The Guknyeong Grand Buddha statue, nestled in the heart of Bukhansan National Park, is the largest seated Buddha figure in Korea. At 24m high, it also claims to be the largest in the whole of East Asia.
This magnificent statue is situated within the site of Guknyeongsa temple in a valley below Yongchul Peak, where according to legend a dragon once ascended to heaven. It sits majestic and golden, a benevolent protector of the surrounding area. Encircling it are ten thousand small Buddha statues, signifying devotion.
Approaching the temple from higher up, the view of the statue is a striking sight as it appears down below, surrounded by rugged peaks. Along the trail that leads downwards there are little waterfalls, streams and precariously balanced towers of stones. I visited in winter and the streams were frozen solid, beautiful sheets of white ice glistening like marble.
Our visit to the temple formed the end of an afternoon of clambering over rocks and boulders, a pretty tough journey for anyone who's not an enthusiastic hiker. However, it is much easier to get there by following signs from Bukhansan Fortress entrance (북한산성 입구), and the views are certainly worth it, in any season.
Update 2015: Check out our new Youtube video, showing a little bit of Guknyeongsa: