Temple reveals timeless devotion to Buddhism

Posted : 2019-01-28 14:19 Updated : 2019-01-30 10:12

In Seonam Temple located in the foothills of Mount Jogye in South Jeolla Province, every small thing seems to form a bigger picture that Mother Nature has created, from rolling small cobbles on the unpaved road to a little stream, a tree trunk scorched by lightning strike and walls revealing clay and straw that has been standing for over a thousand years.

Unlike bigger temples that overwhelm visitors, Seonam Temple, the head temple of the Taego Order, boasts of modest and time-honored beauty. The historic temple, constructed by Doseon in 875, has no vivid decorations or majestic Four Heavenly Kings statues guarding devotees.

The temple is one of seven traditional Korea mountain temples, which were inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage list last June, along with Tongdo Temple in Yangsan, Beopju Temple in Boeun and other mountain monasteries, in recognition of their "outstanding universal value" for their persistence since the seventh century along with the long, deep-rooted history of Buddhism in Korea. "These mountain monasteries are sacred places, which have survived as living centers of faith and daily religious practice to the present," UNESCO said in a statement.


A monk waits to beat a big drum called beopgo, signaling for the start of the evening prayer session. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Seonam Temple in South Jeolla Province. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Seonam Temple in South Jeolla Province. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Seonam Temple in South Jeolla Province. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Monks in Seonam Temple in South Jeolla Province. Korea times photo by Choi Won-suk

Ven. Haemahn, a Polish monk, preaching Korean Buddhism in his homeland. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Monks in evening prayer session at Seonam Temple in South Jeolla Province. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Monks in evening prayer session at Seonam Temple in South Jeolla Province. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

A monk waits to beat a big drum called beopgo, signaling for the start of the evening prayer session. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

A monk beats a big drum called beopgo, signaling for the start of the evening prayer session. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Seonam Temple in South Jeolla Province. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Seonam Temple in South Jeolla Province. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Seonam Temple in South Jeolla Province. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

A monk walks through the grounds of Seonam Temple in South Jeolla Province Korea times photo by Choi Won-suk

Seonam Temple in South Jeolla Province. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

A fish-shaped wind chime hangs from the exterior corner of Seonam Temple in South Jeolla Province. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Seungseongyo at Seonam Temple in South Jeolla Province. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Geumdun Temple in South Jeolla Province, Jan. 22. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Flowers bloomed at Geumdun Temple in South Jeolla Province, Jan. 22. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Geumdun Temple in South Jeolla Province, Jan. 22. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

A bloomed flower lies in an empty tea cup on the rock at Geumdun Temple in South Jeolla Province, Jan. 22. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Geumdun Temple in South Jeolla Province, Jan. 22. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Ven. Jiheo makes tea with wild green tea leaves he cultivated and roasted himself. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Ven. Jiheo makes tea with wild green tea leaves he cultivated and roasted himself. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Ven. Jiheo walks through the grounds of Geumdun Temple in South Jeolla Province, Jan. 22. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Tea garden at Geumdun Temple in South Jeolla Province, Jan. 22.