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Podok Hermitage, Kumgang Mountain 금강산

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Finding peace in North Korea Kumgangsan  North Korea

Finding peace in North Korea

Having studied Zen Buddhism in the South of Korea, I've always found solace in old Buddhist temples. But this particular spot was special. We had just hiked a full morning through the Inner Kumgang Mountains, as part of a 7-night North Korea tour, when we saw up ahead beautiful rafters peering down at us. The Podok Hermitage is a spectacular sight. Built during the Koguryo Dynasty, and re-built during the Ri Dynasty in 1675, this house sits on a single copper pole suspended in the middle of a 20-meter high cliff.

As we approached the hermitage, I saw centuries of history filled with strife and glory pass before my eyes. This temple had seen it all. I sat inside the hermitage, just stone and dirt now, looking out onto the world through a small window. For a moment, I found peace in North Korea.