South Korea’s Secret Gold Temple (Bonus, No-Filter)

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By Giacomo Lee. Read the dark side to Seoul city in his novel Funereal, out now on Amazon UK & US.

All words and photos by Giacomo Lee. Bonus no-filter shots below exclusive to Trickster Trickster. Read more above at

















Excerpt from Medium article:

Suguksa Temple (수국사) was established during the Joseon Dynasty, as set up in 1459 by King Sejo in honour of his deceased son. The temple was intended to provide treatment for royals afflicted by anxiety and other mental ailments, and became so respected that one king offered riches and a seat in the government for its chief monk following the successful treatment of his son. The monk declined his offer, and instead requested a gold-covered Buddhist sanctum to be built in the grounds of the temple for ordinary citizens, the very people whose taxes he didn’t wish to take as reward from the king based on principle. The building we see today is this sanctum, 황금보전 (or 황금법당), which means the Golden Buddhist Sanctum. It’s formal title is 수국사괘불, and the unique colouring of this beautiful temple comes from the special gold paper used to decorate its ancient walls.

Directions to Suguksa 수국사 in Gusan-dong, Eunpyeong-Gu, Seoul:

Venture out Exit 3 of Gusan Station on Line 6 (구산). Take a right, where there’ll be a pharmacy on the corner of the street with a Dunkin Donuts to its right hand side. Walk straight past the stores, and keep going straight for 15 minutes until you see a sign with 수국사 in hangul, upon which you take a left up into the grounds of the temple.

Very special thanks to Won Choi for help with this article.

Giacomo d. Lee is a London writer based in Korea. His upcoming novel Funereal will be about the dark side to Seoul, surgery and pop. Find it on Signal 8 Press in 2015. Follow on Instagram @leegiacomo below

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