Posted by: rbbadger | July 28, 2011

Museum of Won Buddhism

As far as religion goes, Korea is quite diverse.  Along with Buddhism and Christianity, there are a number of new religious movements.  The first of these, Cheondogyo, was founded in the 1840.  It attracted a number of followers.  If I’m not mistaken, King Gojong was sympathetic to it. 

One of the most successful of these movements is Won Buddhism.  Won Buddhism is headquartered in Iksan, North Jeolla Province and is not far from Jeonju.  Founded in the early 20th century by Pak Chung-bin, better known to his followers as Master Sotaesan, it has spread throughout the country.  There are some Won Buddhist temples in other countries as well.  For those who have an interest in new Korean religious movements, I reccommend visiting the headquarters in Iksan.  The Prime Dharma Master resides there.  The graduate school which trains leaders of Won Buddhism is also there. 

They also have a radio network, namely WBS Radio.  The symbol of Won Buddhism is a circle.  In their temples, there are no Buddha statues.  Rather, there is just the circle which symbolizes the Dharma.

There are two pagodas, one containing the ashes of the founder of Won Buddhism and the other containing the ashes of his successor, Master Chungsan.

Here is the museum proper.  Most of the signage is in Korean, though.

Here is an image of something important to Won Buddhists, namely the doctrinal chart.  The bag in front is a travelling bag belonging to the founder.  This chart highlights the essential teachings of the founder.

Here is an altar of the sort one would find in Won Buddhist temples today.  Note the absence of Buddha statues. 

They also had photos of the clerical dress of other religions in Korea.  They had a cassock for the Catholics, a minister’s gown for the Protestants, and monastic attire for the Buddhists.  Additionally, there are depictions of the clerical garb of the leaders of Cheondogyo and Won Buddhism.

There is also a huge statue of the founder of Won Buddhism inside the museum.  Here is Master Sotaesan in meditation.  There are also murals of him as well.

Finally, we have a pulpit used by the founder.  Buddhist monks traditionally give their sermons while seated.



  1. Is this close to where you live? Why has no one else used a plain circle for anything? That’s so great and I’d never thought of it. Weird. Not because all great thoughts come from me, but it’s so simple it blows my mind I never thought of it. Now I sound weird. Oh well. How’s everything? How was your birthday? We missed you at the reunion!

  2. Everything has been a bit interesting lately. Busy, stressful and so forth. I’ll tell you more later.

    Anyhow, the plain circle is used in regular Buddhism, too. However, the Won Buddhists are the only ones who have replaced the Buddha statue with it and made the circle their standard of practice. I don’t personally know any Won Buddhists, but I know a lot of regular Buddhists.

    Iksan is about a half hour away from Jeonju.

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