Brother-Sister Pagodas
[O-nwi-tap 오뉘탑  or  Nammae-tap 남매탑]
and Gyemyeong-jeongsa Hermitage
November 2005
It's always crowded up here on a good-weather weekend day, because it's a popular 'family' hike up from Donghak-sa
The O-nwi-tap or Nammae-tap [Brother-Sister Pagodas] are a famous feature of northern
Gyeryong-san National Park.  They were built in the Goryeo Dynasty (around 1000 years
ago) by unknown stone-architects on a
hyeol [sacred-energy spot] halfway up the east
face of Sambul-bong, north of Donghak-sa Temple and south of Shinseon-bong.  The
western "brother" is seven stories, while the eastern "sister" was originally five but only
four now remain.  The first storey is unusually high in both.
An old legend says that over 1000 years ago an enlightened monk named Sangwon ("Above
Ordinary", a popular name for temples and hermitages) was meditating on this site when he was
interrupted by a tiger that seemed to be choking.  Sangwon reacted with compassion instead of fear,
found a bone in its throat and removed it.  The tiger left but soon returned bearing a kind of an offering:
a pretty young woman who had been injured while gathering healing herbs on the slopes.  Sangwon
nursed her back to health, and then in gratitude she offered two stay there with him as his wife.  He
refused this because of his monastic vow of celibacy, but told her that instead they could live there like
brother and sister, practicing Buddhism.  Their reputation as Buddhist saints spread, and eventually
reached the ears of the girl's family.  Her wealthy father set out to visit them in this remote place, but by
the time he got there they had both passed away and entered Nirvana.  In tribute to their religious
chastity and enlightenment, the father financed the construction of these two pagodas in their memory.
above & below photos by Catherine Germier-Hamel
Above:  Gyemyeong-jeongsa 계명정사 Hermitage
was built in the 1980s to look after the O-nwi-tap /
Nammae-tap after they were reconstructed by
Buddhist archeologists.  They had lain all alone in
ruins for centuries, and some stones were lost.


Left:  the nearby stone monument inscribed with
the records of the reconstruction.
photo by Catherine Germier-Hamel
An ancient under-boulder-cave, once
used by Shamanists for San-shin
worship & meditation but now
'cleaned out', SE of Shinseon-bong.