Gigantic Buddha Statue Towering over Donghwasa Temple

published by Devon Furbush

One cannot talk about Korean culture and religion without acknowledging the impact that Buddhism has had. People from all walks of life (monks and non-Buddhists) can be seen enjoying the peacefulness of Buddhist temple sites. Not only in Daegu, but all over the country you can see hundreds (possibly thousands?) of Buddhist temples and statues with each site priding itself for its own history, individuality, and charm. If you’re up for it you can even try doing a temple stay experience. If you haven’t heard of this place then you’re definitely in for a treat as it is home to one of the world’s largest standing stone Buddha statues.

Donghwasa is more than just a temple

Located deep in the woods of Palgong Mountain, this is more of a cultural complex that’s concentrated on keeping Buddhism traditions alive and flourishing. Founded in 493 by a monk named Geukdal, it was originally named Yukasa Temple. It wasn’t until 832 that it was changed to Donghwasa by royal monk Simji after illustrious foxglove trees flourished around the temple all year round, even in the coldest of winter. Later on, it became one of the three renowned temples of the Beopsang Order of Korean Buddhism.

More than 700 years later, a Buddhist militia headquarters was established here by a great monk named Samyeongdaesa who he constructed Palgong Mountain fortress. This became Yeongnam’s (old Daegu) central operation of command during the Imjin Japanese Invasion in 1592. Taking charge of other temples in the Gyeongsang-do Province, currently it’s the main temple of the 9th Parish of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. In addition, a total of eleven publicly recognized cultural properties and one tangible cultural property are located here.

Flag Poles

A set of two flag poles called ‘dangganju’ was built at the end of the Unified Silla Kingdom. Whenever special events or ceremonies were held at temples, flags were hung on the top to inform the people. In addition, they were also used to mark territory.

Priest Inak's Monument

While most monuments like these used a turtle for the base, Donghwasa had a high admiration for the Phoenix. It isn’t seen the photo, but the base of this small structure is apparently the shape of one.

This enormous statue that towers over the entire Donghwasa Temple complex was built in 1992. It stands at 33m high and it’s frequented by those seeking a peaceful reunification of Korea. The underground Seongbo Museum holds dozens of rare artifacts and cultural assets, including books and portraits of high Buddhist monks. The International Buddhist Culture Center, as well as various cultural programs, is also available.

Even for people who don’t practice religion, it is fascinating to see how Buddhism has cultivated Korean culture for more than 1000 years. Every piece of Donghwasa from the group of stupas to the engraved rock have all played their part in keeping the Buddhist spirit breathing.

Address: 1 Donghwasa 1-gil, Gongsan-dong, Dong-gu, Daegu, South Korea

Dalseong Park (Mud fortress of the Dalgubeol tribe)
Emperor Sun Jong's Sad, Short-lived Reign

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