Korea in Photos
Comments 4

How A Head Monk Lives


Gumgang Sunim from Mihwangsa Temple is an uomo universale. He is head monk, tea ceremony master, writer, calligrapher, and historian.

My mother first met him when he came to India to give a demonstration of dayeh, Korean tea ceremony. He had been invited by a Japanese artist and tea ceremony performer. So this week, as my mom is in the country, we drove together with a family friend to Mihwangsa, located at the Southernmost tip of the Korean peninsula (this article was scheduled for June 13th, but somehow got backtracked).

Mihwangsa Daewoongjeon (Main Hall) with Dharma Mountains at the back

IMG_7791Living quarters for templestay guests

Gumgang Sunim is head monk at Mihwangsa. This means that he oversees the temple’s daily schedule, runs rituals and celebrations, receives guests, consoles grieving parents, and, I’m guessing, also takes care of the finances. In addition to all this, he of course has to keep studying Buddhist texts and analysing them, I suppose.


This entry was posted in: Korea in Photos


Internationally lost since 2000, Emily was born in Seoul, raised in India, and has been living and studying in France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands since 2014. A translator and interpreter by profession, she enjoys talking and debating just about anything.


    • bombfrompluto says

      Hey GR! Good to see you here! 😀
      Mihwangsa is a really old temple dating back to 749 (Silla Dynasty).
      Legend says it was started with visitors who came from India (wow).

      • grotesqromance says

        :3 Your Welcome Pluto!
        Almost 1300 years old then, and yet its still keeping its shape, and beauty 😉
        wow, never thought of that, hehe

      • bombfrompluto says

        Really, really old!
        The head monk told me that only the temple had been abandoned for a long time and only the main building remained when he started reconstructing in the 1990s. If you look at it, it’s not polished or waxed wood, so it’s just left the way it was when first built.
        Most Korean temples are painted on a regular basis, like this:

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