Fun in Danyangun: Fishing, temples and a lot more

by Megan Fox
SeoulMates
Danyangun is a resort location in North Chungcheong, South Korea. It is surrounded by three national parks which house a lake, scattered caves and temples. On a recent weekend the city hosted an angler fishing tournament for locals. I attended the tournament accompanied by guest speaker Alan Timblick. We spent the weekend touring the area and viewing the contest.
 
Danyangun is a beautiful and clean area located two hours by bus from Seoul. It is 83.6%  mountainous, full of picturesque 
scenery and an ideal resort location for hiking and paragliding. The rivers and lakes provide ample opportunities for water sports.  Upon arriving in the area, it is easy to notice the difference in air quality from Seoul (partially as a result of the limited manufacturing in the area).
 
Angler fishing has long been identified as a part of the area’s culture. To continue to educate locals in this tradition, the town hosts a semi-annual fishing tournament. Korea has a unique style of angler fishing referred to as Gyeonji. To fish effectively, using this style, one must be submerged in the water or on a raft. The anglers utilize a rod called a GyunJi which consists of a short pole and web-like square at its base. Fishing string and a hook are attached to the web and fishermen stand in the water upstream with the string flowing downstream. The style has been practiced in Korea for hundreds of years with documentation tracing it back to at least 1764. Visitors to the festival can watch locals of all ages perfecting the skill of Gyenoji fishing.
 
Located near Danyang in the Sobaek Mountains is Guinsa Temple. Guinsa translates to “Temple of Salvation and Kindness”. It is an administrative center with over 140 sub-temples and heritages of the Cheontae sect. The many elements of the temple transform the area into its own village, tucked quietly into the mountains. The scale is so grand that 10,000 monks can live here at any point. Guinsa is largely self sufficient. A large farm system allows monks to grow their own food which they prepare and consume within the temple.
 
The temple’s construction follows architecture styles similar to most Buddhist temples in Korea. Uniquely, it’s structures are multiple stories high, in contrast to the one or two story temples that make up the majority of those in Korea. This gives the temple a unique design and makes for a very beautiful site.
 
The main building in Guinsa is the 5-Story Dharma Law Hall. The floors consist of meditation halls, shrines and prayer rooms. Housed on the hall’s roof is Daejosajon or the Great Teacher Hall. From this area beautiful views of the  temple complex, surrounding mountains and valleys can be seen without obstruction. During our visit, it was a spectacular place to observe the Fall foliage.
 
For a weekend get-away I highly recommend taking a trip to Danyangun. It’s many natural attractions should not be missed. Guinsa Temple is like no other! For more information in English http://english.dy21.net/english
Buses are available from Seoul every hour. The trip takes approximately two hours.

 

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