Pyochungsa Temple has been renamed several times but has not lost its luster. Though the paint was cracking it was pleasant to see a temple that showed its age. The temple is located on Jaeyaksan, a mountain in the Yeongnam Alps range that runs through the districts of Ulsan, Miryang and Cheongdo in Gyeongsangnam-do in the south of the country. This particular mountain offers sights ranging from waterfalls to temples and even has an Ice Valley, though I haven’t seen it.
The original story has it that in 654, the Great Priest Wonhyo was meditating nearby and saw some very ominous clouds covering a bamboo field on Jaeyaksan. Then and there he decided a temple needed to be erected on that spot and was to be called Jungnimsa, or “bamboo forest temple”. The name was later changed in 829 when the third son of King Heungdeok suffered a stroke and drank the water from a well at the temple. He was subsequently cured of all ailments and decided the name of the temple should be changed to Yeongjeongsa, or “temple of the eternal well”. The temple stood for hundreds of years and then was burnt down, like many temples in Korea, during the Japanese Invasions in 1592. That same year Monk Hyejing set to rebuilding the temple and renamed it Pyochungsa.
Upon being rebuilt, the eighth generation grandchild of Samyeong, the Zen Priest Cheonyu, moved three portraits, one of Samyeong, one of Cheongheo and one of Giheo to the site. These three men devoted their lives to patriotism and thus this temple became a site reflecting the merging of Buddhist and Confucian philosophies.
The large dusty square in the center of the complex was covered with meandering children and families enjoying the mountain air on the weekend that we visited. Vendors sat hawking traditional Korean toys and trinkets, such as the “love stick” or stick to hit your child with lovingly to punish them, among other things. It’s not a temple to go out of your way to see, but is worth a visit when in the area hiking. It’s a good resting spot on a day in the countryside.
경상남도 밀양시 단장면 구천리 31-2
31-2 Gucheon-ri Danjang-myeon Miryang-si Gyeongsangnam-do, Korea