On the east side of Palgongsan is this temple, founded by Monk Hyecheol, who was known as the Great Meditation Master, in A.D. 809. The original temple, Haeinsa (Temple of the Tranquil Sea), was burned during the Imjin Waeran in the 1590s. It was subsequently transferred to its current location, rebuilt, and given its present name. A stately temple complex, the main hall, which dates from the 16th century, has been designated a national treasure.

War with Japan, Round One -- From 1592 to 1598, Korea was attacked by Japanese invaders. This war is called the Imjin Waeran (translates roughly to "the war started by the Japanese in the year of imjin"), the Seven-Year War, or the Hideyoshi Invasions. There were two major invasions during that time -- the first led by the legendary Japanese warrior Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1592-93) and the second from 1597 to 1598. Originally, the Japanese saw success on land and failure at sea, mostly thanks to the naval defenses led by Admiral Yi Su-shin and his turtle ships. The Korean navy was able to intercept communication and supplies to the Japanese forces. Ming China intervened, trying to bring a peaceful end to the war (through both diplomatic and military means), stalling the war for 5 years, until Japan invaded for a second time in 1597. The war ended with the naval battle at Noryang in 1598, when the Korean navy forced the retreat of the Japanese forces.

Unfortunately for Korea, this was just the first of many subsequent attacks by the Japanese, and in 1910, Japan officially annexed Korea. The indignities suffered under Japanese rule -- for example, many Korean women were forced to serve as prostitutes, or "comfort women," for occupying Japanese troops -- still resonate today. In 2007, Japanese premier Shinzo Abe made a statement implying that the Japanese had not forced women into sexual slavery. The resulting outcry both in Korea and around the world led to a formal apology, but tensions between Japan and Korea still run high.