Mireukri is one of the most beautiful temple sites I’ve seen yet in Korea. It’s a ruin, but it was lovely. People think the temple was built in the early Goreyo Dynasty, then was rebuilt three times before it finally fell into ruin.The Buddha statue itself is built from six rocks, but the face is surprisingly well-preserved. The locals claim they provide no maintenance to the statue. But I suspect his well-preserved face has something to do with the “hat” he is wearing.

Mireukiri is located at the base of the Woraksan mountains. We went to Mireukri on one of the last days of autumn, just as the colors were changing from brilliant reds and yellows to browns. The hazy day provided some gorgeous soft light for photos. We started early enough around 10:30 that we didn’t see too many people on the trail. (Seriously love South Korean mornings!) We even thought the haze would burn off eventually, but it didn’t. The fog hung around for a couple of days before a lovely snow, sleet, rain, ice storm blew it out of the area.

Directions: From a Chungju bus station, take bus 246 for 45 minutes going towards Suanbo. Fare is 1,200 won. When you get off at the end of the line, take the right trail head to the oldest Buddha statue in Korea. You can continue along the trail to Poamosan for a brief and vigorous hike straight uphill.

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