From Jeonju, take the 79-1 bus, which stops at both bus stations before continuing down Paldallo Street, where it stops outside the branch of KFC next to the Korea Exchange Bank, before continuing down to Pungnammun Gate and Nambu Market, packed even at 8 on a Sunday morning. Terminating at the entrance to the park, the journey takes about half an hour and costs 950 won.
It’s a fifteen minute walk to Geumsansa from the bus stop, past the park entrance (2600 won) and a car park lined with souvenir stands. Entering the temple courtyard by means of a short flight of stairs look to the right for Korea’s only three storey wooden hall, Mireukjeon. Open to the top roof on the inside, the hall is almost entirely filled by three statues – the central future Buddha, Maitreya, rising almost to the very top of the building at nearly 12 metres high. Attendants stand on either side, slightly smaller but no less beautiful.
To the left of Mireukjeon a seven storey pagoda encircled by intricate miniature figures stands at the top of another flight of steps, looking back over the courtyard towards the entrance. Directly opposite Mireukjeon the front doors of the smaller Daejang-jeon are reputed to be 1,200 years old, while a short distance to the right the elongated Daejeokgwanjeon, which houses ten golden statues along its central altar, has been meticulously restored since being destroyed in a 1986 fire.
Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, United Kingdom
July 13, 2004
From journal Where Dynasties Begin