This temple burned down in the spring of 2005, and a newer, brighter temple building was completed in 2009. It is known as the "Temple of Compassion" (because the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, who embodies perfect compassion, is housed there). The beautiful and large stone statue overlooking the East Sea was luckily untouched by the fire. A smaller wooden statue and the building that housed it were also unharmed.
The original temple was founded by Uisang, the ambassador for the 30th Shilla king, in A.D. 671, during the 16th year of the reign of King Munmu. One of the few older items that remain is the arched gate (built in 1467 during the reign of King Sejo), which is said to be made of 26 stones, one for each of the magistrates governing the 26 towns in the area. The seven-story pagoda was said to be constructed during that time as well. The bronze bell on-site dates back to 1469.
Below the temple on a seaside cliff is the small hermitage, Hongryeon-am, which was also spared from the fire. When you enter the sanctuary (as always, be sure to remove your shoes), take note of the small hole in the floor through which you can view the waves crashing below.
Tip: Visit during lunch hour and be treated to a free bowl of janchi gooksu ("feast noodles"), a humble dish of broth and somen.