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National Treasure

Ten-story Stone Pagoda at Wongaksa Temple Site, Seoul
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Classification National Treasure
Name of Cultural Properties Ten-story Stone Pagoda at Wongaksa Temple Site, Seoul
Quantity 1 Pagoda
Designated Date 1962.12.20
Age Early Joseon Period
Address 99, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Wongaksa Temple whose precincts once housed this stone was established in 1465 at the current location of Tapgol Park in Downtown Seoul. The temple continued to thrive as a state institution even after the establishment of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), which adopted Confucianism as its ideological foundation and suppressed Buddhism. It was in 1504 when Joseon was under the rule of Yeonsangun, a despotic king, that the temple was closed and its premises were turned into a gisaeng (female entertainer) house called Yeonbangwon.
This 12-meter-tall marble pagoda is the only existing monument of its kind built during the Joseon Period, boasting of elaborately carved decorations that create wonderful aesthetic harmony with the grayish white surface of the marble. The pagoda consists of a three-tier base in polygonal shape -- decorated with elaborately carved images of various creatures such as dragon, lion, and lotus -- and the ten-story main body wherein the lower part of the three stories is polygonal in plain view just like the base and the upper part of the seven stories is in square form. Each story exhibits the appearance of a traditional Korean house in a detailed manner complete with roof, decorative support brackets, and columns.
Compared with other Korean stone pagodas largely made of granite, this pagoda is unique since it is made of marble and due to its structure whose details are similar to those of the Ten-story Stone Pagoda of the Gyeongcheonsa Temple Site built during the Goryeo Period (918-1392). A record engraved on the top of the pagoda shows that it was set up in 1467. The pagoda is now regarded as a great masterpiece for its unique decorations wrought with excellent carving techniques.