Incinerator BuddhaAlthough temples in Korea (and, indeed, in much of Asia) are sometimes criticised by tourists for being rather alike (leading to the phrase “templed out” when you’ve seen enough roofs and Buddhas for one day), they always make relaxing spots to go spend an hour or so when the weather is nice and you have nothing pressing to do. We thus found ourselves walking over towards the hills just over the road from Ewha (and behind Yonsei), which house Bongwonsa – the head temple of Korean Taego Buddhism. Although we didn’t know it at the time, it was here in 2004 that serial killer Yoo Young-Cheol disposed of the bodies of some of his victims.

Dragon basketballWhile the temple site has been used since the late 9th century, like many ancient monuments in Korea various parts have been destroyed, replaced, spruced up or otherwise improved over the years and the main buildings are currently only around 15 years old. Plenty of the outbuildings have the appearance of being significantly older though, judging from the faded paintwork and rickety doors.

As we were enjoying the spring sunshine, a cat appeared from behind one of the buildings and demanded our attention, rubbing himself against any offered limbs and mewing when we were distracted by something else. He followed us around for a while and then went back to wherever he’d come from, presumably to wait for the next set of receptive tourists. Most of the feral cats I’ve met in Korea have been very wary of humans, and this display of affection was a nice build-up to the animal shelter trip the following day.

BongwonsaTree life support

Bongwonsa water dragonsBongwonsa lanterns