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The Korean Buddhist Version of a Megachurch

The Korean Buddhist Version of a Megachurch

The Korean Buddhist Version of a Megachurch

Seoul isn’t just the megachurch capital of the world; Nungin Sunwon Zen Center is considered a mega-temple, with 100,000 members.

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Venerable Jigwang, a former journalist, left the city for the mountains to pursue Buddhism, then came back to start Nungin Sunwon. The reason for the popularity of the temple, he told us over tea, is because people experience the feeling of oneness, eternity and gain “revolutionary eyes.”

“These times in the United States and European countries, lots of people want to have some kind of knowledge of Buddhism and Zen Buddhism, but this meditation is for the therapy,” he told us. “We will try hard to practice…and we will get some great experience of oneness.”

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Much like Christian megachurches in Seoul, Nungin Sunwon is a busy place during the middle of the week. It has both a senior center and kids program. The collage above shows the Buddhist temple’s activities for older adults, including calligraphy, meditation and yoga. We found many older women at the center in particular. Women are the backbone of religion Monday through Saturday.

Nungin Sunwon also has a credit union right in the temple. An account number also is shared on its website so people can send donations directly to the temple for various development programs and projects.