Haedong Yonggung Temple & The Seaside Views
Buddhist temples are not terribly difficult to stumble upon while in Korea. There are temples in the middle of Seoul daring those that enter to just try and find quiet solitude and there are temples dotting the mountains across the country so any hike becomes that much more interesting with the addition of a tour of one.
Rarely, though, do you find a seaside temple in Korea. Haedong Yonggung Temple (해동용궁사), which means Korean Dragon Palace Temple, is probably the most popular and widely known seaside temple in the country and truly does live up to the hype that brings so many visitors to its gates.
First founded in 1376 by venerable monk Naong, an advisor to King Gongmin, during the Goryeo Dynasty, it was destroyed like so many others during the Japanese invasions and the one currently standing wasn’t rebuilt until the 1930s with additions added on in the 70s and 2000s. The temple was originally named Bomun Temple (보문사), but upon reconstruction headed by the venerable monk Ungang, it was renamed Haedong Yonggung Temple.
Twelve statues representing the twelve signs of the zodiac first welcome visitors toward the temple followed by a nine story pagoda ushering people through a golden dragon gate leading to steps that lead to the coast. Down the lantern lined 108 steps that represent the 108 agonies of earthly desire of Buddhism, visitors come to a bridge that leads to the main temple complex. Numerous statues and shrines including a large golden dharma smiling broadly, a granite statue of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Gwanseeum-bosal, and the Yacksayeorae Healing Buddha sit around the complex and beckon those that have traveled to this spot to take in a few moments of silence in between the crowds of tourists as well as get in some photos. Every angle of this temple is beautiful and provides some great scenic views.
If you’re visiting Busan and happen to be at the far eastern end of the city, this is a must see.
Haedong Yonggung Temple (해동용궁사)
부산광역시 기장군 기장읍 시랑리 416-3
416-3 Silang-ri Gijang-eup, Gijang-gun, Busan, Korea
Subway: Take the subway to the last stop on the green line, Jangsan Station and from there either catch bus 181 or grab a taxi to the temple.
Bus: 181, walk up a road about 500 meters that leads to the temple. It’s the only road around so it can’t be missed.
Amenities: restrooms, food, souvenir shops, parking lot