Situated on the southern side of Palgongsan, this temple was built by Monk Geuk-Dal in A.D. 493, the 15th year of the reign of Shilla king Soji. Originally called Yugasa, the temple was given its current name when it was rebuilt in 771 by Simjiwongsa during King Heung-deok's reign. The current temple structure was built in 1732, but it's had serious renovations, additions, and landscaping in the past few decades.

During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Buddhism was heavily persecuted in Korea. Monks hid in remote mountain temples and Donghwasa is a good example of the hidden sanctuaries of the time.

The eastern section of the temple site is the Geumdang-am hermitage hall, built next to twin stone pagodas dating back to the Unified Shilla Era. The road in front of the hermitage was the original entrance to Donghwasa and the original gate pillars and stone relief still remain. There are a number of other hermitage sites and many Buddhist images engraved on rocks scattered throughout the forest nearby. You will see them as you climb the hill to the newer section, the National Reunification (Tongil) Temple, which was built in the 1980s by the South Korean president, who was a Buddhist. The temple is dedicated to the peaceful reunification of the two Koreas. Above the complex is a giant white marble Buddha of Reunification in the ample courtyard.