Buddhist temples added to Korea's UNESCO Tentative List

Seven traditional Buddhist mountain temples were added to Korea's Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage items in December 2013.

Buddhist temples added to Korea's UNESCO Tentative List
An aerial view of Tongdosa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do (South Gyeongsang
Province) [Credit: Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism]
The newly-listed temples are Seonamsa in Suncheon, Jeollanam-do (South Jeolla Province), Daeheungsa in Haenam, Jeollanam-do (South Jeolla Province), Beopjusa in Boeun, Chungcheongbuk-do (North Chungcheong Province), Magoksa in Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do (South Chungcheong Province), Tongdosa in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do (South Gyeongsang Province), Bongjeongsa in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do (North Gyeongsang Province) and Buseoksa in Yeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do (North Gyeongsang Province).

Over the past two years, the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA), the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, the main order of traditional Korean Buddhism, and cultural heritage experts together came up with a list of temples worthy of such distinction. They conducted field trips nationwide and held a couple of meetings to select the seven traditional mountain temples. The important criteria for selection were whether the temples preserved their original form, whether they are located in the mountains, as is characteristic of Korean temples, whether their architecture is in harmony with the surrounding natural environment and whether the temple holds value as a cultural asset.

Buddhist temples added to Korea's UNESCO Tentative List
Beopjusa Temple in Boeun, Chungcheongbuk-do (North Chungcheong
Province) [Credit: Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism]
These seven temples are the modern embodiment of the thoughts, values, life style and culture of Buddhism in Korea, and proof of the cultural exchange that took place across East Asia through Buddhism, said the CHA. They preserve the original form of Buddhism as originated in India and yet still show the Chinese influence as well as Korean indigenous elements in their architectural style and allocation of space, the CHA added.

Items listed on a country's Tentative List at UNESCO are regarded as holding outstanding universal value. They may be listed as UNESCO World Heritage items after a sufficient amount of research has been conducted and a large amount of data has been collected about them. Items must be on a country's Tentative List for at least one year before they qualify to be considered for nomination onto the World Heritage List.

Buddhist temples added to Korea's UNESCO Tentative List
Buseoksa Temple in Yeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do (North Gyeongsang
Province) [Credit: Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism]
The CHA handed its Tentative List registration form to UNESCO on December 3, 2013. It was uploaded to the official UNESCO site on December 17.

Last October, a series of ancient Korean tombs from the Gaya Kingdom (42-562), known as the Gaya Tumuli of the Gimhae-Haman region, were added to Korea's Tentative List. So far, Korea has listed a total of 18 items on its Tentative List: 14 cultural heritage items and four natural heritage items, including the three new items submitted in 2013.

Source: Hancinema [January 11, 2014]

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