Guinsa - South Korea
Friday 29 August 2014
Guinsa, in the Yeonhwa area of the Sobaek Mountains located near Danyang in Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea, is the headquarters of the Cheontae school of Korean Buddhism. Guinsa is the administrative center of over 140 sub-temples and hermitages of the Cheontae sect.
Although the architecture of Guinsa follows that of many other Buddhist temples in Korea, it is also markedly different in that the structures are several stories tall, instead of the typical one or two stories that structures in many other Korean temples have. This may be due to the restraints of the valley in which it is located and to modern construction techniques, but it creates a visual experience that is both beautiful and unique from what one sees at other temples.
Up to 10,000 monks can live here at any one point while the kitchen can serve food for twice that number when needed. The ubiquitous black slate roof tiles found commonly on Korean temples is occasionally replaced by orange glazed tiles reminding one of those seen on the roofs of Beijing’s Forbidden City. Some buildings resemble the Potala Palace in Lhasa with their use of height and vertical lines.
The temple maintains and operates a large farm system covering over 60,000 pyeong/198 sq KM/0.689295 sq MI and provides much of the food prepared and consumed at the the temple. Guinsa operates Geumgang University near Wonsan, between Nonsan and Daejeon.
Unlike many of Korea’s temples, Guinsa is fairly new, dating only back to 1945. The temple is strikingly located, squeezed into a narrow valley surrounded on all sides by mountains, and its location was decreed by head monk Sangwol Wongak’s interpretation of the Lotus Sutra.
The original temple was burned down during the Korean War, but the reconstruction of the first building was completed in 1966 and the complex, which now incorporates over 50 buildings, is still expanding.
In 1967 the Cheontae school is reestablished at Guinsa and registered with the Korean government as the Cheontae Order. Master Sangwol assumes his position position as the First Patriarch of the Order.
The 5-Story Dharma Law Hall is completed and becomes the largest building of its kind on Korea.
1982 brings the establishment Geumgang Buddhist College at the Geumgang Institute.