The Amazing Ajummas

Written by on October 6, 2013 in Lifestyle, Travel

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The beautiful wooden pagoda at Haeunjeongsa Temple in Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

For as close as Haeunjeongsa Temple is to the famed Haeundae beach in Busan, hardly anyone visits the temple. This is unfortunate, because the temple has a lot to offer the temple adventurer. In total, I think I’ve been a handful of times with the earliest visit dating back to 2004. However, the most interesting adventure, for me personally, came just a couple months back in the winter of 2013.

Originally, I had been attempting to visit the neighbouring Pokposa Temple in Haeundae-gu, but this fell through after learning there was no neighbouring parking lot for my car. So instead of allowing the entire trip to be a bust, I decided to head over to Haeunjeongsa Temple. It had been about 5 years since I had last visited it, and if my memory was serving me correctly, I knew I was in for a treat.

When I finally did arrive at the temple, and because of its location, it was freezing cold with the wind; probably -10 with the windchill. In the course of five years, the temple had changed a fair bit. Unlike the last time I had visited, there was now a nice shrine for Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) just outside the main hall. Also, there was a brand new shrine dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) and the Nahan (The Disciples of the Historical Buddha). Large in size, the row of beautiful granite statues was/is a nice little addition to the temple grounds. This, in combination with the Geukrak-jeon Hall and the large three story wooden pagoda, froze me to the bone.

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Inside the main hall where a group of ajummas decided to warm me up on a freezing day with mats.

The coldness, and not enough foresight to bring gloves, froze my fingers. With the main hall being the only hall at the temple I had yet to visit, I decided to warm my fingers in there. Only then would I continue to capture a few more pictures. So grabbing a mat, I sat down with a couple dozen ajummas (older Korean women). With the heat not being on in the main hall, I was still shivering quite a bit. I guess one of the neighbouring ajummas realized this, so she grabbed a mat off the stack and placed it over my lap. It definitely helped, but I was still cold. So yet another ajumma grabbed yet another mat and placed it on my side. It seemed to be working, but I was still shivering. So a third ajumma grabbed yet another mat and placed it on my other side. After each mat they placed on me they would smile and bow in a motherly fashion. Finally, the third mat seem to do the trick, as I was no longer cold.

It’s these little acts of kindness that I really enjoy when visiting Korean temples. It’s not the first, and I’m sure it won’t be the last during my stay in Korea.

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Out in front of the main hall is this granite row of Nahan statues.

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About the Author

Dale Quarrington

Dale Quarrington has lived in the Busan and Gyeongsangnam-do Province area ever since arriving in Korea in 2003. He’s visited all of the Korean provinces, exploring both the known and unknown temples and hermitages around the Korean peninsula. While he’s not traveling, he enjoys reading books and learning about Korean history.