Home Asia Pacific North Asia S/N Korea Arts & Culture
Canadian explores Korean Buddhist temples
By Jon Dunbar, The Korea Times, Feb 2, 2016
Seoul, South Korea -- Canadian writer Dale Quarrington published this month his second book on Buddhist temples around Korea. Titled "Korean Temples: Art, Architure and History," it spotlights the nation's 25 most significant temples across all nine provinces.
<< Canadian writer Dale Quarrington stands in front of Tapsa Temple in Jinan County, North Jeolla Province.
/ Courtesy of Dale Quarrington
"I guess what really drew me to Korean Buddhism was my interest in art, religion and history," he told The Korea Times. "And at a Korean Buddhist temple, you get all three, in one place."
He visited his first Buddhist temple ? Bulguksa ? in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, in fall 2003, shortly after moving to Korea from Tottenham, near Toronto, Canada. He said he was immediately hooked.
In January 2011 he opened www.koreantemples.com where he documents his travels. He tries to visit a different temple a couple times a month.
Explaining his devotion to visiting temples is difficult for him, especially as he isn't Buddhist. But he certainly finds the visits highly rewarding.
Currently he lives in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province, with his Korean wife, a practicing Buddhist. She accompanies him on his temple visits half of the time, he said.
"We tend to have a bit of a routine," he said. "I go around and explore and she prays. After, we meet up. She's glad that I have a hobby that's not too expensive. In part, I think she's happy that I have a hobby that is so integral to her country."
In June 2014 he published "Korean Temples: From Korea's Southeast Corner," focusing on the corner of the country he's called home for over 12 years. For his second self-published book, he expands his scope to the whole peninsula.
"All 25 temples I discuss in my new book are the most prominent and historically significant temples in Korea," he said. "Any and all of the 25 temples are a great starting point to explore and better understand Korean Buddhism."
As well as introducing famous temples such as Bukguksa, Tongdosa and Haeinsa with original reports and almost 100 color photos, he also provides directions to help readers who want to visit for themselves.
Quarrington reckons he's visited between 400 and 500 temples across Korea. "There are roughly 10,000 temples in Korea, so I've only visited the tip of the iceberg," he said. "I guess an art connoisseur is never satisfied with one picture."
His book is available in paperback or e-book form on Amazon, or through koreantemples.com.