In this post I'm first going to tell you about and show you photos of the Gaeunsa Temple in Anam-dong right down the hill from where I was staying.
Korean Jogye sect of Buddhism. Jogyesa lies in the cultural tourism hub of Insa-dong, where the famous Joseon Dynasty castle-palaces stand. I visited Jogyesa on a Sunday evening and there was still a fair amount of visitors, practicing Buddhists and tourists alike, a testament to this sites importance and popularity. The actual temple part of Jogyesa consists of three large buildings, two of which are shown above. My roommate, Taewon, accompanied me, and using his body as a reference, you can really see the great size of the temple building in the second photo. Yet, despite its status as a tourist magnet, Jogyesa still remains a vital aspect of Buddhist life within Seoul, as well, as can be seen from the bottom two pictures. There we see first an intricately sculpted column on whose bottom rim were hung prayers for ancestors and deceased relatives. Most of these prayers and messages were written in Korean, but some were also in Japanese, Chinese, even Thai. In the bottom picture, I have captured the image of a woman light a ritual candle in prayer. Based on the number of lit candles at the site, there must be people just like this woman lighting ritual candles rather frequently. All in all, it was touching and humbling to see how Buddhism influences not only the community of Anam-dong but also Seoul and beyond.
Sigur Center 2013 Korean Language Fellow,
Korea University, South Korea