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Haeinsa celebrates 1,000 years of the Tripitaka Koreana

Haeinsa doorway

Haeinsa Temple is hosting its first contemporary art exhibition, involving 34 artists from 10 countries, to commemorate the millennial anniversary of the Tripitaka Koreana, which UNESCO has designated one of the “most important and most complete corpus of Buddhist doctrinal texts in the world.”

The exhibition’s title — 通 | 통 | Tong — uses the Chinese and Korean character for “link”. The character can also mean a passage, an opening, a deep understanding, or to move through a space. While Tong is an exhibition of international art that may be exemplified by the diversity of its cultural, social, and religious undercurrents, it also demonstrates the fundamental connection that all art and humanity shares— that is the persistent question, “What are we?”

In 1011 AD during an era of crisis and invasion, the Tripitaka Koreana was first carved as a nonviolent movement to unify the people of Korea and stimulate a cultural, social, and economic revival. The 2011 Haein Art Project attempts to follow this spirit by illustrating a unique synthesis of seemingly disparate ideologies through a new form of creative communication beyond language, belief, and nationality.

The artworks are displayed in three different venues to be explored sequentially along a path. Beginning in Haeinsa’s Seongbo Museum, to the outdoor works within Gaya-san National Park, and finally to the traditional Gugwangru hall within Haeinsa’s main complex.

The participating artists include internationally renowned names such as Atta Kim, Bill Viola and Cho Duck Hyun. Also participating is Lee Hyun-seok, based in London and member of the UK Korean Artists Association. Lee says the following of his contribution, which is titled 1,000 years:

Lee Hyun-seok: Still image from 1,000 Years (2011) - 10 minute video work
Lee Hyun-seok: Still image from 1,000 Years (2011) - 10 minute video work

This artwork, 1,000 years, represents the 1,000 years of the Tripitaka Koreana and the 1,200 years history of the Haeinsa monastery through the digital images artwork in order to deliver the historic and religious meaning of the Tripitaka Koreana and Haeinsa itself.

Particularly, I have focused on exploring the representation of Buddhist philosophical principles and sacred experience by dramatising abstract and surreal environments displaying Korean architecture and the Tripitaka Koreana. This encourages audiences to feel the ‘sacredness’ which is a unique and indigenous form of Korean tradition. The Buddhist style of narration hopefully will evoke a dramatic feeling to explore the holistic passion and pride about the Tripitaka Koreana. The English voiceover also will deliver the deep meaning of the Korean Buddhism to people from all over the world.

This form of art work, using the ‘Animated Spiritual Documentary’ genre, explores the beauty of the physical outlook as well as the metaphysical meaning using the both realistic and surreal expression based on my subjective and artistic interpretation to share the ‘feeling’ with audiences.

通 | 통 | Tong
Date: Sept 23, 2011 – Nov 6, 2011 (45 days)
Organizer: Haein Art Project
Host: Haeinsa Temple
Curators: Yu Yeon Kim(Chief), Jiwoong Yoon
Advisors: Gerardo Mosquera, Martin Brauen
Venue: Haeinsa Temple, Hapcheon, Korea
Haein Art Project: 44-1 Chiin-ri, Gaya, Hapcheon, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea, (678-895)
TEL: 055-934-3175 (English); 055-934-3173 (Korean); Fax 055-934-3174
Web: Email: [email protected]

Particpating Artists
Ahn Doo-jin, Ahn SungKeum, Atta Kim, Bill Viola, Blake Carrington, Buhm Hong, Chang Yoonseong, Cho Duck Hyun, Chong Woon Choi, DMP Architects, Faisal Samra, Hey-yeun Jang, Hyunseok Lee, Igor & Svetlana Kopistiansky, Jeon Joonho & Moon Kyungwon, Kim Seong Young, Kit Reisch, Magdalena Atria, Miya Ando, Nalini Malani, Rodney Dickson, Shi Jing, So Young Yang, Sonam Dolma, Suejin Chung, Sun Mu, Tammy Kim, Wang Zi Won, Xu Bing, Young Soon Lim, Yu Araki, Zhang Huan

Open every day from 10am-6pm
Adults ₩10,000, Youth ₩8,000; Seniors and Children ₩6,000 (under 7 free)
Group and special discounts are also available.

About Haeinsa Temple
Constructed in 802 AD, Haeinsa Temple, meaning Temple of Reflection on a Smooth Sea, is
one of the head temples of the Jogye Order of Buddhism. It is situated in the idyllic ancient
woodland of Gaya Mountain National Park in the heart of South Korea. The temple is an active
monastery with around 350 ordained monks and nuns and is recognized as one of the Three
Jewel Temples of Korea. It is renowned as the home of the Tripitaka Koreana—81,258 wooden
printing blocks that contain the complete Buddhist scriptures.

For more information, please visit:; (blog)
Haein Art Project: 44-1 Chiin-ri, Gaya, Hapcheon, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea, (678-895)
TEL: 055-934-3175 (English); 055-934-3173 (Korean); Fax 055-934-3174

The Printing Woodblocks of the Tripitaka Koreana in Haeinsa Temple are National Treasure #32


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