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Naesosa Iljumun 13-04632 - Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea.JPG
The iljumun of Naesosa Temple, Buan County
Korean name
Revised RomanizationIljumun

Iljumun is the first gate at the entrance to many Korean Buddhist temples. Called the "One-Pillar Gate", because when viewed from the side the gate appears to be supported by a single pillar.


The Iljumun is one of the three major types of gates constructed on the path that leads to the temple and often illustrates the formality of Buddhist architecture.[1] The other two are the Cheonwangmun (Gate of Guardians) and the Haetalmun (Gate of Deliverance). The construction of Iljumun is said to have originated from the tradition of placing four gates at the four cardinal points around the stupas of Sanchi in India since the 1st century BC.[2]

The Iljumun symbolizes the one true path of enlightenment which supports the world.[3] Physically, the gate serves to demarcate the temple from the outside.[4] It is the boundary between the Buddhist temple and a human's worldly life.[3] The gate symbolizes purification and one must leave all of their worldly desires before entering the temple.[3]

The oneness is also a metaphor for non-duality (unity) in spirit and heart.[5]

An image of an Iljumun appears on the obverse of the Korean Service Medal.

See also[edit]

  • Hongsalmun, in Korean architecture with both religious and other usage
  • Torana, in Hindu-Buddhist Indian-origin also found in Southeast Asia and East Asia
  • Toran, ceremonial Indian door decoration
  • Torii, in Japanese temple architecture
  • Paifang, in Chinese temple architecture
  • Hongsalmun, in Korean temple architecture
  • Tam quan, in Vietnamese temple architecture


  1. ^ Yim, Seock Jae (2005). Windows and Doors: A Study of Korean Architecture. Ewha Womans University Press. p. 63. ISBN 978-89-7300-622-9.
  2. ^ Pares, Susan (2008). Korea: The Past and the Present (2 vols): Selected Papers From the British Association for Korean Studies Baks Papers Series, 1991-2005, Volume 1. Kent: Global Oriental. p. 18. ISBN 9781901903546.
  3. ^ a b c An Illustrated Guide to Korean Culture - 233 traditional key words. Seoul: Hakgojae Publishing Co. 2002. pp. 187. ISBN 9788985846981.
  4. ^ Ho-sung, Choi (2015-12-31). Temple Stay: A Journey of Self-Discovery. Seoul Selection. ISBN 978-1-62412-057-2.
  5. ^ Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Korea Branch (1 January 1996). Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch. The Branch. p. 85. Archived from the original on 5 August 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2011.