I already shared in previous posts my experience on South Korean Temples stays, which I really recommend to any visitor. Beopjusa is a temple located 4 hours away from Seoul. Lost in the mountains and guarded by a massive Budha, the place has a really unique personality, and this is something that can be hardly found in Korea.
North and South Korea historical heritage is not in good condition. This is of course due to a very oppressive history composed of invasions and repressions. The first reason of this lack of good preservation of the korean temples, traditionnal villages and palaces, is that most of the buildings were seldom made of stones and bricks: wood was mainly the first material used. And as in other countries in Asia, wooden buildings were usually naturally damaged or destroyed during centuries.
The second reason is of course wars and occupations. We all know about the Korean war which divided Korea in two countries in 1953. This conflict was truely devastating and occured all over the peninsula, from the southern city of Busan until the chinese border. Cities were bombed and were used as battlefields for 3 years. In this situation, korean heritage preservation was not really a priority for both sides generals.
But korean history doesn’t stop there and a more unknown part (at least for occidentals) of Korean history is composed of violent invasions. Japan tried several times to invade and occupy Korea, using the country as a vassal to the empire. Following this goal, any independant movement or resistance was strongly repressed, and korean culture was considered as an obstacle to the japanese assimilation. Therefore, most of korean temples and palaces were destroyed or damaged by these invasions.
The very last reason can also be the fact that the notion of heritage preservation is still something quite new in Korea. The country focused for the last decades in economic development and social improvements, and patrimony was not really in the first considerations of the country at that time.
For all of these reasons, finding well preserved and beautiful historical sites in Korea is not always easy. The Budha of Beopjusa Temple seems however having well guard his home.