Jongnung Temple

Jongnung Temple

Jongnung Temple.

The Jongnung temple, situated in Ryongsan-ri, Ryokpho District, Pyongyang, dates back to the time of Koguryo (277 BC-AD 668).

It was erected at the beginning of the 5th century when the tomb of King Tongmyong (Ko Ju Mong), the founder of Koguryo, was moved to this place so as to pray for the repose of his soul.

The Mausoleum of King Tongmyong

The Mausoleum of King Tongmyong.

Visible on a hill just behind the temple is a thick grove of pine trees which are hundreds of years old, and located in the wood is the Mausoleum of King Tongmyong.

Originally, the Jongnung Temple ranged 132.8 metres from north to south and 223 metres from east to west, covering an area of about 30 000 square metres.

In the temple there were 18 houses, an octagonal well and so on in a good order with an octagonal wooden pagoda at the centre.

In addition, the temple was surrounded by a corridor on all sides. An inner gate, a pagoda, Kumdang (a shrine housing Buddhist images), Kangdang (a hall for giving lectures for preaching Buddhism and holding ceremonies), etc., were set up on the central axis from north to south and the Ryonghwa Hall, Kungnak Hall and other buildings made for people to live in were erected symmetrically on either side of the pagoda.

This type of layout is the same as the Kumgang Temple, which is Koguryo's inherent mode of one pagoda and three Kumdang halls.

A dwelling that was in existence at the foot of the mountain farthest from behind the central district was 16 metres from east to west and 11.8 metres from north to south. Accordingly, it was not so big. And it was surrounded by a corridor—supported by two lines of pillars—which was connected with the house by a brick-paved passage. The foundation stones of the pillars were trimmed square or round.

The house was provided with one-way ondol (a kind of Korean underfloor heating system). It was connected with the king’s tomb via the western garden by a stone bridge across a ditch between it and a hill behind it.

This shows that when the successive kings of Koguryo visited the tomb of Koguryo’s founder to hold memorial services, they stayed at the temple for several days.

The temple was closed up after the time of Koguryo.

After Korea's liberation from the Japanese military occupation (August 15, 1945) it was unearthed and put to rights thanks to the cultural remains preservation policy of the country.

The temple was named so after the characters Jong and Nungsa [sa means temple] found written on roof tiles discovered during the excavation of the temple site.

From 1992 to 1993 the temple was restored to the original state along with the reconstruction of the Mausoleum of King Tongmyong.

The present temple consists of main buildings such as an inner gate, an octagonal pagoda, the Pogwang Hall, the Ryonghwa Hall, the Kungnak Hall and the corridor that surrounds them. Thus the temple adds to the majestic appearance of the Mausoleum of King Tongmyong.

The reconstructed Pogwang Hall is a building with a double-gabled roof, and is 15.05 metres long, 11.9 metres wide and 15 metres high.

The octagonal pagoda consists of the seven-storey body above the platform and the top, and is 12.5 metres high in total. The body, top and platform are 9.97, 2.53 and 1.5 metres high respectively. The bottom of the pagoda is 4.9 metres wide.

The Ryonghwa Hall is a building with a single-gabled roof, 15.75 metres in length and 7.7 metres in width. The Kungnak Hall, a similar building, is 16.1 metres in length and 7.7 metres in width. The inner gate is the same type, which is 14.72 metres in length and 7.7 metres in width. The corridor is 3.15 metres wide, 80 metres from east to west and 105 metres from north to south.

The buildings of the temple associated with the national spirit and excellent skills of Koguryo's architects and people show how much the architectural technology developed at that time. And they serve as precious materials for study into architectural remains of Koguryo, and tell that Koguryo had a great influence on Japan’s architectural development and civilization.

(Uriminzokkiri - March 22, 2021)

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