Munsusa Temple
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  • Address: 672, Munsu-ri, Toji-myeon, Gurye-gun, Jeollanam-do
  • Tel: +82-61-781-2474
  • Operation Hours:
  • Admission Fees: Free
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  • Introduction
  • User Guide
  • How to get there
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It is said that Munsusa Temple situated in Munsu Valley, Jirisan Mountain was founded in 547 (the 25th year of the reign of King Seong during the Baekje Dynasty) by a Buddhist monk named Yeongi. And records show that it’s also where famous Buddhist monks such as Wonhyo, Uisang, Seosan, and Samyeong practiced.

A portion of the temple was damaged during the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592, and the rest was burnt down during the Korean War. The living quarters for monks were built at the site in 1984, and the building called Gogeumdang Seonwon was built in 1988 at the place where Daeungjeon Hall used to be. So the site began to take the shape of a Buddhist temple once again after these two construction projects. Following the two projects, they built Musujeon Hall, Samseonggak Shrine, Gobongseowon Temple, Bangjanggul Cave, and Seolseondang Hall, as well as a three-story building housing the statue of Buddha on a stone foundation as seen today.

There is an old story about Munsusa Temple, which is dedicated to the Bodhisattva of wisdom called and pronounced "Munsu” in Korean. The temple was where a famous Buddhist monk named Cheongheodang practiced Buddhist meditation when he was a young man. While he was meditating, an old monk dressed like a beggar came and asked him if he could meditate with him. At first, the young monk said no because there wasn’t enough food, but he ended up accepting him after an earnest request from the old monk. The story goes on to tell that they meditated day and night, until one day when the old monk threw his staff at the mountain in front of them, turned it into a yellow dragon, rode it into the fog. After the legendary incident, Munsusa Temple became known as the place where one can attain enlightenment through meditation and enter Nirvana.

But the temple is better known for Asiatic black bears. When you step into the temple compound, you’ll see a cage housing Asiatic black bears. It’s highly unusual, since Buddhist temples don’t even raise a dog. Next to the cage, you’ll see a board explaining how the temple came to raise bears. The temple was given four Asiatic black bears with the request to release them. The temple released two of them, but kept the other two because they're violent. No matter the reason, the bears provide another good reason to visit the temple in Jirisan Mountain.

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