Woljeong-sa in Odae-San

Woljeong-sa is the Home of Manjusri Bodhisattva. Shilla Master Chajang founded this temple, Calm Moon, on Odae-san, a famous mountain in Korea. It was destined to become a famous place for spreading Buddhism. It is located in a thick forest in the east valley of Mt. Odaesan, is one of the head temples of the 4th Jogyejong Sect of Buddhism in Gangwon-do.  The temple supervises 60 other temples and 8 hermitages in the area.


Master Chajang went to China in about 636 because he had a great wish to see Manjusri Bodhisattva on Wutai-shan, the name of a mountain which, when pronounced in Korean, becomes Odae-san. Following the Chinese system there are five plateaux on Odae-san Mountain, part of the T'aebaek Mountain Range on which the principle Bodhisattvas live. Each abode is marked with a hermitage. In the middle there is Saja-am, to the east is Kwanum-am, to the west is Sujong-am, to the south is Chijang-am, and to the north is Miruk-am. There is a story that the two sons of King Chongshin, Poch'on and Hyomyong, each met 50,000 Bodhisattvas on the five peaks. Therefore this place is considered very special.

It is said that on this mountain, Master Chajang chanted before a stone statue of the Bodhisattva beside a pond, hoping to fulfill his long-cherished wish. On the seventh night of his religious practice he had a dream in which the Buddha gave him a poem of four lines. After waking up, he couldn't understand the words because they were in Sanskrit. Next day, a monk came and gave him a robe of the Buddha's, one of the Buddha's bowls and one piece of the Buddha's skull. The monk then remarked that the master looked pale and troubled. Master Chajang explained that he had received a verse he could not understand. The monk explained the verse thus,

Thoroughly to understand all teachings of the Buddha;Selfhood possesses nothing;Understand the teachings in this way; Then you can see Rochana Buddha."

The mysterious monk then told the master to go to Odae-san in Shilla and that there he would find 10,000 Manjusris. After seven more days of chanting, a dragon appeared who told him that the old monk had been Manjusri and that now he must go and build a temple to the Bodhisattva. So he set off for Shilla.

In 643, Chajang reached Odae-san but the mountain was so veiled in fog that he couldn't see anything. During the three days that he waited he stayed in a thatched hut -- this hut became Woljong-sa much later. The master left and went to Wonyung-sa where he finally met Manjusri and recognized the Bodhisattva.

Various masters stayed here for different lengths of time until finally a temple was built. Burnt down and rebuilt a number of times, the last disaster was during the Korean War when about ten buildings were burnt down by the Korean army -- many temples had become refuges for the rebel forces and so they were destroyed.

What to see

Octagonal nine storied pagoda of Woljeong-sa

With the advent of Goryeo, multi-storied polygonal pagodas came to prevail in the northern part of the nation, a departure from the previous square pagodas. This pagoda is representative of such new pagodas of early Goryeo. The pagoda is located at Woljeongsa Temple, which was founded by Buddhist monk Jajangyulsa at the foot of Mt. Odaesan. In front of the pagoda is an image of seated Bodhisattva in adoration.

The nine-story body, with the final on its top, stands on a two-tier foundation. A panel decoration is carved on the lower foundation. A stone slab is installed on the top of each foundation. Unlike most other pagodas whose bodies grow notably shorter from the bottom upward, each body of this pagoda maintains almost the same height from the second story. The octagonal roof stones are simply trimmed without stepped cornices. Wind-bells are hanging from the corners of the slightly upturned eaves. The final, in complete condition, comprises two portions. The gilt bronze upper portion and stone lower portion add to the pagoda's beauty.

Overall proportions and outstanding sculpturing make the pagoda a representative example of the aristocratic splendor of the Buddhist art of Goryeo. In addition, bronze wind-bells and the gilt bronze final provide much insight into the excellent metalwork of the period.

Name of Cultural Properties

Woljeongsapalgakgucheungseoktap (Octagonal nine storied pagoda of Woljeongsa Temple).

This pagoda, made in the early Goryeo period (918-1392), is representative of the polygonal pagodas that prevailed in the northern part of Korea during Goryeo. It has a two-part octagonal foundation with a coverstone for each part. The lotus petals and the decorative patterns on the lower part are carved in a typical Goryeo style. The pedestal of the pagoda, the niches on the body and the flat roofstones are also typical of the time. While the flatness of the roofstones and the bodies create an impression of stability, the upward curves at the corners of the roofs, the niches on the body, and the octagonal variation of each part work together to make the pagoda a good example of the aristocratic splendor of the Buddhist art of Goryeo.

The Main Hall

The Main Hall, according to its name, should enshrine a Vairocana Buddha. Instead there is a statue of Sakyamuni but the more important statue is of an unusual Bodhisattva, 1.8 meters high, probably a Medicine Bodhisattva, National Treasure No. 139. Said to have been found in the Diamond Pond to the south of the temple, the statue is offering something. The story of this Bodhisattva originates from the Lotus Sutra. The head is covered with a hat, the face is long and the ears are slightly hidden by long hair. Around the neck there are three lines which are so beautifully carved that they look like necklaces. The elbow is resting on the head of a young boy. Because of its unusual style, the statue is thought to have been carved in the 11th century by craftsmen belonging to a special sect; it is therefore important to the history of carving.

About Odae-san

Forming the origin of the Han River, Odae-san gets relatively few visitors compared to the more famous Deorak-san and Jiri-san mountains. Yet the park is very beautiful as the East part resembles Seorak-san and the West part resembles Jiri-san. It is especially famous for its thick fir tree forest. The valley, where snow doesn't melt until May, is clean and the taste of the mineral water flowing on the way to Jeogmyeolbo-gung, passing Sangwol-san is something that visitors will never forget. Strolling with close friends along the natural walk through the valley located next to Woljeong-sa entrance, where the thick fir forest, clear water, and fir tree scent will create many happy memories.


63-1, Dongsan-ri, Jinbu-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do. S.KOREA.
Tel: 033-332-6664

By Bus
Take a local bus from Jinbu-myoun to the temple. It's a 20 min. ride and runs 12 times/day (at 6:20, 7:40, 8:30, 9:30, 10:40, 11:40, 12:40, 14:10, 15:30, 16:30, 18:20, 19:40).

By Car
Exit at Jinbu Interchange and make a left turn at the first 3-way junction onto National Road No. 6 toward Jumunjin. Drive for about 4 km and you will get to the Woljeong 3-way junction (There is Woljeong Gas Station to the side). Turn left and drive for 4 km. You will get to Byungan 3-way junction. Turn left and drive for another 4 km to the parking lot of the Woljeongsa. The temple is located in a forest of fir trees.

The fee is included in admission to park.