Gagwonsa Buddhist Temple | Cheonan, South Korea

by Audrey on August 4, 2012

Every once in a while you need to escape your own town and go explore somewhere new, even if you don’t travel very far. That’s how Sam and I ended up in Cheonan; a city that is a mere four stops away on the subway line, yet also lies in a different province. Our first stop: the Giant Statue of Buddha.

Giant Buddha at Gagwonsa Buddhist Temple in Cheonan

Once in the city we boarded a local bus and zipped out to the outskirts of town. Having been dropped off in an empty parking lot at high noon, we began the walk uphill with beads of sweat beginning to form on our faces. We walked past the restaurants, past the noraebang (karaoke room) with a mural of a scandalously clad foreigner, past the shops selling souvenirs, and finally reached the steps that lead up to Mount Taejosan. Once we reached the top, there was a clearing in the landscape, and before us stood the giant statue of Buddha in a shade of green which discreetly blended with the surrounding greenery. So much so that I somehow missed it at first glance!

The statue is by far one of the biggest I have seen to date, though being a newbie in Asia, I am certain that I am in for quite the surprise. This statue of Buddha seated on a lotus pedestal was 15 meters in height, 30 meters in circumference, and his ears were 175cm long, which is almost my height! You could say I was impressed.  As far as temples are concerned, it ranks favourably with some of the best temples in India I visited several years ago.

Gagwonsa Buddhist Temple in Cheonan, Korea

What is special about this temple is that on May 9, 1977 it was designated as a place of prayer for the reunification of North and South Korea. Throughout the day couples and families trickled in to pray, while monks simultaneously conducting their prayers. We watched as people removed their shoes, ascended the steps to the temple, and prostrated themselves before the images and golden statues. Nearby, candles burned and the smell of incense hung in the air.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the temple grounds before returning to town and eating our fill of hodugwaja. Not a bad adventure considering we travelled less than 20 minutes to get there!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Cole @ Four Jandals August 7, 2012 at 9:15 am

I love your fun photos at the end of the video. Very cute 😉

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Nomadic Samuel August 20, 2012 at 12:31 am

Thanks Cole, we have a hard time not being silly it seems 😛

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Mark Wiens August 8, 2012 at 2:35 am

You’re right Audrey, and sometimes we forget (0r put off) to explore the places that are so near to us. That’s a huge statue, great to see Sam walking around the statue taking photos!

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Nomadic Samuel August 20, 2012 at 12:31 am

Thanks Mark, it was a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to exploring more of the temples in SE Asia soon 🙂

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Pamela August 8, 2012 at 4:59 am

I love the video, great idea! Good observation. We’ve been in Chiang Mai for a while and I guess the fact of having everything so close has made us procrastinate and think – Oh, we will go sightseeing tomorrow, to the point that it hasn’t happened yet. Getting off of the couch as I write 🙂 Thanks for the advice!

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Nomadic Samuel August 20, 2012 at 12:30 am

Sometimes I think it is just the fact it is so close that you keep putting it off again and again and again until it is too late.

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Simon August 10, 2012 at 9:03 am

It looks great, with all that dense, green jungle surrounding it. It’s interesting that people go there to pray for the reunification of North and South!

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Nomadic Samuel August 20, 2012 at 12:29 am

Thanks Simon, I found that aspect interesting as well. We didn’t find that out until reading about it later.

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wordylilchacha August 14, 2012 at 11:19 am

we will go to Korea next year and hopefully, we can visit also this one.

I think the atmosphere or the ambiance is worthy enough.

thanks for sharing!

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Nomadic Samuel August 20, 2012 at 12:28 am

Thank you! If you do visit definitely check it out 🙂

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{ Dust & Swallow } August 15, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Thank you for your comment!

Your blog is very cool! I love it! 🙂

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Nomadic Samuel August 20, 2012 at 12:27 am

Thanks!

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Jeremy August 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm

It’s amazing how the statue is almost the same exact color a the forest behind it!

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