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Donghwasa Temple - 동화사 (桐華寺)

During the Joseon era (1392-1910) Buddhism was heavily persecuted. Monks stayed out of sight to avoid persecution, hiding in remote mountain temples. Donghwasa is a good example. It sits deep in the woods where three small valleys come together. Originally dedicated Yukasa temple by the great priest Kukdal, it assumed the name Donghwasa when the monk Shimji, the great Buddhist teacher, saw the pawlonia (Oh-tong) trees blossoming in the valley. Like most Korean temples, Donghwasa is a cluster of buildings around a central courtyard with the main worship hall facing the center. Known as the Daeungjeon, the hall enshrines statues of various Buddhas flanking the Pharmaceutical Buddha at the center. Built by King Yongjo of the Goryeo dynasty, it exhibits unique architectural detailing such as curved wooden supports, which help harmonize the building with its environment. Colorful wall paintings share the interior with Buddhas poised in scholarly thought.

The eastern portion of the temple is the Geumdang-am hermitage hall, built alongside three small stone pagodas from the Unified Silla Era.

There are numerous hermitage sites scattered throughout the forest near Donghwasa, and many Buddhist images engraved on rocks. Look for them as you ascend the hill to the newer portion of Donghwasa: the National Reunification Temple.

Built in the 1980s by a Buddhist president of Korea, the temple is dedicated to the reunification of the country. Towering over the white marble complex is an enormous Buddha of Reunification, standing amidst a vast courtyard. From here one gets a spectacular view of Palgong mountain.

The entry ticket (below) shows the old temple in the upper-right background and the new temple in the lower-left foreground.

Donghwasa Ticket

Donghwasa entry ticket.


Location: 35.992989' N, 128.704042' E (WGS 84 map datum). Address: 대구 동구 도학동 산124.


All images copyright 1998-2000 Abraham C. Ahn and Timothy M. Ciccone

Kim, Gyeonghui et al. Daegu Yeoksa Gihaeng (Daegu Historical Travels)
  Naratmal Publishers, 1998. Daegu

Kim, Hyo-hyeong. Dapsa Yeohaengui Giljabi 10: Gyeongbuk Bukbu (Travel Survey Guidebook 10: Northern Gyeongbuk)
  Dolbegae Publishers, 1997. Korea

Korean office of Cultural Properties

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Stephen Gitschier posted on Sun Nov 29, 2009 5:29 pm:

I've been there I loved this place I used to go there to meditate when I was stationed there in Deagu. I really enjoyed the time I was lucky to have there. I traveled all over South Korea but the Kyung Ju province is the best in my opinion. The people there were so nice. I'm glad I'm going back there in January of 2010.