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The Jeokmyeolbogung Shrine that holds a sarira from the Sakayamuni Buddha is located in the forests of Odaesan Mountain in Pyeongchang-gun County. (Cultural Heritage Administration)

By Kang Gahui and Hahm Hee-eun

The Jeokmyeolbogung Shrine (적멸보궁) was designated as an official National Treasure on July 4. Located at Woljeongsa Temple (월정사), the shrine is one of the five temples in Korea that enshrine sariras, pearl-shaped cremated remains, of the Sakayamuni Buddha. The sariras were brought to Korea by the monk Jajang (자장, 慈藏) (590-658) after returning from Tang China.

The Cultural Heritage Administration announced that the Jeokmyeolbogung Shrine, which is already listed as Tangible Cultural Property No. 28 of Gangwon-do Province, is to become National Treasure No. 1,995.

The Jeokmyeolbogung Shrine is located 1,189 m above sea level in the forests of Odaesan Mountain, and it faces the southeast. Ever since the monk Jajang brought the sariras, the shrine has been a center of religious practices and a sacred Buddhist sanctuary at Odaesan Mountain.

The structure of the shrine consists of two buildings, inside and outside. The Cultural Heritage Administration said that, “The Jeokmyeolbogung Shrine has a unique structure that is not found at any other treasures across Korea.”

Meanwhile, the five temples in Korea that enshrine the sariras of the Sakayamuni Buddha are Tongdosa Temple at Yangsan Mountain in Gyeongsangnam-do Province, Woljeongsa Temple at Odaesan Mountain in Gangwon-do Province, Bongjeongam Temple at Seoraksan Mountain, Jeongamsa Temple at Taebaeksan Mountain and then Beopheungsa Temple at Sajasan Mountain.

kgh89@korea.kr