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English | Explore the Legacies of Anseong’s Buddhist Culture

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Author Jogye On06-07-24 19:57 Views17,794 Comments0


For the Korean people, Buddhism is not just a religion. It is an integral part of the nation’s history and culture. While an increasing number of international visitors take part in a temple stay as a way to experience Buddhism, staying and meditating in a temple is not the only way to enjoy the cultural legacies of Buddhism in Korea. On this edition, we take you to explore the culture and valuable legacies of Buddhism in a theme trip organized by the Temple Stay Division of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. By visiting the stone Buddhas and pagodas, you will be able to explore Buddhism culture of the Silla and Goryeo eras.

This theme trip was designed as an alternative to temple stays and combines Buddhism culture and tourism. Our destination is Anseong, a city of long Buddhism history, and some members of the foreign media joined us on this trip.

• To view major temples in Korea
• What is a Temple Stay?

< Statues of Buddha Seem to Live and Breathe >
As soon as we arrived in Anseong, we went to view the Standing Buddha of Maesan-ri and the five-storied pagoda in Juksan-ri, both dating back to the Goryeo period. The pagoda, in fact, is registered as National Treasure no. 435. The Maesan-ri Buddha is characterized by uniquely disproportionate eyes, nose, and mouth. Complete with the tall crown typical of the period, the face is also characteristic of Goryeo Buddha images.
Maesan-ri Standing Buddha Juksan-ri Five-storied Pagoda
How to Get There
Maesan-ri Standing Buddha, Juksan-ri Five-storied Pagoda
From Anseong Intercity Bus Terminal, take bus 37 or 38 and get off at Juksan-myeon Bus Terminal.
Anseong is also home to two statues known as the Standing Buddhas of Gisol-ri, or Ssangmireuk (paired Buddhas). Five meters in height, they are among the largest Buddha figures of the early Goryeo period. A few of these rare stone sculptures are found in this region, and serve as valuable for studying Goryeo-era standing Buddhas.
Gisol-ri Standing Buddhas Daenong-ri Standing Buddha Ayang-dong Standing Buddha
How to Get There
Gisol-ri Standing Buddhas/Ssangmireuk: Three daily bus departures from downtown Anseong (6:30, 14:00, 18:00)
Daenong-ri Standing Buddha: Anseong Intercity Bus Terminal → Take a bus at the bus stop for Daenong-ri
(4 daily departures, 7:30, 9:15, 12:30, 19:30)
Ayang-dong Standing Buddha: Take a right into the cemented road at the Woori Bank intersection of Anseong Intercity Bus Terminal and walk 100 meters.
Anseong’s awe-inspiring stone statues convey a sense of living, breathing beings. They do not seem to have common features and the facial expressions vary from generosity to humor, a reflection of the times.

< Commanding and Splendid Temples >
The first temple we reached was Chiljangsa Temple, probably built during the Silla Dynasty. Located at the foot of Mt. Chilhyeonsan, the cozy old retreat shone under the bright summer sun, brightening our hearts. The paint on the main hall, Daeungjeon, had peeled away to reveal the natural wood tones and charm of an old building.

Origin of the Name of the Temple : Since the 11th century, the mountain has been called Chilhyeon (seven wise men) based on a legend that the monk Hyesoguksa redeemed and converted seven criminals, who stayed at the temple Chiljang, and became wise men. The temple is a treasure trove of invaluable cultural assets such as Hyesoguksabi Monument, honoring the monk’s achievements, and Cheoldanggan.
Chiljangsa Temple Hyesoguksabi Monument
Tale of Hyesoguksabi Monument : Next to the Hyesoguksabi Monument is a turtle with a dragon’s head. Atop the turtle’s shell is the spot on which to place the monument and carved clouds surround it. The turtle seems to be flying to paradise with the monument on its back, expressing the sublime creativity of ancient Korean artisans. The Hyesoguksabi Monument is cracked down the middle. Legend has it that when Japanese commander Kato came to the temple during the Imjin War, an old monk appeared and reprimanded him. The infuriated commander took out his sword and struck the monk. Hyesoguksa disappeared and the monument cracked, spilling blood, and Kato fled in terror.
How to Get There: Chiljangsa Temple
Anseong Intercity Bus Terminal → Take a bus for Juksan and get off at Juksan → Take a bus or taxi to Chiljang-ri
Next, we went to Seoknamsa Temple, which is deep in the woods. We arrived late at night and enjoyed a cup of tea with the principal monk. Since it was the first time any of us had slept in a temple, we felt a sense of amazement as though we had escaped the mundane world and were one with nature. The next day, we got up at 4am for Buddhist prayers and meditation. After purifying our minds, we took a walk around the temple and breathed in the fresh air of the early morning. We could almost feel our hearts being cleansed.
Seoknamsa Temple The Inside of Seoknamsa Temple
How to Get There: Seoknamsa Temple
Anseong Intercity Bus Terminal → Take a bus for Sangjung-ri at the bus stop in front of old Housing Bank (Jutaek Eunhaeng) in downtown Anseong (Bus every one hour)
Our last stop was Cheongnyongsa Temple. Still preserving the ruins of the original buildings from the Goryeo period, the simple traditional ambience of this small temple made us all feel welcome and relaxed. The main hall, or Daeungjeon, has been designated national treasure no. 824. A notable feature of the hall is the natural curve of the wooden support beam, which creates a beautiful impression.
Cheongnyongsa Temple The Inside of Cheongnyongsa Temple
How to Get There: Cheongnyongsa Temple
Anseong Intercity Bus Terminal → At the bus stop for Seoun-myeon, take a bus for Cheongnyongsa Temple (10 daily departures)

< The Origin of Namsadang Nori >
Our visit to Anseong gave us the opportunity to see a Namsadang performance. During the late Joseon period, a troupe of performers called Namsadang visited marketplaces and villages to dance, sing, and perform. Originating in Anseong and considered Korea’s first group of itinerant entertainers, Namsadang is designated as Important Intangible Cultural Asset no. 3. The Namsadang Performing Arts Center was dedicated to preserve this traditional heritage. Since the success of the Korean movie The King and the Clown, public interest in Namsadang performances has grown steadily. The highlight of a Namsadang performance is the tightrope dance, which draws exclamations from all spectators. It is highly recommended to all international travelers visiting Korea. In combination with temple stay programs, promotion of the Buddhist culture trip will be focused on local and international visitors. Our trip was a great opportunity to explore fascinating yet unfamiliar Buddhist culture and visit some precious cultural sites.

[Related Articles]
• Anseong Namsadang Nori
• Anseong Baudeogi Festival
• Movie: The King and The Clown
Tallori (Korean traditional masked-dance drama) Tightrope Walking
Visitor Information
Visitor Information:
Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism: Tel) 02-2011-1856
www.dharmanet.net (Korean)
eng.koreatemple.net (English)

Anseong City Culture & Tourism Department: Tel) 031 -673-8200
tour.anseong.go.kr/english/introduce/intro.html (English)


(03144) 55, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Republic of KoreaTEL : 82-2-2011-1830FAX: 82-2-735-0614E-MAIL: jokb@buddhism.or.kr