Seongbulsa Temple, Ulleung-do island
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Buddha looking out over the north shore...
High above the north shore of Ulleung-do island, Seongbulsa temple isn't an especially old temple, and it's certainly not a large one--just one building--but oh, the setting... So often throughout Korea, if you want the best view of an area, hike up to a Buddhist temple, approach the presiding statue, and then turn around and face what the sculpture seems to be looking at--usually a vista of mountains and valleys. Here, from one of Korea's farthest-flung outposts, partway up the vertical volcanic peak of Songgatsan mountain, the Buddha of Seongbulsa faces east over the Sea of Japan. (Mind your terminology, though; Koreans refer to this body of water as the "East Sea," not taking kindly to the former colonial power.) Forested cliffs, a fishing village, and an everlasting horizon--this is one of the best views in Korea... To get here--take the lone coastal road from either of the harbor villages around to the north of the island; just after Songgatsan peak, look for an impossibly steep road on your right--it's a sharp right, and your rental Hyundai WILL make it up!
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