Decision : 42 COM 8B.23
Sansa, Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Korea (Republic of Korea)
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Documents WHC/18/42.COM/8B and WHC/18/42.COM/INF.8B1,
- Inscribes Sansa, Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Korea, Republic of Korea, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criterion (iii);
- Takes note of the following provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:
Sansa are Buddhist mountain monasteries located throughout the Korean Peninsula. Seven temples – Tongdosa, Buseoksa, Bongjeonsa, Beopjusa, Magoksa, Seonamsa and Daeheungsa – established in the 7th to 9th centuries represent these ancient and continuing centres of spiritual practice. The seven temples have historical associations with different schools of Buddhist thought and contain many individually notable historic structures, objects and documents, shrines and halls. The specific intangible and historical aspects of Korean Buddhism are based on the time-depth and continuity of the mountain monasteries, and the traditions of temple managements, education of monks, Seon meditative practices and doctrinal study. The spatial arrangement within the monasteries reflect these characteristics, as well as the requirements for the self-reliance of monastic communities. They commonly include one or more ‘madang’ (open yard), flanked on four sides by structures (Buddha Hall, pavilion, lecture hall and dormitory), and natural mountain settings. The mountain monasteries have survived to the present as living centres of faith and daily practice despite centuries of suppression during the Joseon Dynasty, and the impacts of Japanese invasion in the late 16th century.
Criterion (iii): Buddhism has a long history that has traversed a number of historical eras in the Korean Peninsula. The seven mountain monasteries – Tongdosa, Buseoksa, Bongjeongsa, Beopjusa, Magoksa, Seonamsa and Daeheungsa – offer a distinctively Korean instantiation of Buddhist monastic culture from the 7th century to the present day. These mountain monasteries are sacred places and provide an exceptional testimony to their long and continuing traditions of Buddhist spiritual practice.
Together the seven temples contain the elements necessary to express the Outstanding Universal Value of Korean Buddhist mountain monasteries, including their mountain settings, well-preserved buildings for religious practice and daily living, worship halls and shrines, meditation areas, monastic academy spaces and dormitories for monks. Few pressures threaten the components and they are intact, free of major losses and alterations during the modern period, and retain their original functions, despite changes through history.
The authenticity of the serial property is based on the long and continuing uses of the components for Buddhist spiritual practices and rituals, and is based on their location and setting; traditions, techniques and management skills; and intangible heritage. The architectural elements have been carefully maintained according to principles of repair and restoration, using traditional construction techniques, although the function of some buildings have changed to support the operations of the temples. The religious traditions and functions of the Buddhist temples maintain a high degree of authenticity.
Protection and management requirements
The seven temples are all being protected and managed as State or City/Province designated Cultural Heritage under the Cultural Heritage Protection Act;. Modern constructions to facilitate continuing use and developments around the temples are strictly controlled. Each of the seven components is also protected by the Korean Traditional Temples Preservation and Support Act.
Cultural Heritage Zones and Historical and Cultural Environment Protection Zones established by the Cultural Heritage Protection Act are in place for each of the components and their buffer zones. The Cultural Heritage Protection Act applies within areas of 500-metres of the outer boundary of each Cultural Heritage Zone. Heritage Impact Assessments are prepared within the provisions of the Cultural Heritage Protection Act. Each temple has various designated elements (including artworks, relics and architecture) at the national or provincial level.
The ‘Conservation and Management Plan for Sansa, Buddhist Monasteries in Korea’ is in place, and the management system and conservation strategy will be overseen by ‘Sansa Conservation and Management’, with representation from religious and government authorities. Staff are provided for administration, conservation management, monitoring, research and promotion, as well as the monks, temple management staff, cultural heritage management staff and cultural tourism guides.
Each temple is under the responsibility of a chief abbot. The Cultural Affairs Department of the Administrative Headquarters of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism is responsible for the management of cultural heritage, and the development and implementation of related projects. The Laity Association of each temple participates in volunteer work to support Buddhist practices, maintaining the temple landscapes and cleaning the temples. Visitor infrastructure is provided at each temple.
The Cultural Heritage Administration formulates comprehensive 5-year plans for the conservation and management of the temples in consultation with provincial governments. There is a Cultural Heritage Maintenance Plan for Buseoksa and Seonamsa temples, and plans for the remaining components will be established in 2018-2020.
- Recommends that the State Party give consideration to the following:
- Developing planning measure for the existing ‘non-cultural heritage elements’ within the temples, providing guidance about new construction, renovation and renewal, and specifying approval procedures,
- Establishing Cultural Heritage Maintenance Plans for Tongdosa, Bongjeongsa, Beopjusa, Magoksa and Daeheungsa temples,
- Developing measures to mitigate future visitor pressures (particularly in peak periods) in order to maintain an appropriate atmosphere within the temples,
- Ensuring that all new construction projects within the temple complexes (including those mentioned in the evaluation report) that could impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the series are communicated to the World Heritage Centre in line with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.