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Three Saints History and Culture Park

What is the Three Saints History and Culture Park?

The Three Saints History and Culture Park, a history park in the form of a multifunctional cultural complex in harmony with culture and tradition, is a multi-purpose complex tourist facility combined with a history and culture ecology designed to transmit and foster the great spirit of the three saints (Wonhyo, Seol Chong, and Il Yeon) who were born in Gyeongsan, and to be used as a spiritual-culture education plaza for the rising generation.


Three Saints Story

  • Wonhyo (617-686)
    • Wonhyo was born in Gyeongsan-si (formerly Apryang-gun). His popular surname was Seol, his Buddhist name was Wonhyo, and his first name was Seodang or Shindang. He was the son of Seoldamnal, Silla’s 11th official.
    • He became a Buddhist monk at 15, when he was supposed to study, and became an official monk at 31 at Hwangryongsa, after which he practiced asceticism. When he went to Tang, the ancient Chinese state, in 661 with Uisang, to seek the truth, he achieved spiritual enlightenment after drinking water from a skull in a cave in Danghwangseong. He then came back to Silla, where he proclaimed the Theory of Syncretic Buddhism and devoted his efforts to popularizing Buddhism. He married Princess Yeoseok, the daughter of King Taejong Muyeol, thanks to the song “Su-heo-mol-ga-bu Ah-jak-ji-cheon-ju (誰許沒柯斧 我斫支天柱)”, and they begot Seol Chong. After the birth of his son, he asserted that he violated the Buddhist commandments and called himself Sosung or Geosung (both mean the lowest class of people) grhapati, then spread Mahayana Buddhism while singing 「Mooaega」, a song of freedom from all obstacles.
    • His ideas were characterized by universality, transcending epochs, ethnic groups, and religions. Wonhyo, whose representative ideas were dialogues between religions, oneness in body and soul, and freedom from all obstacles, was a free man crossing the boundaries of divinity and mundaneness, and an executor of freedom from everything. He was also a world-class writer who put out as many as around 240 books until he died at a cave temple in 686, at age 69. He was one of the ten Silla saints.
  • Seol Chong (655-?)
    • Seol Chong, the son of Wonhyo, a great Buddhist monk, who was born immediately before Silla unified the three nations, during the reign of King Taejong Muyeol, was a Confucian scholar who worked through the successive reigns of King Munmoo, King Shinmoon, King Hyoso, and King Sungduk.
    • Seol Chong, whose courtesy name was Chongji and whose pen name was Bingwoldang, was a literary giant, along with Gangji and Choi Chi Won, and one of the ten saints in the Silla Era. He served as a hanrim who played the role of an advisor to the king.
    • He was a scholar who mastered China’s Confucian classics (particularly the exegetics), which were accepted by Silla from the Three-Nation Period, and who worked on such classics, which were unified during the Tang Dynasty, translating them in Korean and adding exegetical notes to them.
    • He wrote Seokdokgugyeol, a book that explains how to read the Chinese characters in the Confucian classics in Korean. He also invented Ito, which was applied to the borrowed characters like Hyangchal and Idu and became the foundation of the Korean language’s orthography. In addition, it is said that he advised King Shinmoon to study Hwawanggye of Chronicles of the Three Nations. Later, the king ordered it to be used as the rules against crimes.
    • Seol Chong, who was promoted to Hongyuhoo in 1022 (King Hyunjon of Goryeo, 13 years), becoming one of the 18 saints in the Oriental world, was the suzerain of Korean Confucianism who was canonized in a Confucian shrine, in Seoak Memorial Hall in Gyeongju-si, and in Dodong Memorial Hall in Gyeongsan-si.
  • Il Yeon (1206-1289)
    • Il Yeon was born in Gyeongsan (formerly Jangsan-gun) in 1206 (King Heejong of Goryeo, 2 years). His popular surname was Kim, courtesy name is Hoi Yeon or Il Yeon, and he was called Gyeonmyoung as a child. He was the son of Kim Eonpil.
    • As he went to Mooryangsa in Haeyang (now Gwangju-si) in 1214, at age 9, and devoted his utmost efforts to his studies, he received the commandments of Buddhism from Daewoong at Jinjeonsa in Mt. Seorak in 1219 and became a Buddhist monk. At the age of 22, he passed the National Monk Test in 1227, became Samjungdaesa in 1237, and was promoted to Sunsa in 1246 and then to Daesunsa in 1259.
    • In 1250, he passively took part in engraving Tripitaka Koreana as a supervisor at the local picture book office in Namhae while staying at Junglimsa upon the invitation of Jungan. In 1283, he was designated a great national figure and received the title of Wonkyoungchungjo, and in 1284, he received 100 paddy fields from the government and reconstructed Ingaksa to take good care of his old mother, where he is believed to have completed "The Heritage of the Three States", a collection of ancient Korean mythological stories that is a valuable material for the study of Korea’s ancient history. He also wrote about 100 books, including "Daejangsujirok", "Gyeseungjapjeo", "Jungpyeonjodongowi", and "Jodo".