The 500 Disciples of Buddha

The Singing Monk Jihye and I visited the Buddhist temple Bomunsa on Seongmo Island. While the temple is famous for its grottos, the part I found the most fun happened to be the “Obaek Nahan” or “The 500 Disciples of Buddha”. While I didn’t count how many statues there actually were, there were many statues, each with its own personality. While these are much more recent additions to this temple complex, it is also much more humorous and clever than the more ancient austere statuary and bas relief. Here is one of my favorites. I can’t quite tell if he’s singing his heart out or enjoying the rain, but either way he’s quite fun. I also like the guy in the foreground. Is he contemplating or listening? Maybe he’s just bored.

the animal loving disciple Some other favorites include this guy. I’ve always loved animals lovers. Probably because I’m not good at taking care of animals. Same way I love gardeners. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a gardener among this crowd, but alas I didn’t find him!



This guy also caught my eye. I love him above all the others because he notices the things around him. More than any of the other disciples, he is the one who observes. I look at him, and he looks back. I suppose you could also call him distracted, but I looked into those eyes. No, he is definitely paying close attention to the things no one else will.

Naturally there needs to be a disciple of making faces.





In the middle of the array is a statue of the Buddha himself, flanked by two Bodhisattvas. They’re pretty standard, so I decided to pose with one of the guys up front. He seems pretty hip.




And here’s another wide view of the host. I hope to return in the future so I can get to know each of them. But perhaps I’ll do that when its not so humid out!




So, until next time, keep an eye out! You’ll never know what you’ll find!

Want to visit?

Bomunsa Temple is located Seongmo Island just west of Gangwha Island, a part of Incheon, Korea.

629 Maeeum-ri, Samsan-myeon, Ganghwa-gun, Incheon, South Korea
인천광역시 강화군 삼산면 매음리 629

Website (Korean only)


  1. Its amazing how each of them are different. A much harder task than just making them all the same. It would be really interesting to find out of there are actually 500, and what all the differences mean! Thank you for sharing!

    • The island was calm and very rural. I enjoyed the roads climbing up and around the hills of the island, but I can’t recommend it as particularly special. But I also didn’t fully explore the island or study the offerings it had before going there, so I won’t discourage it either! However, if you go to Ganghwado, I would recommend the short hop to Seongmodo, even if only for the temple.

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