In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Buddhist Art and Architecture in Korea

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • Exhibition Catalogues
  • Textbooks
  • Journals
  • Buddhist Sculpture of the Three Kingdoms/Unified Silla Period
  • Buddhist Architecture of the Three Kingdoms/Unified Silla
  • Pagodas, Stupas, and Buddhist Metal Crafts
  • Buddhist Painting of the Koryŏ Period
  • Buddhist Sculpture of the Koryŏ Period
  • Illuminated Manuscripts
  • Buddhist Painting of the Chosŏn Period
  • Buddhist Sculpture of the Chosŏn Period
  • Consecration Deposits inside Sculptures/Paintings
  • Twentieth Century (1910–present)

Buddhism Buddhist Art and Architecture in Korea
Maya Stiller
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 January 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 January 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393521-0263


The study of Korean Buddhist art and architecture is a relatively young field compared to the long-held study of Japanese and Chinese art. A major exhibition of Koryŏ period (918–1392) Buddhist painting at the Yamato Bunkakan in 1978 led to an intensified study of the approximately 160 remaining Koryŏ Buddhist paintings as well as several dozen extant Buddhist sculptures in Japanese and other foreign collections. In the early 1980s, the study of Korean Buddhist art and architecture developed into an independent field of study at Korean universities, with scholars such as Kim Lena and Mun Myungdae leading the field. The earliest Anglophone studies on Korean Buddhist art were published in the late 1980s (see Pak 1987–1988, cited under Illuminated Manuscripts, and Sorensen 1989, under Buddhist Painting of the Chosŏn Period). Notable scholars following the aforementioned pioneers include Koryŏ painting experts Chung Woothak and Ide Seinosuke, as well as sculpture experts Ch’oe Sŏng-un and Jeong Eun-woo. In the late 1990s and 2000s, a research shift occurred when the South Korean Cultural Heritage Administration began to conduct and publish several surveys on Korean Buddhist art, focusing on late Chosŏn period (1392–1910) material in South Korean temples and museums (for example, see Han’guk ŭi purhwa, under Reference Works). Such newly recognized Chosŏn period paintings became the main field of study for scholars such as Kim Junghee, Lee Yongyun, and Park Eunkyoung. The latest research trend was encouraged by a special exhibition on pokchang (consecration deposits enshrined inside sculptures and paintings) held at Sudŏksa (Sudŏk Monastery) in 2004 (Sudŏksa Kŭnyŏk Sŏngbogwan 2004, under Exhibition Catalogues). Since then, the study of pokchang has developed into one of the most popular fields in Korean Buddhist art in South Korea (Lee 2013, under Consecration Deposits inside Sculptures/Paintings. Arranged chronologically and thematically within each time period, publications introduced in this annotated bibliography were selected for their innovative arguments and methodological breadth, focusing on the two main fields: painting and sculpture. Unless a specific romanization of a Korean scholar’s name is already established in Anglophone publications, Korean scholars’ names were transcribed using McCune-Reischauer Romanization, with an alternative rendering of the name provided in parentheses if available. No commas are provided between last name and first name for Korean, Chinese, and Japanese names.

General Overviews

A single book on Buddhist art and architecture of Korea has yet to be written in English, but a few introductory books on East Asian Buddhist art, such as Leidy 2008, provide brief sections on Korea. Pak 2004 provides an overview on Korean Buddhist art according to genre.

  • Leidy, Denise Patry. The Art of Buddhism: An Introduction to its History and Meaning. Boston: Shambala, 2008.

    Provides an accessible but surface-level overview on Korean Buddhist art in three chronologically arranged chapters primarily dealing with Japanese Buddhist art.

  • Pak Youngsook. “Korea, Buddhist Art in.” In The Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Edited by Robert Buswell, 435–439. New York: Macmillan, 2004.

    Concise introduction to different types of Korean Buddhist visual culture including temple architecture, pagodas, reliquaries, sculpture, and painting.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.