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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.

How To Survive Summer In Seoul: 10 Tips To Stay Cool

Want to know the best ways to survive summer in Seoul and stay cool during the sweaty, sunny days? Then check out these 10 top tips to keep you cool.

These tips will help whether you’re spending summer in Seoul as a tourist or you live there and want some ideas to help stay sane when the summer heat kicks in.

There’s a bunch of great places to check out, ways to stay cool, and other travel tips for surviving the most difficult of Korea’s seasons.

Embrace summer in Seoul and make the most of the blue skies, delicious desserts, and cool evenings experience Seoul like a local.

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

I Seoul U Sign in summer in Seoul

10 Tips To Survive Summer In Seoul

Here’s my top 10 tips to survive summer in Seoul. These summer survival tips, built up from more than 6 summers of suffering, will help you make the most of this season, keep cool, and have an awesome time in Seoul.

If you want to know more about what summer in Seoul is like, such as the weather and what activities you can do, be sure to keep reading past these top 10 tips.

Thanks, and stay cool!

Footwear during summer in Seoul

1: Dress Down

Whilst you may want to look your best for your holiday pics, you will enjoy summer in Seoul a lot more if you wear loose, thin clothing that allows your skin to breathe and aerate.

If you’re worried about sunburn or mosquito bites, then long sleeves or trousers will help. In Korea you can get portable sleeves for your arm to help protect you from the sun.

Tops: The lighter, the better. You’ll only need one layer and you can usually wear this whatever time of day it is as it stays warm even at night in July and August.

Legs: Shorts or skirts are best to keep your legs cool. I’d avoid trousers unless you plan to get off the beaten path and go into nature.

Shoes: Be a real Korean and wear sandals / crocs during the summer to keep your feet cool. No socks, of course. If you’re going to do a lot of walking, then bring a good pair of thin, breathable walking shoes and sweat-resistant walking socks.

Shopping: You can buy most of these clothes for low prices in the Korean fashion markets of Dongdaemun, Myeongdong, or Namdaemun, as well as in the street fashion district of Hongdae.

Korean culture point: There are mixed impressions about what is acceptable in Korea in terms of revealing clothing, especially for women. Korean society was traditionally quite conservative, but attitudes are changing these days.

In terms of clothing and what you can / can’t wear, there’s no real restrictions in Seoul as long as you’re not going around naked! If you’re a foreigner, you’ll get a pass for most things anyway.

However, you will get a few raised eyebrows for going topless (men) and for low cut tops (women). Hot pants and short skirts are completely acceptable, though.

If in doubt, look at pictures of K-pop singers online and see what they wear.

Frosty icicle

2: Pack A Light Jacket

Although you should dress down during summer in Seoul to keep cool, there’ll also be plenty of times when you might get too cold. Not because the temperature has dropped, but because you’ve gone inside a building.

If you walk down the streets of any shopping or dining area in Seoul, you’ll feel the cold air blowing at you. Even when you’re several feet away. Korean shops and restaurants love to crank the air conditioner to max.

If you plan to stay inside somewhere for more than 30 minutes, this can lead you to get rather chilly. Cinemas and cafes are the worst for this and it’s useful to have a light jacket stored in your bag that you can put on to keep cool. The same applies for long bus journeys.

A glass of water

3: Drink Lots Of Water

Hydration is really important. Not just because you’ll feel sick if you don’t get enough liquids, but surviving summer in Seoul is a lot easier when you’re cooling off with ice cold water.

Bring a reusable water bottle (or reuse one you’ve grabbed from your hotel) when you go out. You can fill them up in cafes and restaurants that have water filters and it’s a cheap and effective way to stay hydrated.

A nice alternative to iced coffee is popping into a hanok cafe and sampling some traditional Korean teas. Drinking hot tea during summer can actually help reduce your overall temperature as you sweat a bit more when you drink it, which cools you down.

COEX Mall is a great place to visit during a rainy day in Seoul

4: Stay Cool In A Mall

As mentioned, Korean shops and malls love to blast the air conditioner at max power during the summer, which make these places the perfect spot to spend a busy day in Seoul without the sweat.

There are several large malls throughout Seoul that you could spend the whole day in and not get bored. From shopping and dining, to cinemas, aquariums, arcades, and lots more, Seoul’s malls are like a self-enclosed (and cool) city.

Some of the best malls to visit during summer in Seoul include:

  • COEX Mall, Gangnam
  • Lotte Dept Store, Myeongdong
  • Times Square Mall, Yeongdeungpo
  • Anyeong Insadong, Insadong
  • Doota Mall, Dongdaemun
  • I-Park Mall, Yongsan
  • Migliore Mall, Dongdaemun
  • Mecenatpolis Mall, Hongdae

And many others that you’ll want to escape into if you’re walking around Seoul during summer. Cool, free air conditioning!

Joel standing by the Seoul Fortress Wall at night in summer in Seoul

5: Go Out At Night

The best time to be out and about during summer in Seoul is the evening and night time. When the sun goes down, the heat drops a bit to slightly less sweaty temperatures. That means mid-20s during July and August.

After checking out indoor places during the daytime, use your energy to explore Seoul by night. This is what a lot of locals do and there are so many awesome places to spend the warm summer evenings.

Use the cool nights to get out and hike the fortress walls (as pictured above), visit the night markets, relax at the Han River parks, or hike up to the N Seoul Tower and see the city lights.

For more ideas of things to do in Seoul at night, check out these 20 summer activities.

Summer Activities In Korea
Cheonggyecheon Stream in summer in Seoul

6: Keep Cool By The Water

If you’re determined to stay outside during the day, then the coolest places to be during summer in Seoul are by the water.

Seoul is blessed with several lovely waterways that not only provide an oasis amongst the heat of the concrete jungle, but also offer a range of fun activities and ways to stay cool.

There are many parks on the shores of the Han River, as well as the 11km long Cheonggyecheon Stream (pictured above), where you can cool off and find some shade.

These spots offer the chance to watch live performances, visit markets, and indulge in some cool Korean treats (or ice cold Korean beer).

Splashing around at a water park in Korea

7: Splash Away The Heat

If the idea of sitting by the water without jumping into it sounds too hard to resist, then why not spend a day at one of Seoul’s many water parks or water-based play areas instead.

These are locations where you can swim or splash around in the water. Some of these will be full water parks, others simple spots that offer some watery fun. Wherever you go, it’ll give you a chance to enjoy the heat and get wet.

  • Sealala Water Park
  • Seoul Children’s Grand Park
  • Cheonggye Plaza Water Jets
  • Lotte Water Park, Gimhae
  • Onemount Water Park, Goyang
  • Water Kingdom Water Park & ​​Spa

Outside of Seoul there’s also the fantastic Caribbean Bay, which is part of the Everland Resort. Definitely a day trip worth making during summer.

Korean mango flavoured bingsu dessert

8: Eat All The Icy Treats

Devouring lots of sugary treats might not be the best idea, health-wise, but it feels so good and is the perfect way to cool down on a hot summer’s day in Seoul.

The best of the bunch is a Korean dessert that you really must try – bingsu. This shaved ice dish is the perfect antidote the summer heat. You can find dozens of varieties of this dish that add fruit, ice cream, cakes, sauces, red bean, and lots more.

If you’re feeling adventurous, there are often some unique ice creams that come out each summer. I’ve seen everything from sweetcorn and sweet potato ice cream to super spicy chicken ice cream with red beans. Do you dare try them?

Woman keeping cool with a fan

9: Buy A Mini Fan

Noisier than a swarm of mosquitos, the buzz of handheld fans can be heard wherever you are in Seoul during summertime.

These modern fans have replaced the traditional handheld fan as the go-to way to keep cool during summer. You don’t have to flap your arm as much, which definitely helps stop the sweat in itself.

They’re cheap, fit in your pocket, and can be bought at many markets, convenience stores, and many other shops. Pick one up and keep yourself cool.

Korean woman with summer protective gear

10: Stay Safe From The Sun

When it’s sunny in Seoul, it’s not only hot, but very easy to get sunburn. You only need an hour or so to be exposed enough to burn. Better to wrap up like in the picture above if you’re sensitive to the sun.

Remember to pack sun cream, sunglasses, parasol, sun hat, and anything else that will protect you. Wear long sleeves if you expect to be outside a lot and to keep cool and shaded, buy a parasol that protects you from both sunshine and the summer rain.

You can buy all the essentials in Seoul in case you forget them. Head to cosmetic shops such as Olive Green or LaLa for a good range of sun protection goods. Daiso also has small sun protection goods at a low price.

Children in Seoul in summer playing in the water at Cheonggye Plaza

What Is Summer In Seoul Like?

Summer in Seoul is hot, humid, and can be very wet. But it can also be magnificent, with clear blue skies and longer daytime sunshine.

It’s definitely the toughest season to travel to Korea and one that you should be prepared for so that you know what to pack, where to go, and how to survive summer in Seoul.

For more information about each season in Korea, check out this article about Korea’s very different seasons:

Korean Season Guide

Don’t let the heat and rain put you off, though. There’s loads of awesome activities that you can enjoy, dishes best served during summer, and great places to visit.

Click below for the best activities to do during summer in Korea:

20 Summer Activities In Korea
Average temperatures and rainfall in Seoul Korea

Above you can see a chart showing the average temperature in Seoul for each month, as well as the amount of rainfall.

The summer months (June – September) are the wettest by a long way and also the hottest. Early summer is monsoon season and the weather is very unpredictable, switching from blue skies to heavy rain and back again in the space of a day.

There can also be whole weeks with nothing but rain. However, this is kind of nice as it means the weather is a lot cooler.

There are still loads of things to do when it’s raining in Seoul, as you can see in the link below:

Rainy Day Activities In Seoul

As for the heat… well that’s the biggest issue for me, and if you’re from a country that doesn’t experience high summer heat and humidity, then it can be quite shocking.

The graph above shows average temperatures for the year, but this doesn’t really reflect how hot it can get during the day.

As I’m writing this, the temperature is around 35 degrees celsius and was down to 25-26 degrees at night (3am). It can be over 30 degrees at 10 or 11pm at night.

If it’s raining, however, the temperature can stay below 30 degrees and drop to 20 degrees at night. That’s why average temperature figures are very deceptive. Either way, it’ll usually be hot and, if it’s not, then wet.

That’s summer in Seoul, sadly. But it’s not all bad. Stay cool, go out at night, and make the most of it when you can. At least the air is less polluted than spring, there’s loads of cold drinks and desserts to indulge in, and nature as its most resplendent.


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 summer in Seoul, then you can also ask in the Korea Travel Advice group on Facebook.

Korea Travel Advice Group

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Korean Test Practice with Billy [Ep. 31] – Intermediate Korean (Listening Practice)

If you're preparing for the TOPIK, or just any sort of Korean test, then this series is for you. In my "Korean Test Practice" series you can practice a variety of questions ranging from Beginner to Advanced. This week's question is for Intermediate level learners.

There are currently 31 episodes in this series, so if you'd like to really challenge yourself (and if you're advanced level), then why not try practicing all 31 of them in a row?

Here is the listening example:

여러분 안녕하세요. 저는 지금 가족과 소풍을 와 있어요. 여기 어디인지 아세요? 네, 맞아요. 요즘 인기 있는 곰의 스카프 공원이에요. 앗! 안돼 까치! 언니 지금 방송 중이잖아. 까치야 인사해. 아, 뭐야. 인사하라니까 바로 가버렸네. 네. 까치는 저희 집 막내예요. 지난달에 2살 됐어요. 원래 여기 애견 운동장이 같이 있다고 해서 까치도 데리고 왔는데 다른 강아지들이랑 잘 못 놀길래 그냥 저희랑 같이 놀고 있어요. 저기 뒤에 보이는 두 분이 저희 엄마랑 아빠예요. 2시간째 낚시 중이신데 아빠는 아직 한 마리도 못 잡으셨어요. 네, 맞아요. 여기 텐트도 설치할 수 있고 바비큐 그릴도 쓸 수 있어서 정말 좋은 것 같아요. 네. 텐트 쓰려면 무조건 예약해야 돼요. 다음 주에 또 예약 오픈하니까 그때 성공하세요! 앗, 저는 언니가 저녁 혼자 준비한다고 화내고 있어서 이만 가볼게요. 여러분 안녕!

Here is the English translation:

Hello everyone. Now I am on a picnic with my family. Do you know where we are? Yes, that’s right. This is the recently popular Bear’s Scarf Park. Ah! No, Magpie! I’m broadcasting (streaming) right now. Say hi, Magpie. Ah, come on. I asked it to say hi and she just left right away. All right. Magpie (dog) is the youngest in our family. She turned 2 last month. Originally one of the reasons I brought Magpie here is because there’s a dog playground at the park, but she didn’t get along well with other dogs so she’s just playing with us. The two people you see behind are my mom and dad. My dad’s been fishing now for 2 hours but he hasn’t caught even one fish yet. Yes, that’s right. You can put up tents here and use a barbecue grill, so I think it’s really nice. Yes. If you want to use a tent, you must make a reservation. Next week, reservations open again so get it (reservation) then! Ah, I should go now because my older sister said she’s preparing dinner all by herself, and is getting mad. Bye everyone!

The post Korean Test Practice with Billy [Ep. 31] – Intermediate Korean (Listening Practice) appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

 Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean





Haeunjeongsa Temple – 해운정사 (Haeundae-gu, Busan)

Gwaneumbo-gung Three-Story Wooden Pagoda at Haeunjeongsa Temple in Haeundae-gu, Busan.

Temple History

Hyanggok-seonsa (1912-1978), who was the founding monk of Haeunjeongsa Temple, was wandering all over Korea in an attempt to find a perfect place to build a temple. And the reason that Hyanggok-seonsa wanted to build a temple is that he wanted to help rescue people’s souls. Eventually, he arrived in Haeundae, Busan. More specifically, he found the perfect place for a temple at the base of Mt. Jangsan (634 m) to the south and east of the diminutive Mt. Bongdaesan (147.7 m). The reason that Hyanggok-seonsa decided to build Haeungjeongsa Temple where it’s located is that he believed that Mt. Jangsan looked like a seated female lion. And since he wanted his followers to be like lions, he decided to build Haeungjeongsa Temple in Haeundae, Busan in 1971.

It’s also believed that Haeunjeongsa Temple in Busan is placed in a geographically auspicious location based upon the principles of geomancy, or “Pungsu-jiri” in Korean. So based upon Pungsu-jiri (geomancy), if a person visits Haeungjeongsa Temple once a day, they will gain greater personal fortune and luck.

Temple Layout

Throughout the past two decades, there has been numerous changes that have taken place at Haeunjeongsa Temple. The temple continues to grow and expand. This is made evident right at the very entry of the temple. When I first visited Haeunjeongsa Temple back in 2004, there wasn’t an entry gate. Now, there’s a beautiful Haetalmun Gate. This gate wasn’t completed until 2006. This beautiful and spacious entry gate is joined by a pair of large Haetae statues out in front of it.

Up a long stone staircase, you’ll enter into the temple’s main courtyard. Straight ahead of you is the massive Wontongbo-jeon Hall. The exterior walls to this massive main hall are adorned with two sets of murals. The upper set of murals are the Palsang-do (The Eight Scenes from the Buddha’s Life Murals), and the lower set of murals are the Shimu-do (The Ox-Herding Murals). Joining these murals is intricate woodwork adorned with elaborate dancheong colours that cover every square inch of the Wontongbo-jeon Hall’s exterior walls. As for the interior, there are five large statues that take up residence on the main altar. The most impressive is the central image of the multi-armed and headed Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). The far left wall is home to a memorial shrine for the dead, while the far right wall acts as an altar for Buddhist monks that were important in the growth of Buddhism in Korea. Additionally, there’s a Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural) to the immediate right of the main altar inside the Wontongbo-jeon Hall. There’s also a simplistic mural of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) next to the Shinjung Taenghwa.

To the right of the Wontongbo-jeon Hall, and just as impressive as the main hall, is the Gwaneumbo-gung Three-Story Wooden Pagoda, which is a three-story wooden pagoda dedicated to the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Gwanseeum-bosal. Just like the main hall, the Gwaneumbo-gung Three-Story Wooden Pagoda is beautifully adorned with dancheong colours that are predominantly green in colour. As for the interior, you’ll only be able to enter the first floor of the structure. Sitting on the main altar is a miniature golden palace-like structure with a statue of Gwanseeum-bosal inside. Joining this main altar structure, and flanking it on both the right and left walls, are two more incarnations of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. One of these statues holds a baby, while the other cradles a medicinal bottle in her right hand. These two larger statues, in turn, are joined by wall-to-wall ceramic statues of Gwanseeum-bosal.

And to the right of the Gwaneumbo-gung Three-Story Wooden Pagoda is the Daebul-jeon Hall. This temple shrine hall is a variation of the Cheonbul-jeon Hall. The exterior walls are adorned with various Buddhist motif paintings around the eaves of the hall. And just like the previous two temple shrine halls, the Daebul-jeon Hall is also adorned with beautiful dancheong colours. As you enter the Daebul-jeon Hall, you’ll be greeted by a thousand tiny jade green statues dedicated to the Buddha. Resting on the main altar is a triad centred by Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). And on the far right wall is a painting dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). And on the far right wall is another Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural).

In front of both the Gwaneumbo-gung Three-Story Wooden Pagoda and the Daebul-jeon Hall, as you make your way back towards the Wontongbo-jeon Hall, you’ll find an exact replica of the Dabo-tap Pagoda. For those that might be unfamiliar with this pagoda, it’s the famous pagoda at Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju. The original is National Treasure #20.

Having walked around the main temple courtyard, and past the main hall, you’ll find a collection of statues dedicated to prominent Buddhist monks like the Bodhidharma (5th to 6th century), Taego Bou (1301-1383), and Gyeongheo-seonsa (1849-1912). Sitting in the centre of the set is a stone statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). In total, there are ten statues of these prominent monks in this outdoor shrine.

And out in front of this outdoor shrine dedicated to prominent monks is a rather peculiar looking seven-story pagoda. At its base sits four lions reminiscent of the Four Lion Three-story Stone Pagoda of Hwaeomsa Temple (N.T. #35). The body of the pagoda has Buddhas on its four sides. And out in front of the pagoda stands a golden statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal. To the rear of this seven-story pagoda is the temple’s compact Jong-ru (Bell Pavilion), as well as the monks dorms, administrative office, and kitchen.

How To Get There

You simply need to take the Busan subway system to Haeundae Station, which is stop #203. Take one of the exits out of the north side of the station and head towards the Haeundae train station. Once you get outside, you can easily catch a taxi that will bring you to Haeunjeongsa Temple.

Overall Rating: 7/10

This relatively unknown temple is an added little bonus if you’re headed to Haeundae Beach. As for Haeunjeongsa Temple, it’s filled with beautiful architecture like the Wontongbo-jeon Hall, the Gwaneumbo-gung Three-Story Wooden Pagoda, and the Daebul-jeon Hall. Adding to this is the beautiful main altar statue inside the Wontongbo-jeon Hall of Gwanseeum-bosal, as well as the outdoor shrine dedicated to prominent Korean monks and the seven-story stone pagoda. So if you’re in the area, Haeunjeongsa Temple is definitely worth a visit.

The outdoor shrine dedicated to famed Korean monks.
The compact Jong-ru (Bell Pavilion) at Haeunjeongsa Temple.
The lion-based seven-story stone pagoda in the temple courtyard.
A closer look at the amazing pagoda.
The Wontongbo-jeon Hall to the left with the Dabo-tap Pagoda replica to the right.
Inside the Wontongbo-jeon Hall.
A closer look at the amazing dancheong that adorns the Wontongbo-jeon Hall.
Inside the Gwaneumbo-gung Three-Story Wooden Pagoda.
The Daebul-jeon Hall.
Inside the Daebul-jeon Hall.

Gwangbae and Geosingwang – The Nimbus and Mandorla: 광배 & 거신광

The Stone Seated Buddha in Mireukgok Valley of Namsan Mountain at Borisa Temple in Gyeongju. The statue is Korean Treasure #136.


It’s common to see either the body or head (or both) of a Buddha or Bodhisattva at a Korean Buddhist temple have a circular nimbus or boat-like shaped mandorla surrounding it. Both shapes are loaded with symbolic meaning. So why do they appear in Buddhist artwork like in statues or paintings? And what do they mean?

Gwangbae and Geosingwang Design

In Korean, the round nimbus around the head of a Buddha or Bodhisattva is known as a “Gwangbae – 광배.” And the boat-like shaped mandorla around the head and body of a Buddha or Bodhisattva is called a “Geosingwang – 거신광” in Korean. In India, the nimbus is traditionally placed exclusively around the head of the Buddha or Bodhisattva; however, in Korea, the nimbus can either appear around the head and/or the body of the Buddha or Bodhisattva. In all cases, the nimbus (gwangbae) and mandorla (geosingwang) is meant to symbolize the light of wisdom and truth.

The statue inside the Seokguram Grotto in Gyeongju. The Seokguram Grotto statue is a great example of a circular nimbus mounted behind the head of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). Seokguram Grotto is National Treasure #24.
The Clay Seated Buddha of Buseoksa Temple is a great example of a mandorla surrounding the entire body of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). The statue is National Treasure #45.

More specifically, in Korea, the light that shines forth from a Buddha or Bodhisattva is divided into two types of light. The first is known as “The Light from the Head,” and the second is known as “The Light from the Body.” Images that have a body mandorla will also surround the head in Korea, as well. However, this isn’t always the case with a head nimbus, as a head nimbus can stand alone adorning a Korean Buddhist statue or painting like the statue of Seokgamoni-bul inside the Seokguram Grotto in Gyeongju. If a statue or painting has a head nimbus, look at the tuft of hair between the eyebrows of the Buddha or Bodhisattva, as it’s believed that this is the most powerful ray of light that can emanate from a Buddha or Bodhisattva.

If a statue or painting of a Buddha or Bodhisattva has a full body mandorla, which encapsulates both the head and the body, this type of mandorla is referred to as a “Geosingwang – 거신광” in Korean. The shape of the mandorla can look like a flame that’s flaring up. If this is the case, this type of mandorla is called a “Bojuhyeong,” which means “precious gem type” in English. However, if the shape of the mandorla simply looks like the bow of a ship, it’s called a “Juhyeong” in Korean. This shape usually consists of an outer loop filled with a honeysuckle design or a Chinese grass design with a lotus flower design in the centre of the aforementioned winding vegetation.

The Mural Painting in Geungnakjeon Hall of Muwisa Temple is National Treasure #313.
Housed inside the Daejang-jeon Hall, which is Korean Treasure #827, at Geumsansa Temple, is this fiery mandorla that surrounds a statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha).

Gwangbae and Geosingwang Meaning

This form of nimbus and mandorla light is referenced in the “Lotus Sutra.” In this sutra, it is stated that a ray of light emitted from “…the tuft of white hair between his [the Buddha’s] eyebrows.” And from “The on the Visualization of the Buddha of Infinite Light,” the ray shining forth from the Buddha is the psychic energy of enlightenment. It’s also a mark of wisdom. This is number thirty-one of the thirty-two major marks on the Buddha’s body. This radiating mark of wisdom is known as an “auspicious ray.” It’s also known as the “mark of wisdom light.”

Furthermore, and according to Buddhism, this light that radiates from either the head or body of a Buddha or Bodhisattva is said to penetrate the darkness of delusion and falseness to help reveal the Truth. In Korean, “gwang” means physical light, which shines on its own. The Korean word “myeong,” on the other hand, is the illumination of objects by light. Brought together, and used in a Buddhist context, the word means a shining light that destroys all ignorance that helps reveal the dharma. Furthermore, this light breaks through delusion and false beliefs, while also relieving all sentient beings that suffer through Samsara. Ultimately, this light will lead individuals towards the path of liberation and freedom from Samsara.

The Stone Seated Buddha of Gounsa Temple is Korean Treasure #246.
The Stone Seated Buddha of Unmunsa Temple is Korean Treasure #317.
The Stone Seated Bhaisajyaguru Buddha of Jikjisa Temple is Korean Treasure #319.


There are numerous wonderful examples of nimbus and mandorla adorning either Buddha or Bodhisattva statues or paintings throughout Korea. Here are just a few examples of these amazing artifacts: the Stone Seated Buddha in Mireukgok Valley of Namsan Mountain at Borisa Temple in Gyeongju, which is Korean Treasure #136; the statue of Seokgamoni-bul inside the Seokguram Grotto in Gyeongju. The Seokguram Grotto, statue included, is National Treasure #24. The Clay Seated Buddha of Buseoksa Temple in Yeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do is National Treasure #45; the Mural Painting in Geungnakjeon Hall of Muwisa Temple is National Treasure #313; the statue of Seokgamoni-bul inside the Daejangjeon Hall of Geumsansa Temple in Gimje, Jeollabuk-do; the Stone Seated Buddha of Gounsa Temple in Uiseong, Gyeongsangbuk-do is Korean Treasure #246; the Stone Seated Buddha of Unmunsa Temple in Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do is Korean Treasure #317; The Stone Seated Bhaisajyaguru Buddha of Jikjisa Temple in Gimcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do is Korean Treasure #319; the Stone Seated Buddhas in Bukji-ri, Yeongju, now located at Buseoksa Temple, is Korean Treasure #220-1; and the Stone Seated Buddha of Yonghwasa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do is Korean Treasure #491.

The Stone Seated Buddhas in Bukji-ri, Yeongju, which is now housed at Buseoksa Temple, is Korean Treasure #220-1.
The Stone Seated Buddha of Yonghwasa Temple is Korean Treasure #491.

Wandering Around Ulsan

Recently, I have been walking around my adopted hometown of Ulsan, a lot more with my camera. I used to just walk or run along the Taehwa river to get into shape. However, since downloading “Hipstamatic X” on my phone and then picking up a smaller camera bag, I have started taking a lot more photos.

The reason for this was not really clear at first. I just wanted to get out and walk before work in order to get some exercise but more and more, I started noticing the world around me a little more. For photographers, that is something that we tend to forget as we focus on the end location. Especially, for landscape photographers, like myself.

Last month, I read the book “the Wander Society” by Keri Smith and it really struck a chord with me. It wasn’t like anything else that I have read at all this year and it opened my eyes up to something that I was missing in my day-to-day life and that was a sense of adventure.

How does this all have anything to do with photography in Korea, you ask? The answer is simple, we can’t always just pack up and go to Seoul or Jeollanamdo whenever we want. Some of us can’t wake up early and others work until late. However, we all have time to simply take a walk, somewhere.

After rediscovering film photography, this sense of wonder in the wandering that I do became something that I look forward to most days. It is when the grief and stress take a backseat to the crazy world around me. The changing of the seasons and the random animals that inhabit the urban environment around my apartment seem to stand out a little more when I am poking around with my camera.

So what can you do? just take a walk. You don’t have to have any set subject. It doesn’t have to be about your kids, girlfriend, dog or partner. Just open up to where ever your mind takes you. I know that sounds a little too “woo-woo” new wave for most but trust me when I say that it will help you discover hidden parts of your neighbourhood and your creativity.

My advice would be to take some time each day and go for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a long time and you don’t have to go very far. Just go and observe the light. Walk and see what catches your eye and photograph it. That is all. You don’t have to share these shots with anyone. They are just for you

The bottomline here is that this post is mostly about discovering not only your creativity but also your city as well. Often times, we gravitate to well-known areas to shoot because we think that it will get us more likes. However, taking the time to explore the area around your adopted home will prove very useful in the long run.

The post Wandering Around Ulsan appeared first on The Sajin.

Namjijangsa Temple – 남지장사 (Dalseong-gun, Daegu)

The Daeung-jeon Hall at Namjijangsa Temple in Dalseong-gun, Daegu.

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Temple History

Namjijangsa Temple is located in the southern part of Daegu in Dalseong-gun. More specifically, the temple is located to the south-east of the towering Mt. Choijeongsan (905 m). As for the name of the temple, Namjijangsa Temple means “South Jijang Temple” in English, which is in reference to the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife: Jijang-bosal. And the temple is a counterpart to Bukjijangsa Temple in neighbouring Dong-gu, Daegu.

Namjijangsa Temple was first established in 684 A.D. by the monk Yanggae. Eventually, the temple would grow to include eight shrine halls, a Jong-ru (Bell Pavilion) and Cheonwangmun Gate. Namjijangsa Temple is also believed to have once been the home to the famed monk Ilyeon (1206-1289) in 1263. Ilyeon was the author of the Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms). However, Namjijangsa Temple was completely destroyed by the invading Japanese in 1592 during the Imjin War (1592-1598). The temple would later be rebuilt on a smaller scale starting in 1652 by the monk Inhye. This would start a process of reconstruction and extensive renovations that would last over one hundred years, coming to an end in 1769.

Historically, the temple has been home to two of Korea’s most famous monks: Samyeong-daesa (1544-1610) and Muhak-daesa (1327-1405). Muhak-daesa was an advisor to Yi Seong-gye (Taejo of Joseon, r. 1392-1398), who would found the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Muhak-daesa once studied at Namjijangsa Temple. As for Samyeong-daesa, he would use Namjijangsa Temple as the main training centre for the Righteous Army (Uibyeong – 의병) in the Yeongnam region. Samyeong-daesa would lead the Righteous Army against the Japanese during the Imjin War (1592-1598); sadly, this would result in the temple being a target by the Japanese, leading to its ultimate destruction in 1592, to help blunt the efforts of Samyeong-daesa.

Temple Layout

You first approach Namjijangsa Temple down a few country roads, until you eventually arrive at the temple parking lot. It’s next to a beautiful large water fountain that you’ll climb a set of stone stairs to get to the rather peculiar entry gate. The entry gate at Namjijangsa Temple, rather uniquely, has a Jong-ru (Bell Pavilion) to the right with a storage area to the left. Housed inside the Jong-ru Pavilion is a stout Brahma Bell with Poroe adorning the top of the bronze bell and Korean writing and Bicheon (Flying Heavenly Deities) adorning the body of the bell.

Having passed through this temple entry gate, you’ll enter into the main temple courtyard at Namjijangsa Temple. To your left, as you first enter, are the monks living quarters. And to the right is the temple’s visitors centre. Straight ahead of you sits the Daeung-jeon Hall. In front of the main hall stands a slender five-story stone pagoda that’s adorned with various trinkets that visitors have left behind as signs of devotion. Adorning the exterior walls to the Daeung-jeon Hall are a beautiful set of the Palsang-do (The Eight Scenes from the Buddha’s Life). As for the interior, and resting on the main altar of the Daeung-jeon Hall, are a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). This statue is joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). And on the far right wall hangs a large Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural).

To the right rear of the Daeung-jeon Hall is the Samseong-gak Hall. Housed inside this shaman shrine hall are a triad of paintings. Both the Dokseong (Lonely Saint) and Chilseong (Seven Stars) murals are predominantly red in colour. But it’s the curmudgeonly Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), who holds the accompanying tiger by the tail, that’s the main attraction of the three shaman murals.

To the left of the Daeung-jeon Hall is the newly constructed Geukrak-jeon Hall. As you first enter the shrine hall, you’ll find amazing dragons adorning the latticework of the entry door. At the base of this door is an equally amazing Gwimyeon (Monster Masks) guarding the entry of the Geukrak-jeon Hall. As for the interior, and resting on a packed main altar, is a triad centred by Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). Both Bodhisattvas wear beautiful fiery crowns.

And just to the left of the Geukrak-jeon Hall, in an outdoor pavilion, under a canopy, is a shrine dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). The intense image of Yongwang is joined by two twisting dragons. The large image of Yongwang is also joined by a spring at the base of the mural.

How To Get There

From the Daegu train station, you’ll need to walk about fifteen minutes, or one kilometre, to get to the Chilseong market (where the NH Bank is located) bus stop. Take the bus that reads “Gachang 2” on it. After fifty stops, or one hour, you’ll need to get off at the Urokri stop. This is also the last stop of the bus route. From the Urokri stop, you’ll need to walk an additional 2.7 kilometres, or forty-one minutes, to get to Namjijangsa Temple.

You can take a bus or you can simply take a taxi from the Daegu train station. If you do decide to take a taxi, it’ll cost you around 25,000 won (one way), and it’ll take about one hour.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Without a doubt, the biggest highlight to this temple is the curmudgeonly Sanshin painting inside the Samseong-gak Hall. Adding to the temple’s overall beauty is the Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural) housed inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, the main altar statues inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall, and the large outdoor shrine dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King).

The entry to Namjijangsa Temple.
The Brahma Bell inside the entry gate to the temple.
One of the Palsang-do murals.
A look inside the Daeung-jeon Hall at the main altar.
The curmudgeonly Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) inside the Samseong-gak Hall.
The newly built Geukrak-jeon Hall.
The beautiful dragons and Gwimyeon adorning the entry to the Geukrak-jeon Hall.
A look inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall at the main altar.
The outdoor shrine dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King).
A closer look at the Yongwang mural.

Grading your Korean – Mastering pronouns | Billy Go

It's time for a new "Grading your Korean" episode, where I grade the Korean of some of my subscribers. I'm still accepting new submissions, and there are instructions for how you can send in your video for me to grade in this video's description.

In this episode, we'll talk in detail about using Korean politeness levels, as well as using pronouns in Korean.

Special thanks to Grant for sending me his video to grade.

The post Grading your Korean – Mastering pronouns | Billy Go appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

Narayeon Geumgang and Miljeok Geumgang – The Twin Guardians of Korean Temples: 나라연 금강 & 밀적 금강


When you first enter a temple, you’re typically greeted by the paintings or the statues of the “Sacheonwang” in Korean, or the “Four Heavenly Kings” in English, inside the Cheonwangmun Gate. However, there are two other guardians that you can find at the entry of a Korean Buddhist temple. They can either be painted on the front entry doors to the temple, or they can take up residence inside the Geumgangmun Gate. As I’ve already written a post about the Sacheonwang, I thought I would now write about the other two guardians that you might encounter at the entry of a Korean temple. So who are these two guardians? What do they look like? And why are they at the entry of a Korean Buddhist temple.

The History of Narayeon Geumgang and Miljeok Geumgang

The twin guardians at the entry of a Korean Buddhist temple are known as “Narayeon Geumgang – 나라연금강” and “Miljeok Geumgang – 밀적 금강” in Korean. Both are manifestations of Vajrapani (Protector and Guide to Siddhartha Gautama). Additionally, they are seen as a manifestation of Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul), and in Pure Land Buddhism, or “Jeongto-jong – 정토종” in Korean, the image of Daesaeji-bosal will appear flanking Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).

In Chinese Buddhism, where these two figures originate, and then migrate eastward to the Korean peninsula and then onto Japan, they are known as Heng and Ha. At a Chinese Buddhist temple, you’ll typically find them housed inside the Shanmen (The Gate of Three Liberations), which is the most important gate at a Chan (Seon – 선) Buddhist temple. They typically hold vajras (short metal weapons symbolic of the indestructibility of a diamond). In Korean a vajra is known as “Geumgang-jeo – 금강저.” Both are believed to protect the dharma (Buddha’s teachings), so they are known as dharmapala (dharma protector).

Originally when these two guardians appeared in Indian Buddhism, there was only one of them. However, as Buddhism migrated eastward and appeared in China, the influence of Chinese traditional culture and folk customs took hold. So instead of having just one of these guardians, and appealing to the Chinese custom of the importance of pairs, these two guardians multiplied and became Heng and Ha.

The Appearance of Narayeon Geumgang and Miljeok Geumgang

As for the appearance of Narayeon Geumgang and Miljeok Geumgang, they can be wearing a crown and they have enormous physical strength made evident by their rippling upper body muscles. They have graceful, light clothes with their upper bodies exposed. However, during the conservatism of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the upper body was later clothed. They can have wild hair, coloured skin, and fierce and intimidating expressions on their faces. They also appear with their eyes wide open and their noses protruding outward. Most commonly, and the greatest giveaway as to their identity, are the vajras that they hold in their hands.

More specifically, the guardian on the right is traditionally Miljeok Geumgang, and it has its mouth open to pronounce the sound “a.” This sound represents the vocalization of the first grapheme (a grapheme is a letter or a number of letters that represent a sound in a word) of Sanskrit Devanagari. This is “अ” and it’s pronounced “a.” Miljeok Geumgang symbolizes unconcealed strength, which is physically made evident with the geumgang-jeo (diamond club), thunderbolt stick, or sun symbol he holds. It’s also made plain by Miljeok Geumgang baring his teeth.

The guardian on the left, Narayeon Geumgang, has its mouth closed to utter the “heng” sound. This sound represents the vocalization of the last grapheme of Devanāgarī, which is “ह.” This is pronounced like a “heng.” Furthermore, Narayeon Geumgang symbolizes a dormant sense of strength, which is physically made evident with his mouth firmly clenched, and he’s either barehanded or wielding a geumgang-jeo (diamond club).

Together, these two characters of “a” and “heng” are meant to symbolize the birth and death of all things. According to myth, all people are born speaking the “a” sound with their mouths open. And when a person dies, they are saying “heng” with their mouths closed. Similar to Jaya-Vijaya in Hinduism, Narayeon Geumgang and Miljeok Geumgang in Buddhism are meant to signify “everything” or “all creation.” And the contraction for both, which is “Om – ॐ,” which in Sanskrit symbolizes The Absolute.

As for their powers, they can use deadly rays of light to defeat those that want to harm the dharma. So Narayeon Geumgang shoots deadly rays of light from its nostrils, while it makes the “heng” sound. While Miljeok Geumgang shoots rays of light from his mouth, while it makes the “ha” sound with its mouth. So while Narayeon Geumgang and Miljeok Geumgang protect the physical world of the temple, they also protect wisdom from ignorance.

Inside Seokguram Grotto in Gyeongju with Narayeon Geumgang (right) and Miljeok Geumgang (left) protectively guarding the entry to the inner chamber (Picture courtesy of Wikipedia).


There are numerous wonderful examples of Narayeon Geumgang and Miljeok Geumgang both as paintings and statues throughout Korea. As for paintings, you can see some great examples at Nojeonam Hermitage in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do; the famed Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju; Silleuksa Temple in Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do; and Beopjangsa Temple in Gyeongju, as well.

As for statues of Narayeon Geumgang and Miljeok Geumgang, you can typically find them inside the Geumgangmun Gate at the entry of the temple grounds. Great examples of these can be found at Magoksa Temple in the Haetalmun Gate in Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do; the entry to the Seokguram Grotto in Gyeongju; and inside the historic Haetalmun Gate at Dogapsa Temple in Yeongam, Jeollanam-do.


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