By the time I reached Chungcheongbuk Province, I had seen plenty of Korean Buddhist temples, most of them looked the same to me. So when I arrived at Songnisan National Park, and I thought I would just take a quick peak at Beopjusa Temple before hiking.
If there is any temple in South Korea where you can spend hours admiring statues, buildings, and the surroundings, that temple is Beopjusa.
This entrance is actually fairly typical for a traditional Korean Buddhist temple – it’s what’s inside the courtyard which makes the temple so special.
I actually started in a corner of the courtyard, taking my time to take in everything in this one particular spot. Here is a nice Buddha carving, and to the side is natural spring water (many Buddhist temples are built on the sites of natural spings – Beopjusa is no exception).
It’s might easier to appreciate the sheer size of these boulders when you are standing under them.
This temple was established in 553 A.D. It’s been rebuilt many times since there, but it’s also held onto many of its ancient artifacts, making it home to more ‘national treasures’ than almost any other temple in South Korea.
Most of the ancient sculptures featured in the courtyard were built during the time of the United Silla kingdom, in other words, over a thousand years ago.
You have to spend a few minutes looking at every statue, taking in the artistic imagination of whoever made them.
There are more ancient sculptures which I’m not showing photographs of in this post. You do have to spend some time at the temple.
The most outstanding national treasure, of course, is this wooden pagoda, which is the only traditional Korean Buddhist wooden pagoda which is still intact!
Even if it weren’t the only one, it would still be impressive.
Of course, humans aren’t the only ones who make ancient carvings in stone…
Even though this building is not as ancient as many of the things in the courtyard, it is majestic nonetheless.
Oh, and there is a tall 20th century golden Buddha statue. Maybe it says something about the 20th century that they felt they needed to make it so tall and golden before placing it among these ancient treasures…