This episode of Korea: Sights and Sounds features Jogyesa Temple.
Seeking a religious tradition? Wonder where the Seoul-based Koreans who are religious but not Christian might be? Are you a Buddhist? Writing a dissertation on Eastern religions/religious art/architecture? Or maybe you just want to see a beautiful temple?
Welcome to Jogyesa Temple (조계사), the center of Zen Buddhism in Korea!
Some of you might think that Japan has a monopoly on Zen Buddhists, but Korea got into the Zen act a looong time ago (even before Japan did). Originally Zen Buddhism is from China (where it’s called Chán), where it formed as an off-shoot of Mahayana Buddhism (which is from India).
Anyway, to get to Jogyesa, go to Anguk Station (안국역), exit 6. When you reach the surface (NATURAL LIIGHT!), turn right.
After you turn right, you will see some vendor stands and then the temple will be straight ahead. You could also go the Gwanghwamun route and go from Gwanghwamun Station (광화문역) exit 3 and follow the signs (as I did) and walk for 20 some minutes; I highly recommend this route if you have nothing particular to do afterwards in order to see the scenery. But if you don’t have time for that, then take the Anguk station route; either way, you’ll see the beautiful temple entrance in the first photo.
And to the right of the entrance of the shrine is a shop selling Buddhist wares (I didn’t go in so I can’t give you a price quote, but it looks pricey).
There were some foreigners (like me!) trapesing around the shrine grounds- most were taking pictures of Big Buddha, but there was this one dude who seemed to be following the service that was occurring inside the main hall.
And now, “Big Buddha(s)”!
If you’re a Buddhist or are just particularly moved by the service or beauty of the temple, you can give an offering in one of the official offering boxes (I’m Christian so I didn’t).
However, my religion did not stop me from giving some cash to help children in need of an education.
Overall, I had a really nice time there and wished that I could have gone inside the main hall. I have a deep respect for spirituality and religion (I guess you could say it runs in the family- my grandfather was a pastor), and was particularly amazed at how quiet the place was on a Friday afternoon in a very bustling, popular area of Seoul. I’m definitely coming back next time (and I’ll take the Anguk path!).
For more information on Jogyesa, visit the respective page on the Korea Tourism Organization’s website.
Credits: Zen (Wikipedia), Dragon Ball Z Abridged (the light joke)