삼각산 진관사 三角山 津寬寺
An ancient & historic Temple with interesting artworks
Mt. Samgak-san Jin-gwan-sa [Three-Horns Mountains Moisture Spacious Temple] is a medium-
sized but renowned historic temple located in Eunpyeong-gu District of Seoul City (서울 恩平區), in
a deep narrow valley on the western side of Mt. Samgak-san, inside the Bukhan-san National Park.
It was built in 1011 by the order of King Hyeonjong (顯宗) of the Goryeo Dynasty (高麗, 918–1392)
to honor the great Master Jin-gwan (津寬) who had saved his life before he came to the throne;
Hyeonjong was kicked out of the palace during a power struggle at the age of twelve, and the monk
took him in and cared for him. After he finally became king, he built this temple named after Jin-gwan
to repay him for his kindness. It remained under the special protection of the Goryeo royal family.
During the Joseon Dynasty (朝鮮, 1392-1897) Jin-gwan-sa became one of "the four major temples
surrounding the capital city" Hanyang (漢陽), although it was destroyed by fire and reconstructed
several times. Under the first Joseon King Taejo Yi Seong-gye (太祖 李成桂, r. 1392-98), it
became the host of the national Suryukjae (水陸齋, Sea and Land Ceremony), a predecessor of
the Yeongsan-jae (靈山齋, Vulture Peak Ceremony). This is a large-scale Buddhist ceremony
which provides food and Buddha's teachings to nurture and save ‘Hungry Ghosts’ and other spirits
who inauspiciously wander the lands and seas, traditionally performed every leap year for 49 days.
It has been exclusively practiced in the Seoul area for more than 600 years at this temple, and is
now held annually for heritage preservation.
During the 1950-53 Korean War all the buildings in Jin-gwan-sa were tragically destroyed by bombs,
except for three including the Nahan-jeon (羅漢殿), Myeongbu-jeon (冥府殿) and Chilseong-gak
(七星閣). The remaining buildings contain holy treasure artifacts which were produced from the
late 16th century to the early 20th century, and 36 were designated as Seoul's Cultural Assets.
Another master-monk named Jin-gwan (this time female) became the Juji (住持, Abbot) in 1963
under the Jogye Order (曹溪宗), and for the next 50 years the temple buildings have been restored
to their present-day condition. In 2009, a Korean flag and materials from the 1919 March First
Korean Independence Movement were found in the Chilseong-gak (七星閣, Seven Stars Shrine)
while it was being repaired. What was found is considered to be important historical records of
the Korean Independence Movement against Japan kept by an anti-Japanese monk named
Baek Chowol (白初月, 1878-1944). It is now a temple hosting only bigu-ni (比丘尼, bhikkhuni,
fully ordained female monks, nuns) and offers a Templestay program where visitors can stay
there overnight and experience Buddhist temple culture firsthand.