The proportions on the Busan tourist map makes Chungnyeolsa Shrine appear as if it's only six blocks away from our apartment instead of two miles (but much closer if we had taken a direct route instead of getting lost in side streets). Upon arrival, we were received by this monument, six bronze fighters standing firm for ancient Korea.
Chungnyeolsa Shrine was built 400 years ago in dedication to 92 patriots- surprised soldiers and civilians- who died defending Busan from Japanese invasion in 1592. The Japanese were looking to expand their territory, but the Koreans defended
Beside the serene atmosphere, I am most struck by how well this national shrine is cared for. The Moon Handbook tells me that in the early 1900's the shrine fell into disrepair while the Japanese occupied the country, but it was again restored in the 70's.
The ceiling's paint is vivid, not faded. A local refreshes the incense pots while Shane and I look on. Five hundred years later, Busanites still remember those who protected them from oppression. Each of their names is inscribed on a wooden tablet inside the main upper temple. Each May, a ceremony is held in memory of the 92. One building is dedicated entirely to the four women who gave their lives, fighting as they knew how by throwing roofing tiles at the invaders in the streets below.
From the top of the shrine-- taller than one would expect-- high rise apartments and million dollar office buildings interrupt mountain views. Below, near the koi pond, there's a cafeteria, and outside the cafeteria old men play baduk in the shade. This place is a calm escape from the six lanes of traffic that swirl by only feet beyond the main gate.