National Park.

When visiting from Daejeon, I take the Mugunghwa (slow train), ITX, or KTX to Jeongeup Station from Seo-Daejeon Station.

Fall foliage at Naejangsan National Park

When To Visit Naejangsan National Park For Fall Foliage

The best time to visit Naejangsan for fall foliage is the first week of November. The leaves start to change colour from mid-October, with the final leaves falling by mid-November.

As this is the best time to visit Naejangsan, you can find all the restaurants and food stalls operating, as well as some pop-up stalls selling souvenirs and snacks. This occurs at the main entrance, as well as outside Naejangsa Temple.

The first week of November will also be the busiest, expect large crowds and heavy traffic during this week. Plan your trip in advance and be sure to leave plenty of time for traffic jams. Avoid leaving the park around 4pm as this can be the busiest time.

Other great times to visit Naejangsan National Park are spring (mid-March to early June) and from the end of summer (early September), when the heat has dropped a bit, until the end of fall (mid-November).

For more information about when to go hiking in Korea’s very different seasons, check out this guide below:

When To Hike In Korea

For more information about where and when to see fall foliage in Korea, check out these articles:

Fall Foliage Spots In Korea
Korean Autumn Leaves Pictures
Autumn leaves at Naejangsa Temple at Naejangsan National Park

What To See At Naejangsan National Park In Autumn

Being in Naejangsan National Park, especially during autumn, is a treat in itself. Of course, there are some attractions that you won’t want to miss as you explore this relatively small, but tranquil national park.

Some of the top sights include:

Maple Tree Tunnel at Naejangsan National Park

Maple Tree Tunnel

A true spectacle bursting with colour during autumn in Korea, the Maple Tree Tunnel is the first breathtaking sight you’ll experience at Naejangsan National Park.

You’ll pass under the rich reds, shining golds, and vibrant greens on display from hundreds of maple trees on the path connecting the park’s entrance and Naejangsa Temple.

Visitors can either walk along this path after arriving, or can take a shuttle bus to the temple area and watch it from the window. Walking is definitely recommended.

Naejongsa Temple in autumn at Naejangsan National Park

Naejangsa Temple

Nestled in the heart of Naejangsan National Park, surrounded by some of the oldest, wisest ginkgo trees, is the superb Naejangsa Temple. Inhabiting the area since the 7th Century AD, this carefully reconstructed temple is beautiful inside and out.

Cradled among soaring peaks and leafy trees, the traditional Buddhist temple buildings feel like they’re a part of nature. Take a moment to sit by the small pond outside, close your eyes, and reconnect with your spiritual side.

Uhwajeong Pavilion at Naejangsan National Park

Uhwajeong Pavilion

Providing picture-postcard style views, the Uhwajeong Pavilion is a traditional Korean-style rest station with a bright blue roof. It is uniquely placed in the centre of a lake, surrounded by willowy trees that gently brush the lake’s edge.

The imperious mountains covered with fall foliage finish the scene and create an impressive backdrop. The pavilion is best viewed from the edge of the lake, or on the stone walkway that leads up to it. This spot provides truly iconic scenes that show Korea’s true beauty.

Naejangsan Cable Car at Naejangsan National Park

Yeonjabong Peak Observatory And Naejangsan Cable Car

For those who want to see the wooded valleys and rocky slopes without breaking a sweat on the way to the top, there’s the Naejangsan Cable Car, which will whisk you all the way up to the Yeonjabong Peak Observatory. From here you can enjoy some of the best views of the park, where the fall foliage paints a mosaic on the valley below.

Hiking route at Naejangsan

Hiking At Naejangsan National Park

For many visitors, seeing the sights of Naejangsan National Park is best enjoyed with a backpack and from the top of the small but challenging peaks that overlook the central valley.

The highest peak is Sinseonbong Peak, standing tall at 763m high. Most of the hiking courses are ‘intermediate’, which means they’re suitable for people in reasonable condition.

You’ll find plenty of Korean families hiking along the many well-maintained hiking routes in the park. The cable car will give people a good head-start should they not want to tackle the ascent at the start.

For some of my top hiking in Korea tips, check out this article:

Hiking In Korea Tips

Below is a map of the main hiking trails in Naejangsan National Park.

Hiking trail guide to Naejangsan National Park
Buddha statues and postcards in a cafe in Korea

Eating At Naejangsan National Park

Visiting a national park in Korea provides the opportunity to experience some of the best Korean traditional dishes, and Naejangsan has a great selection of delicious dishes to savor.

During autumn, there are dozens of extra food stalls offering up seasonal specialties, such as roasted chestnuts, as well as the usual street food snacks like hotteok 호떡 (sweet pancake), odeng 오뎅 (fish-cake in soup), and tteokbokki 떡볶이 (spicy fried rice cake).

Traditional restaurants line the entrance of the park where you can indulge in bibimbap 비빔밥 (mixed rice with veg), haemul pajeon 해물파전 (seafood pancake), and lots of other great dishes. There are other restaurants that sell popular Korean dishes, such as donkasu (pork cutlet), as well.

If you want a break in a cute cafe, check out the one near Naejangsa Temple (pictured above). You can sip a warming coffee whilst watching the leaves drop on the ground outside.

There are also lots of nice souvenirs for sale here, including these little Buddha dolls and postcards. Be sure to pick one up as a souvenir of your journey.

Nurin Slow Post in Korea

Before You Go Home

If you travelled to Naejangsan through Jeongeup Station, there’s another fun souvenir that you can send from the station to yourself (or someone else living in Korea).

Called Neurin 느린 (slow) Post, you can mail a postcard with views from Naejangsan on it. However, the postcard is delivered a year later – hence the name ‘slow post’.

You can write a message for the future, to remind yourself of the fun and experiences you had during a day out at Naejangsan National Park.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ About How To Go To Naejangsan National Park

Finally, here’s a few FAQs about how to go to Naejangsan National Park, in case the above information didn’t cover enough for you.

What’s the fastest way to get to Naejangsan National Park from Seoul

The fastest way to go to Naejangsan National Park from Seoul is by driving. Alternatively, take the KTX train from Seoul Station to Jeongeup Station and then take bus 171 to the park entrance. These should both take just over 3 hours.

When is the best time to visit Naejangsan National Park?

The best time to visit Naejangsan National Park is the first week of November. This is when the fall foliage is on full display and the most incredible scenes can be seen.

What can you see at Naejangsan National Park?

There are many sights to see at Naejangsan National Park, including the Maple Tree Path, Uhwajeong Pavilion, Naejangsa Temple, Naejangsan Cable Car and the Yeonjabong Peak Observatory. There are many pine and maple trees, as well as golden gingko trees.

How can you go to Naejangsan National Park from Jeongeup City

To get to Naejangsan National Park from Jeongeup City, take bus number 171 from outside Jeongeup Station. Alternatively, take a taxi from anywhere in the city to the Naejangsan Rest Stop (내장터미널휴게소).

Is there parking at Naejangsan National Park?

Yes, there are parking spaces at the Naejangsan Rest Stop (내장터미널휴게소), as well as in other car parks before the park’s entrance. You will need to park at the Naejangsan Rest Stop before entering the main park as cars are not allowed inside.

Are there autumn leaves at Naejangsan National Park?

Yes, Naejangsan National Park is one of the top places to see autumn leaves in Korea. The peak time for autumn leaves at Naejangsan National Park is early November.

Thank you sign

Share Your Thoughts

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

If you want some more recommendations for things to do during autumn, then you can also ask in the Korea Travel Advice group on Facebook.

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Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site – 정혜사지 (Gyeongju)

The Thirteen-Story Stone Pagoda at Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site in Northern Gyeongju.

Temple Site History

The Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site is located in a long valley in northern Gyeongju east of Mt. Jaoksan (569.9 m) and Mt. Dodeoksan (707.5 m). The Jeonghyesa Temple Site is home to one of the most unique pagodas that you’ll find in Korea. The Thirteen-Story Stone Pagoda at Jeonghyesa Temple Site is also National Treasure #40.

As for the history of the actual temple, there is very little known about it. With that being said, historians assume that Jeonghyesa Temple existed during the Later Silla Dynasty (668-935), but there’s no specific foundation year to this temple. It’s also known that Jeonghyesa Temple existed during the mid-Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). However, it’s unclear when the temple was destroyed.

According to the book “Donggyeongtongji,” in 780 A.D., there was a Silla government worker named Baek Woogyeong that worked around Mt. Jaoksan. He chose that spot because the land was great, so he built Yeongwol-dang and Manseam Hermitage. Even King Seondeok of Silla (r. 780 – 785 A.D.) visited these two places that Baek built. After making these buildings, he then made it a temple. And this temple was called Jeonghyesa Temple.

A fuller look at the solitary Thirteen-Story Stone Pagoda at Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site in northern Gyeongju.

Temple Site Layout

Today, all that exists at the Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site is the amazing Thirteen-story Stone Pagoda. This uniquely designed pagoda dates back to Later Silla (668-935 A.D.). And it has remained unchanged since the 9th century. The pagoda stands in an open field next to a farmer’s field with Mt. Jaoksan as a beautiful backdrop.

The The Thirteen-Story Stone Pagoda at Jeonghyesa Temple Site is the only one still in existence from the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.). The pagoda’s thirteen-story body stands on a wide single-story earthen platform. Although the pagoda has a wide base, it quickly tapers off on the second story, and remains slender to the top of the pagoda. You’ll also find ancient graffiti written in hanja in black ink of what looks to be Korean family names on each of the four sides of the sturdy base. The main body of the first story of the pagoda has a square stone pillar at each of the four corners. There are additional pillars built inside the four pillars to create an opening on each of the four sides around the base of the pagoda. The roof stones of each story are made from different stones than their supports. And each story roof stone is raised to create a lighter impression. Unfortunately, only the base of the pagoda’s finial still remains. This pagoda has a strong sense of stability created by the wide base and narrowing body. The entire pagoda is made from granite.

The History of Thirteen-Story Pagodas

As to the uniqueness of the thirteen stories, and why there’s only one historical thirteen-story pagoda found in Korea, it’s because this style originated in China. In fact, and according to the “Donggyeongtongji,” there is an indication that Chinese people were involved in the creation of the temple and perhaps the pagoda.

A computer generated model of what the twin pagodas at Mandeoksa-ji Temple Site looked like. (Picture courtesy of this website).

And according to the Samguk Yusa, the only other thirteen-story pagodas (other than at the Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site) were the twin wooden pagodas at Mangdeoksa Temple in central Gyeongju. According to the Samguk Yusa, Mangdeoksa Temple was built in April 685 A.D. In the Samguk Yusa, it describes how Sacheonwangsa Temple was constructed to protect Silla from Tang China (618–690, 705–907 A.D.). However, Silla made a false report to the Tang Emperor that Sacheonwangsa Temple had been built for him. The Tang Emperor then sent an envoy to Silla to verify this claim. In order to conceal the truth, Silla built a different and new temple across from Sacheonwangsa Temple. They then showed this new temple with its pair of twin thirteen-story pagodas to the envoy. This was meant to appease the envoy. However, the envoy wasn’t convinced that the temple had been built to honour the Tang Emperor. So the Silla rulers bribed the Tang envoy with one thousand pieces of gold. With this bribe, the envoy reported back to the Tang Emperor with the lie that the temple had in fact been built for him. And this temple was named Mangdeoksa Temple. This story gives credence to the idea that Chinese pagodas were meant to be over ten stories in height. And what better way to impress a Tang envoy that will be reporting back to his emperor than to build two thirteen-story wooden pagodas?

With all that being said, while the number of stories coincides with the number of stories found in structures in China, both the material and design of the The Thirteen-Story Stone Pagoda at Jeonghyesa Temple Site are uniquely Korean.

Uniqueness of Thirteen-Story Pagodas in Korea

As was already mentioned, there is only one historic thirteen-story pagoda still in existence in South Korea. However, before the Korean peninsula was divided by the Korean War (1950-1953), there were in fact two historic thirteen-story pagodas. The other thirteen-story pagoda now takes up residence inside the borders of North Korea. This other thirteen-story pagoda can be found on Mt. Myohyang (1909 m) in Hyangsan, Pyonganbuk-do at Pohyonsa Temple. The thirteen-story pagoda at Pohyonsa Temple dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), when it was built in 1042. Like the pagoda at Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site, the pagoda at Pohyonsa Temple is made from granite. Also, rather coincidentally, Pohyonsa Temple, which is home to the thirteen-story pagoda, is North Korean National Treasure #40 (remember, The Thirteen-Story Stone Pagoda at Jeonghyesa Temple Site is National Treasure #40).

A picture of the thirteen-story stone pagoda at Pohyonsa Temple in North Korea. (Picture courtesy of Wikipedia).

As for the design of the thirteen-story pagoda at Pohyonsa Temple, it’s completely different than the one found at the Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site. The Pohyonsa Temple pagoda is long and slender the entire length of the pagoda. It stands 10.03 metres. Also, the body of the pagoda, with its thirteen-story roof stones, gradually taper upwards from the bottom upwards. Also, there are one hundred and four bells that hang from each tip of the eaves of the pagoda’s roof stones.

There are, additionally, numerous examples of historic thirteen-story pagodas in China like the Iron Pagoda Yougou Temple that dates back to 1049 A.D.; the Songyue Pagoda of Songyue Monastery that dates back to 523 A.D.; the Liuhe Pagoda that was originally built in 970 A.D. and then rebuilt in 1165 A.D.; and the Feihong Pagoda inside Upper Guangsheng Temple that purportedly dates back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (202 B.C. – 220 A.D.). However, this pagoda has undergone numerous repairs and reconstruction, and the present pagoda dates back to 1527. All of these examples points to a relationship that helped inspire each nation’s religious art. And nowhere is this more plainly seen than in the pagodas of both nations.

The Iron Pagoda at Yougou Temple. (Picture Courtesy of Wikipedia).

How To Get There

From the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal, take Bus #203 for forty-six stops, which will last one hour and twenty minutes. Get off at the Oksan 1-ri stop and walk two hundred and fifty metres towards the Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site to your left.

Overall Rating: 6/10

While Jeonghyesa-ji Temple is now home to only one structure, the The Thirteen-Story Stone Pagoda at Jeonghyesa Temple Site, it is one of the most unusual structures that you’ll find at a Korean Buddhist temple or temple site. While definitely out of the way, it’s definitely worth a visit to try and find this Silla-era thirteen-story pagoda, which is a one-off.

As you first enter the former temple grounds at Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site.
A closer look at the amazing thirteen-story pagoda.
A closer look up at the thirteen stories of the Silla-era pagoda.
A different angle.
The eastern opening to the base of the pagoda.
These little flowers were blooming when I visited.
A beautiful look at the historic pagoda with Mt. Jaoksan in the background.
One last look up at this amazing pagoda.

Grading your Korean – Reaching the intermediate level | Billy Go

Since starting my new series for grading the Korean of my subscribers, I've graded a wide range of skill levels from beginner to advanced.

This is the first time I've gotten to grade someone who has been learning exclusively using my resources - specifically using my free "Beginner Korean Course" on my YouTube channel.

This series is still open, and you can find information about how to submit your own in the video description below.

The post Grading your Korean – Reaching the intermediate level | Billy Go appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

Wolji Pond – 월지 (Gyeongju)

Wolji Pond in Gyeongju.

History of Wolji Pond

Since the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Wolji Pond was known as Anapji Pond. The name Anapji is a combination of three Chinese characters: “An – 雁,” which means “goose” in English; “Ap – 鴨,” which means “duck,” and “Ji – 池,” which means “pond” in English. The reason for this name is that after Later Silla collapsed (668-935 A.D.), and Donggung Palace was abandoned, the pond was occupied by wild geese, ducks, and reeds.

During the excavation of Wolji Pond, a lock with the inscription “Donggunga” on it suggested that the pond’s original name was Wolji. The reason for this is that the name “Donggunga” was in reference to a government office in Silla that both managed the Donggung Palace and several other divisions; one of which, was called the Wolji-akjeon. Wolji, it’s believed, was the name of the pond, while “akjeon” refers to the division of government responsible for landscape management. So with the discovery of this lock with the inscription of “Donggunga” on it, it confirmed the belief that Donggung Palace was a palace built during the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.) and that the pond’s original Silla Dynasty name (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.) was Wolji. With this in mind, the Joseon name for the pond, Anapji Pond, was changed back to Wolji Pond in 2011.

Before the collapse of the Silla Dynasty, Gyeongju was its capital, and it was also the seat of the throne at Donggung Palace. Wolji Pond was built under the express orders of King Munmu (r. 661 – 681 A.D.) in 674 A.D. The pond is located on the northeast side of Donggung Palace in the central part of Gyeongju. In fact, in the Samguk Sagi, it’s written about Wolji Pond that in the 2nd lunar month, 674 (14th year of King Munmu’s reign), that they “Dug a pond and built a mountainous area on the premises of the palace to plant flowers and raise rare and precious birds and animals.”

Wolji Pond, in 1916, when it was still known as Anapji Pond.

While the pond remains nameless in the Samguk Sagi, there’s no mistaking that this is Wolji Pond, and that it was constructed in 674 A.D. This was subsequently followed by the construction of Donggung Palace in 679 A.D., both of which took place after the unification of the Korean peninsula. So after conquering Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C. 668 A.D.) and then the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.), the Silla Kingdom was unified under King Munmu in 668 A.D. Until then, King Munmu was constantly at war during the earlier part of his reign. But nearing the end of the conflict, King Munmu decided to build a beautiful water garden that would help exude the new power of the Silla Kingdom. This pond would be known as Wolji, which means “Moon Pond” in English.

As for the name of Anapji, it appears in the 16th century Joseon document entitled Augmented Survey of the Geography of Korea, or “동국여지승람” in Korean. It this document, it explains how King Munmu made the pond with Taoist aesthetical influences.

Wolji Pond (formerly Anapji Pond) in the 1950’s.

Wolji Pond was also the place where King Gyeongsun of Silla (r. 927 – 935 A.D.), the last monarch of the Silla Dynasty, hosted King Taejo of Goryeo (r. 918 A.D. – 943 A.D.) in 931 A.D. King Gyeongsun of Silla hosted King Taejo of Goryeo to ask for aid. King Taejo was the founding king of the newly established Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) that would usurp the nearly millennium old dynasty. King Gyeongsun of Silla was placed on the throne by the Hubaekje king Gyeong Hwon after the Hubaekje army invaded and sacked Gyeongju in 927 A.D. Already extremely weakened, King Gyeongsun reigned over a tiny portion of the former Silla territory. Eventually, and after his meeting with King Taejo of Goryeo, King Gyeongsun of Silla would eventually abdicate to King Taejo in 935 A.D.

Wolji Pond is Korean Historic Site #18. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. The last admission to Wolji Pond is thirty minutes before closing.

For adults, admission is 3,000 won, teenagers are 2,000 won, and children are 1,000 won.

Additionally, the Gyeongju National Museum has a wonderful permanent collection dedicated to Wolji Pond in their Wolji Gallery. The national museum is free, and during the weekdays it’s open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. And on weekends, it’s open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Excavation of Wolji Pond

As part of the Korean government’s widespread effort to renovate the historic sites of Gyeongju, one of these projects was to rebuild and resurrect Wolji Pond to its former glory. So starting in 1974, Wolji Pond (Anapji at the time) was dredged. Then from March 1975 to December 1986, the long-term excavation of Wolji Pond resulted in a large number of artifacts from the pond. In addition to these artifacts, it was also learned that the pond had once been surrounded by stone walls. Additionally, there had been five buildings that had once been standing on the pond’s west to south sides. Waterway systems were also detected at Wolji Pond. In total, some thirty-three thousand pieces of historic artifacts were excavated from the site.

Wolji Pond (formerly Anapji Pond) in 1975 at the start of the excavation of the pond.

Of these thirty-three thousand artifacts, there were numerous uniquely designed roof tiles, architectural materials, pottery, gilt bronze Buddhist statues, jewelry, accessories, and everyday items that were discovered at Wolji Pond. Also important are the number of Buddhist artifacts that were discovered at Wolji Pond that help give an insight into the Buddhist art of the Silla Dynasty.

It was also discovered at this time that both Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond must have been much larger than its present size. That’s why the excavation of Wolji Pond continues to the present day. So from 2007, thirty years after the initial excavation of both Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond, the Gyeongju National Museum has been slowly continuing the expanded excavation of these sites.

Wolji Pond, in 2004, when it was still known as Anapji Pond.

In 2016, after completing the excavation of the northeastern area of the site, the findings were revealed to the public. These findings included a toilet drain built for the highest classes of Silla society. This ancient toilet had a toilet bowl and a sewage system. Also discovered were parts of what was thought to be the gate to Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond.

In 2018, the city of Gyeongju tried to reconstruct the buildings on the Wolji Pond Site; however, because Wolji Pond is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, UNESCO opposed this project.

Wolji Pond Artifacts

In total, there were nearly 33,000 artifacts excavated from Wolji Pond. Of these 33,000 artifacts, over 24,000 were roof tiles. This was the largest amount of tiles discovered at a single historic site in Korea. There are a countless amount of designs to these roof tiles which provides valuable insight into the study of the Silla Dynasty.

For the sake of this blog, one of these roof tile designs was that of a Kalavinka, or “Gareungbinga – 가릉빈가” in Korean. Officially this roof tile is known as Convex Roof Tile with a Kalavinka Design (Unified Silla 8th century). This is a imaginary bird that appears in Buddhist texts. It has a human head and a bird body. At Wolji Pond, it appears on a convex roof-end tile. This design was also excavated at Hwangyongsa-ji Temple Site, Bunhwangsa Temple, and Samnangsa-ji Temple Site. (Picture Courtesy of the Gyeongju National Museum).

In addition to these roof tiles, there were various Buddhist sculptures discovered at Wolji Pond. They were typically made of gilt-bronze, and they dated back to the 7th to 10 century. Specifically, they were found in the mud flats of Wolji Pond around Building Site #3.

In total, there were ten Buddha plates that were discovered during the excavation of Wolji Pond. One of these is the Buddhist Triad (Unified Silla, late 7th century). This specific plate has a spike at the bottom of it, which gives credence to the fact that it was probably attached to another object. In the centre sits Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) that’s performing the “Turning the Wheel” mudra. This central image is joined on either side by a Bodhisattva. They both have round, plump faces. All three heads are surrounded by open halos. (Picture Courtesy of the Gyeongju National Museum).

Of the ten Buddha plates excavated at Wolji Pond, only two, like the aforementioned, are represented in a triad. The other eight appear as Bodhisattvas like the Bodhisattva (Unified Silla, late 7th century). This Bodhisattva is similar in terms of style as the Buddha triads. The main difference, however, is that the Bodhisattva has its hands clasped. There are also two spikes of different lengths at the bottom of the plate. Again, this is an indication that this plate was attached to something else. (Picture Courtesy of the Gyeongju National Museum).

There were smaller sized statues excavated from Wolji Pond, too, like the fourteen centimetre tall Buddha (Unified Silla 8th century). The Buddha’s head has curly hair and a stern expression. This is considered to be the best statue retrieved from Wolji Pond.

Another larger statue of the Buddha, at thirty-five centimetres, is the other Buddha (Unified Silla 8th century). While it once had a halo, the rest of the statue is well-preserved. Also of note is the two layers of clothing that adorns the statue.

Yet another statue that was excavated from Wolji Pond is the opposite of the second Buddha (Unified Silla 8th century). Unlike the aforementioned statue, all that remains of the Aureola-shaped Adornment (Unified Silla, 8th century) is the mandorla. This delicate artifact has a boat-shaped design that’s both open and fiery. The upper portion of the mandorla features a small standing Buddha statue. The central part of the mandorla plate has a hole where the statue would have once fit. Judging by the size of the mandorla, the accompanying statue must have been about twenty centimetres tall. (Picture Courtesy of the Gyeongju National Museum).

Another piece of Buddhist artwork that was excavated at Wolji Pond are twenty-six pieces of metalwork featuring a single Buddha. This includes the Incarnate Buddha Ornaments (Unified Silla, 8th century). The face of this artwork is simply an outline without any details. Most of this style of artwork had a canopy to help shield the Buddha statue.

Similar in composition to this metalwork artwork, are those that are adorned with a Buddha triad with a seated image of the Buddha. This was a common feature in this style of design except for one piece at Wolji Pond. A great example of this Buddhist metal artistry at Wolji Pond can be seen in the Incarnate Buddha Ornaments (Unified Silla, 8th century). It’s common with this type of metalwork for the Buddha triad to be riding clouds with a canopy above them. However, there were very few of these artifacts recovered at Wolji Pond. (Picture Courtesy of the Gyeongju National Museum).

Another interesting piece of metalwork that was recovered at Wolji Pond is the Incarnate Buddha Ornaments (Unified Silla, 8th century). In these two pieces of artwork, there are Buddhas paying respect to a sari (crystallized remains). In one, there’s a three-story pagoda on the back of elephants and horses; and on the other, there is a seated Buddha putting his hands together on the back of an elephant. It’s unclear if these statues had a fitted nimbus or not. (Picture Courtesy of the Gyeongju National Museum).

And another common object of Buddhist artistry that was excavated at Wolji Pond were eighty statues featuring Bicheon (Flying Heavenly Deities). The Bicheon statues were the most common Buddhist artwork to be discovered at Wolji Pond. A Bicheon was the most common adornment to decorate the nimbus or mandorla of a Buddha statue during the Silla Dynasty, so it makes sense as to why there were so many recovered. Among the discovered Bicheon, only four are playing a musical instrument like a large Korean flute, a six-holed bamboo flute, or a Korean mandolin. This is perhaps best represented in the 4.1 c.m. tall Incarnate Buddha Ornaments (Unified Silla, 8th century). (Picture Courtesy of the Gyeongju National Museum).

Layout of Wolji Pond

Wolji Pond measures two hundred metres from east to west. And it measures an additional one hundred and eighty metres from north to south. The edges of the southern and western side of the pond are straight; however, the edge to the north and east follow the water’s edge. Because of this design, the entire Wolji Pond can’t be seen in one glance. This was purposeful. Calculations were made when the pond was designed to make it appear as though it were the limitless sea with no end in sight. And the pond contains three islands in its midst.

A map of Wolji Pond (Picture Courtesy of Wolji Pond).

When you first enter the pond’s grounds through the entry gate, you’ll notice the foundation stones of where historic structures once stood. Both the southern and western portion of the property are filled with these elevated foundation areas. In total, there are three structures that currently take up residence at Wolji Pond. All three, however, are restored buildings. The first of the three is Restored Building #1. This building was reconstructed in 1980 during the extensive archaeological excavation conducted at Wolji Pond. The building’s design was based on historical documentation.

Next up is Restored Building #3. Like the previously reconstructed building, Restored Building #3 was rebuilt in 1980. The reason for the jump in numbers is that when the pond was being excavated in the 1970’s and 1980’s, five rock bases were found around the edge of the pond. These were assumed to be the architectural remains of historic structures. So counting from the far south, these stone bases were consecutively identified from one to five. And housed inside Restored Building #3 is a miniature scale model of what Wolji Pond looked like during the Silla Dynasty. In addition, there are replicas in glass cases lining the interior of this wooden structure of the artifacts discovered during the excavation of Wolji Pond. It’s also from this area of Wolji Pond that most of the Buddhist artifacts were discovered.

The last of these three rebuilt wooden structures that line the western edge of Wolji Pond is Restored Building #5. It’s the smallest of the three rebuilt structures, but it provides the best place to take pictures of all three structures together. Continuing past the Restored Building #5, you’ll make your way towards the north end of Wolji Pond. The hike around the north and east end of Wolji Pond follows the contours of the water’s edge. It’s also from the northern section of Wolji Pond that you can see the three islands standing in a row. On the eastern side of the pond, you’ll a beautiful forested area with rolling hills that wind their way past the outskirts of the neighbouring Wolji Pond. And finally, on the southeastern side of the pond, you’ll find a spring that feeds Wolji Pond. In total, the hike around Wolji Pond will take anywhere from thirty to forty-five minutes depending on how fast you want to walk and how many pictures you take.

How To Get There

Wolji Pond is easily accessible from the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal. And as a part of a walking tour of the downtown historical sites of Gyeongju, including Daereungwon Tomb Complex, Chemseongdae Observatory, and Banwolseong Palace Site, you can visit Wolji Pond. In fact, Wolji Pond is directly across the street from Gyeongju National Museum. It’s easy to get to, and it makes for a nice half-day walking trip around downtown Gyeongju. But remember, because it’s so easy and accessible to get to, that it will also be really busy as well.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Even though Wolji Pond isn’t a temple, it does have a connection to Buddhism that’s unmistakable, so that’s why you find it here on the blog. This was made plain with the numerous Buddhist artifacts recovered at the Wolji Pond Site. And a lot of these can be enjoyed at the neighbouring Gyeongju National Museum. As for Wolji Pond, it’s a beautiful example of the Silla Kingdom’s connection to nature. So if you haven’t already been, and enjoy seeing a beautiful side to Korea, add this amazing water garden to the long list of things to enjoy in Gyeongju.

At the entry of Wolji Pond.
The view from Restored Building #1 towards Restored Building #3.
The foundation stones for the palace structures at Wolji Pond.
The view from Restored Building #3 towards one of the three pond islands.
Restored Building #5.
The view from Restored Building #5 towards the two other restored structures at Wolji Pond.
The view from the north side of Wolji Pond.
Another view from the north side of Wolji Pond.
And a look through the forest at Wolji Pond from the east side.

Sports in Korean – Words for physical activities you’ll enjoy

Learning the different vocabulary and phrases for sports in Korean can be enjoyable! It’s because sports are common to people all over the world, which makes it a good conversation starter. Therefore, it can open you up to many fun conversations and bonding opportunities with your Korean friends!

In this post, we will be learning Korean words related to sports. If you do not yet know how to read and write in the Korean language, we recommend learning the Korean alphabet first and then returning to this lesson.

Sports in Korean

How to say “sports” in Korean?

The word for “sports” in the Korean language is 스포츠 (seupocheu). In the table below, we will also learn Korean words for each common sport that people often play, watch, or talk about.

In addition, we will teach some Korean phrases so you can easily start chatting with your friends about the topic. Let’s begin!

Words for popular sports in Korean

Do you have any sports that you like to spend time playing? Or is there perhaps a sport you like to follow on the TV? Here are some of the sports in English that you might know of, along with their Korean words.

sports스포츠 (seupocheu)
taekwondo태권도 (taegwondo)
soccer, football축구 (chukgu)
basketball농구 (nonggu)
volleyball배구 (baegu)
baseball야구 (yagu)
table tennis탁구 (takgu)
golf골프 (golpeu)
tennis테니스 (teniseu)
badminton배드민턴 (baedeuminteon)
archery양궁 (yanggung)
billiard당구 (danggu)
horseback riding승마 (seungma)
ice skating스케이트 (seukeiteu)
skiing스키 (seuki)
snowboarding스노보드 타기 (seunobodeu tagi)
surfing서핑 (seoping)
scuba diving스쿠버 다이빙 (seukubeo daibing)
skateboarding스케이트보드 타기 (seukeiteubodeu tagi)
watching sports스포츠보기 (seupocheubogi)
swimming수영 (suyeong)
dancing춤 (chum)
running달리기 (dalligi)
cycling자전거타기 (jajeongeotagi)
boxing권투 (gwontu)
bowling볼링 (bolling)
American football미식축구 (misikchukgu)
hockey하키 (haki)
ice hockey아이스하키 (aiseuhaki)
gymnastics체조 (chejo)
match, game경기 (gyeonggi)
cricket크리켓 (keuriket)
rugby럭비 (reokbi)
cheerleading응원 (eungwon)
parkour파쿠르 (pakureu)
frisbee프리스비 (peuriseubi)
rock climbing암벽 등반 (ambyeok deungban)
wrestling레슬링 (reseulling)
handball핸드볼 (haendeubol)
curling컬링 (keolling)
windsurfing윈드서핑 (windeuseoping)
lacrosse라크로스 (rakeuroseu)
water polo수구 (sugu)
rafting래프팅 (raepeuting)
weightlifting역도 (yeokdo)
Illustration Featuring Kids Holding Different Sports Gear

Photo credit:

Korean phrases about sports

Here are some Korean phrases that you can practice for a good ice breaker. You won’t only get to learn Korean, but you could also meet several new friends in the process.

Do you like sports? (formal)스포츠를 좋아하세요? seupocheureul joahaseyo?
Do you like sports? (neutral)스포츠를 좋아해요?
seupocheureul joahaeyo?
I like sports. I especially like soccer.스포츠를 좋아해요. 특히 축구를 좋아해요. seupocheureul joahaeyo. teuki chukgureul joahaeyo.
Which sports do you like?어떤 스포츠를 좋아해요?

eotteon seupocheureul joahaeyo?
Which sports do you like?무슨 스포츠를 좋아해요?
museun seupocheureul joahaeyo?
I like dancing.춤을 하는게 좋아해요.

chumeul haneunge joahaeyo
I am good at baseball.저는 야구를 잘해요.

jeoneun yagureul jalhaeyo.
I am not good at bowling.저는 볼링을 잘 못해요.
jeoneun bollingeul jal mothaeyo.
Watching sports is the most fun.스포츠보기는 제일 재미있어요.
seupocheubogineun jeil jaemiisseoyo.
I watch all the basketball games.저는 모든 농구 경기를 봐요.
jeoneun modeun nonggu gyeonggireul bwayo
I don't know how to swim.저는 수영을 할 줄 몰라요.
jeoneun suyeongeul hal jul mollayo
Do you want to play badminton this weekend?이번주말에 배드민턴을 하러 갈래요?
ibeonjumare baedeuminteoneul hareo gallaeyo?

What are the main sports in Korea?

European football, ice hockey, and various Olympic games are popular to play and watch worldwide. And Koreans are no different! There are plenty of sports enjoyed by Koreans both from North and South.

Illustration Featuring a Team of Baseball Players

Photo credit:

What are the popular sports in South Korea?

In South Korea, people like to watch and play sports, most especially baseball and football. These are considered the most popular sports in Korea, with national teams competing globally representing South Korea.

Other popular sports in the country are ball games such as basketball and volleyball. Koreans are also fond of playing golf, swimming, ice hockey, and taekwondo.

What is South Korea’s national sport?

The national sport in South Korea is 태권도 (Taekwondo). This sport is a Korean martial art that is characterized by punching and kicking systematically. Beyond that, it teaches heavy discipline by training the body and the mind, which helps one improve not only physically but mentally.

This sport is a great way to learn self-defense as it teaches you how to defend and attack without using any weapons, just your feet, and fists. Taekwondo has also been recognized as a global sport and has become an official game in the Olympics.

Sports in North Korea

North Korea is known to be a country isolated from the world. However, North Koreans enjoy playing sports as much as everyone else. In fact, North Korea teamed up with South Korea for the women’s ice hockey match in the Winter Olympics in 2018.

Similar to South Korea, football is also quite popular in the North. They have participated in FIFA World Cup matches and also held domestic football leagues. Other sports in North Korea are ice hockey, basketball, golf, gymnastics, and taekwondo.

Korean Traditional Sports

Apart from the sports listed above, Korea also has some traditional sports that are still played up to date. The first one is kite flying or 연날리기 (yeon nalligi). It may sound like a children’s game, but this is considered a sport in East Asia. Traditional Korean kites are made of bamboo sticks and Korean paper.

Korean Traditional Sport

Photo credit:

Another traditional Korean sport is bullfighting or 소싸움 (sossaum), which is just how it sounds like, two bulls are fighting each other. The bull who can successfully push the other back through head butting wins the match. This is also popular among people who bet on bulls that they think will win.

Korean wrestling or 씨름 (ssireum) is a traditional sport similar to Japan’s sumo wrestling. The contenders grab on to each other’s belt, and the one who can bring any part of the opponent’s body above the knee to the ground wins.

Congratulations, now you know many words and phrases to use when talking about sports in the Korean language! This way, you can have conversations about your own sports preferences, bond with Koreans over their love for soccer and baseball, or even try the Korean martial art taekwondo when in Korea. If you’re more eager to learn Korean now, we have plenty more posts for Korean words to learn!

The post Sports in Korean – Words for physical activities you’ll enjoy appeared first on 90 Day Korean®.

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The HIDDEN meaning of 반갑다 | Korean FAQ

A common English mistake that I hear from native Korean speakers is saying "Nice to meet you" after seeing someone they already know. This is because in their head, they're translating the expression 반가웠어요 or 반가워요 incorrectly. A similar thing can happen if a Korean learner is trying to translate Korean to English in their head.

If a Korean uses the verb 반갑다, it doesn't always mean that you're "meeting" someone for the first time. 반갑다 can also be used when you're simply seeing someone again (think "Nice to see you"), but that's not all. 반갑다 actually has an even simpler meaning at its core, and that's what I'll explain in this video.

The post The HIDDEN meaning of 반갑다 | Korean FAQ appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

Yunjangdae – Revolving Scriptures Library Pillar: 윤장대

Inside the Daejang-jeon Hall at Yongmunsa Temple in Yecheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do. The Yunjangdae, or “Revolving Scriptures Library Pillar” is to the Right of the Main Altar.


Perhaps the most obscure piece of artwork that you’ll find at a Korean Buddhist temple is the Yunjangdae, or “Revolving Scriptures Library Pillar.” In all of my travels, which now exceeds five hundred temples and hermitages, I’ve only encountered these beautiful libraries at three Korean Buddhist temples. So where can you find them? What do they look like? And why are they there?

Yunjangdae Design

The Yunjangdae, which is also known as a Jeonryunjang, is a colourfully painted library that houses Buddhist texts inside a wooden pillar. The Yunjangdae is rooted to the ground, but it has the ability to rotate caused by a spinning base. It can also be fastened to the ceiling with a spindle pillar, as well. The design of the Yunjangdae goes from narrow at the base to much broader near the top of the revolving pillar. Inside the body of the Yunjangdae, you’ll find multiple floral designed doors. And at the top of the Yunjangdae rests a bright red canopy. In addition to all this, the Yunjangdae can be adorned with dragons, Gwimyeon (Monster Masks), or even more flowers like lotus flowers and/or peonies.

The eastern Yunjangdae inside the Daejang-jeon Hall at Yongmunsa Temple.
And some of the floral woodwork adorning the western Yunjangdae inside the Daejang-jeon Hall at Yongmunsa Temple.

Yunjangdae Purpose

The purpose behind the Yunjangdae is closely associated to what it houses inside it. Inside the body of the Yunjangdae, and housed on multiple bookshelves, are rows of Buddhist texts. It’s believed by Buddhists that if you turn the Yunjangdae, while attempting to receive good karma, that you’ll in fact attain it by pushing the Yunjangdae around. It’s believed that by spinning the Yunjangdae around just once that you’ve read the entire canon of Buddhist texts housed inside the Yunjangdae. This idea is similar to the one found in Vajrayana Buddhism (which is also known as Tantric or Esoteric Buddhism). This form of Buddhist practices can be found in the form of prayer wheels in Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhist beliefs, so it’s rather interesting that it takes the form of the Yunjangdae on the Korean peninsula.


Because the Yunjangdae is so obscure and hard to find, like I said previously, I’ve only ever seen them at three temples in Korea. The first, which is the most historically significant, and also a Korean National Treasure, are the pair of Yunjangdae found at Yongmunsa Temple in Yecheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do. Alongside the Daejang-jeon Hall that they’re housed in, the pair of Yunjangdae at Yongmunsa Temple are National Treasure #328. The pair date back to 1173 A.D., and they were built during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) in the hopes of overcoming a national crisis.

The two other examples can be found inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall at Gapsa Temple in Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do. And the other modern example of a Yunjangdae can be found inside the Cheonwangmun Gate at Mihwangsa Temple in Haenam, Jeollanam-do.

The Yunjangdae inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall at Gapsa Temple in Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do.


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