In Korea, there are many temples and they are Buddhist temples. Korean Buddhism has long history since introduced to Korea in the 4th century. It had been state religion for a long time until the Joseon Dynasty. Under the Joseon period, Buddhism was suppressed by the new government.
Therefore they moved into the deep mountain to avoid the strong suppression. That’s why temples remind me of mountains. Most of temples are placed in the mountain. But, there are some big temples in the center of this city, Seoul.
I would pick three famous temples, Bongeunsa, Jogyesa and Gilsangsa. Bongeunsa in Gangnam-gu and Jogyesa in Jongno-gu both have the more than a thousand-year-old history. Otherwise, Gilsangsa is very young temple, just 20 years old, and it has interesting story.
Gilsangsa located on the southern side of Mt. Samgaksan. There was a high-class restaurant(Yojeong) named Daewongak. Yojeong is a place where powerful men such as politicians and military generals used to go to be entertained by gisaeng (Korean geisha).
The owner of Daewongak was Kim Yeonghan(1916-1999). She born under Japanese colonial period and became gisaeng when she was only 16 years old. Her sad love story with a young poet, Baek Seok, is famous. He called her as Jaya. He recited the poem, ‘Me, Natasha and a White donkey’ for his lover, Jaya.
In her old age, she was deeply moved and donated the land and buildings, which was worth 100 billion won, to Monk Beopjeong Sunim after reading his famous book “Non-possession.” She received her Buddhist name, Gilsanghwa. And the temple’s name is Gilsangsa.