Adventures of an American Seoul-Sister

Adventures and Observations of an American Seoul-Sister

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chungnyeolsa: Shrine of General Im Gyeongeup

On a long Sunday bike ride southwest of Chungju, in search of a nearby art village, I happened upon a Buddist temple with many beautiful statues of the Awakened One.  Some were only an inch tall, but this golden statue stood about 30 feet tall.

The temple itself was quite lovely, but I didn't take a picture out of respect for the people praying inside.  I did take this lovely pic of the ajoining shrine that was not in use at the time.

Reembarking on my quest for the art village, I lucked upon an incredible shrine honoring the heroic General Im Gyeongeup.  Born in Chungju in 1594 and trained in the martial arts by Buddhist monks, the General is famous for protecting Korea from several invading peoples, including the Manchus.  The General is also said to have been able to single-handedly lift giant boulders and to leap with ease from vertigo-inducing heights.  He suffered a political assassination in 1644.  Given the posthumous, honorary title of Chungmin and enshired just outside the modern city of Chungju, he remains one of Korea's great heros.  The shrine included many buildings centered around the main shrine (including a small museum containing his original iron sword) and a small coy pond.  Walking the grounds, I very much felt as though I had been thrown in to the pages of a National Geographic magazine.

This colorful building is the Buddhist temple on site.  Although you can't see it in this pic, the entire ceiling was also richly painted in bright hues.

Main gate leading up to the shrine.

This is the actual shrine where I lit incense in honor of the General and signed the guestbook.  According to the guestbook, I was only the third white person to have visited the shrine this year, although hundreds of Koreans have stopped by to pay their respects.

I continued biking along the outskirts of Chungju, searching for the art village.  After several hours of nearly fainting from the sweltering heat, I finally found it.  It turned out to be a small elementary school that offered art classes to students.  It was closed for the summer. 


  1. thanks for sharing
    total bummer about elementary school classes being closed,
    I admire your adventurous spirit

  2. I love the setting of the green hills and trees etc. it seems so surreal and quaint!!

  3. As a great, great, great, etc.- grand daughter of Gen. Im, loved seeing and reading about this. Thanks for sharing.