Busan is Korea’s second largest city. It has over four million inhabitants. It is home to some of Korea’s largest ports. Despite being such a large city, it seems to me to be much more relaxed than the capital of Seoul. The people aren’t as pushy as Seoul types often can be. That being said, Seoul is nowhere nearly as bad as any major American city.
Busan has also seen more than its share of history. During the Korean War, Busan was home to millions of refugees who came to escape the fighting. It was just about the only part of South Korean territory which was not taken by the North. During most of the war, South Korea’s de facto capital was Busan. You can tour the old presidential mansion and a number of other places associated with the Korean War.
In the late 16th century, the Japanese, under the leadership of the Shogun Hideyoshi Toyotomi, attacked. They went through Korea burning and pillaging. So many old buildings were destroyed. Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul was burned to the ground. In Busan, Beomeosa Temple, which had been built in the late 7th century by the monk Uisang, was destroyed. After the Japanese were successfully repelled, the city of Busan erected a shrine in honour of those brave men and women who arose in the defense of the city and the nation. It is a Confucian shrine, I suppose. Each year, on May 25th, Confucian ceremonies are performed in honour of those enshrined here. The shrine contains the ancestral tablets of those honoured here. Because this is not a royal shrine or a Buddhist temple, it is not painted in the elaborate manner you often see with those sorts of buildings.
This is the entry gate into the shrine proper.
The Sojuldang (昭茁堂) is a lecture hall where lectures were given praising the great virtue of those who defended the city of Busan.
I love these old buildings, especially the architecture and the beautiful calligraphy.
This is the main building of the shrine. You will also see a number of ancestral tablets inside.
The gardens around the shrine are well-tended and magnificent. There is also a lovely koi pond with some huge fish swimming about. It is a good place to take your children. You’ll see families there and the kids are permitted to feed the fish as long as you use the fish food they supply.
To get to the shrine, take the subway line number 4 to Chungyeolsa station. Take exit number 1 and follow the signs. It’s very close.