Beopjusa, Keeper of Ancient Buddhist Art

To the left is a large tree with red leaves. In the upper center is white sky, to the right in the distance are some tall pine trees and a couple of trees with red leaves. further in the distance, at ground level, is a wooded shelter for an ancient basin, and further beyond is the wooden pagoda, with mountains in the background.

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.


This map shows that Chungcheongbuk Province is in the center of South Korea, and that Songnisan National Park is in the southern part of Chungcheongbuk Province

If there is any temple in South Korea where you can spend hours admiring statues, buildings, and the surroundings, that temple is Beopjusa.

There is a rectangular wooden building, with red walls and detailed greenish painting under the roof, and a black tile roof - this is the entrance to the temple.

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.

A giant rock has a carving of a Buddha sitting on a lotus, with a small platform underneath for candles. The carving is partially lit by sunlight, and above is a mostly clear blue sky

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).

There is a HUGE rock with a face angled downards and inward (people could stand under it) with Chinese writing carved onto the rock

It’s might easier to appreciate the sheer size of these boulders when you are standing under them.

There is a wooden pavilion protecting a stone ancient relic, and behind it is a collection of green, yellow, and red trees, as well as a giant boulder. In the upper left you can see a partially clear sky.

A giant, ancient stone cauldron sits in the sunlinght under its protective wooden roof. The sides of the cauldrom have engravings like lotus petals, and imaginative shapes within the petals.

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.

A close-up of an ancient stone lantern, with a lotus-flower base and the carving of one of the four guardians of Buddhism above.

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.

An ancient stone statue of a woman holding a platform above her head with a lotus-shaped cup on top of the platform.

You have to spend a few minutes looking at every statue, taking in the artistic imagination of whoever made them.

An ancient stone lantern which is being held up by two stone animals standing on their hind legs.

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.

We see the six story pagoda at a 45 degree angle from the entrace, and a clear blue sky above.

The most outstanding national treasure, of course, is this wooden pagoda, which is the only traditional Korean Buddhist wooden pagoda which is still intact!

A closer view of the wooden pagoda, in the sunlight, looking up.

Even if it weren’t the only one, it would still be impressive.

There is a rock face with many details carved in by natural forces, with green and red trees forming a border around it

Of course, humans aren’t the only ones who make ancient carvings in stone…

On the left is a tree with yellow leaves and, in the highest reaches, two brown birds' nests. Below the tree with see tiny figures, which are people. On the right is the dharma hall, the largest building in the temple.

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…

To the left is the five story traditional wooden Korean pagoda, and to the right is the tall golden statue of Buddha. Behind the giant Buddha is green hillside, and above is a partially cloudy sky. Below the Buddha we see tiny people, and thus realize just how tall the pagoda and the Buddha really are.


About Sara K.

Sara K. is an aromantic asexual from California who has previously lived in Taiwan. She blogs at the notes which do not fit, has previously been a contributor at Manga Bookshelf, and has written guest posts for Hacking Chinese. She enjoys reading, travel, live theatre, learning languages, and gardening.
This entry was posted in Ancient History, Chungcheongbuk, Mostly Photos, National Park, Temple and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Beopjusa, Keeper of Ancient Buddhist Art

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