Kyol Che

Kyol Che means 'Tight Dharma' and refers to the three months during the summer or winter when Zen monks traditionally spend their time on meditation retreat, concentrating on formal sitting practice for at least nine or ten hours a day in the Zen room. The retreat is held in silence and the intensive schedule allows one to completely devote oneself to formal practice.

Sitting meditation, chanting and bowing are the core of our formal practice during kyol che at Musangsa. Weekly Dharma talks and kong-an interviews are given to all retreat participants by the guiding teachers.

In traditional Korean Zen temples, monks, nuns and laypeople all sit retreat in different meditation rooms. At Musangsa, all four groups (monk, nuns, laymen and laywomen) do formal meditation practice together following the teaching of Zen Master Seung Sahn. If you are interested in participating in kyol che at Musangsa, please go to Kyol Che Information & Application below.

Kyol Che Dates 2017 -2018

Winter Kyol Che December 2, 2017 - March 2, 2018

Entry Dates
November 30th (Entry for start of Kyol Che on December 2)
December 16th, 30th
January 6th, 16th (Entry to join Intensive Week from January 17th - 24th*), 27th
February 10th, 17th, 24th

*Participants may exit retreat on Wednesday 24th which is the last day of the Intensive Week. Please note: there is NO EXIT for any participant on Saturday, January 20th.
Kyol Che Information

International Summer or Winter Retreat (Kyol Che)

Kyol Che means "Tight Dharma." The day begins at 3:00 a.m. when we rise to practice 108 prostrations, followed by chanting, sitting meditation, formal meal and working. Silence is observed throughout the retreat. The intensive schedule includes 10 hours of formal practice and activity every day.
Please read the following carefully as it forms the basis of your participation in the retreat.

Jae Dan Beop In Seung Sahn International Zen Center Musangsa

Musangsa is located on an energy point of Gye Ryeong Mountain which is renowned for its strong, mystical energy. The nearest city is Daejeon in Chung-nam Province, 2 ½ hours south of Seoul by car. Zen Master Dae Bong Sunim and Hye Tong Sunim are the Guiding Teachers for the Kyol Che and will give weekly Dharma talks and regular kong-an interviews. All participants are required to comply fully with the guidance and instructions of the Guiding Teachers when at Musangsa.

Basic Requirements (minimum one week participation)

The retreat is open to all who have had some experience of meditation in a Kwan Um School of Zen center and can sit fo​r minimum of one week. (Monks and nuns are required to sit for the full 90 days.) Applicants must be over 18 years old and are expected to stay for the complete period for which they have applied. Retreat accommodation is in simple, shared rooms, sleeping on the floor (heated in winter) with mattresses.

Entering and Exiting Kyol Che

Participants are required to enter and exit on the designated dates of their retreat agreement.
Exit from retreat is on Saturdays after lunch ONLY, unless by special circumstance, with permission from the Guiding Teachers.

Basic Rules

Participants who join the retreat should agree to the following:
• Follow the Retreat and Temple Rules of the Kwan Um School of Zen
• Observe silence from the start to the end of your retreat
• Participate fully in daily practice
• Do not shave your head if you are a layperson – you should keep at least 1cm of hair
• Take care that your actions do not disturb others and conform to the behavior and etiquette required at a Korean temple - participants will be instructed on this as part of their practice.
• No outside communications during the retreat
• No use of mobile phones, personal computers, tablets, and any personal telecommunication or entertainment devices during the retreat. Please note that upon registration for your retreat, you will be asked to give your mobile phones or electronic devices for safekeeping at the temple for the duraiton of your retreat participation.


If you are coming from overseas we can provide you with travel directions from Incheon Airport to Musangsa. If you are joining the retreat after the start, plan to arrive at least one day before your entry day to adjust to the local situation, especially if you are coming from abroad. You can stay in hotel/motel accommodation outside the temple until the entry day, in the town near Musangsa called Gyeryong, or in Seoul. For Gyeryong accomodations, you can correspond by with the Musangsa director at info@musangsa.org for help with booking.

Arrival & Registration

• Those who will join the retreat from the beginning of Kyol Che should plan to arrive at Musangsa no later than 2 days before the start ​by​ ​12:00​ ​p.m. Please check specified Kyol Che entry dates for each season.
• Those who will join the retreat on any Saturday entry day should arrive no later than 12:00 pm, in order to register at the Musangsa office and then attend an important orientation at 1:30 p.m. Registration takes place between 11:30am to 1:00pm.

Accommodation Before Entering The Retreat

Kyol Che participants who sit the full three months can stay at Musangsa without charge for two nights prior to the commencement of the retreat. If you are coming for a shorter retreat stay, you should organize your own accommodation before you get to Musangsa. You should plan to arrive at Musangsa before between 11:30am and 1:00pm on the Saturday entry day. Let us know your travel details early so that we can advise you of the travel arrangements. Please email your travel details to info@musangsa.org prior to your arrival in Korea.

Documents Required

1) Please make sure you have a valid passport for the entire duraiton of your stay at Musangsa. Also, please check with the Korean embassy in your country whether the type of visa you will receive is of sufficient length for your stay at Musangsa. For more information, please check the following Korea Immigration website
2) It is very difficult to obtain a long-term visa for Korea and it is not permissible for any participant to overstay the allotted time on their visa.
3) If you plan to sit the full 90-day retreat, it will actually be necessary to stay longer than 90 days in Korea, including your arrival date, departure date, orientation, etc. Since most tourist visas are for 90 days or less, you should choose one of the following options:
I. Visa extension trip to Japan
It is possible to make a visa extension trip to Japan during the retreat, and receive another 90 days in Korea. The cost of the trip which is to be made by ship, should be met by the participant. If your country also requires a visa for Japan, you will need to obtain that before the retreat begins. Please check for visa requirements to enter Japan.
II. Those who do not wish to make a visa extension trip to Japan during the retreat may enter 2 weeks later, which will allow them to finish on the last day of the retreat along with the rest of the group. In this case, the actual period of the retreat will be 78 days.
III.​ Musangsa DOES NOT service applications for visa extensions as current Korean Immigration law is stringent on short term extensions. Kyol Che participants are recommended to schedule their retreat participation dates to within their visa limit dates to avoid hassles or denial of future entry into Korea.

Korea Immigration website

No Outside Contacts

Participants must remain inside the temple area for the entire duration of their retreat. Telephone calls, chats, e-mail, letters and contacts with visitors are not allowed, except in case of an emergency, for which you will be notified by the temple office.


While participating in Kyol Che, all participants should wear the traditional meditation clothes. This means grey meditation pants, working jacket and bowing robe. Meditation clothes can also be borrowed from the temple upon your arrival, but sizes are limited. Clothes worn inside such as t-shirts or sweaters should be white, grey or a dull color. Personal clothing brought to the retreat, including socks, etc. should be of muted, dull colors such as grey, brown or white, to blend in well with the grey-colored robes. If you have taken five precepts or more in our school, please bring your small kasa or long robe (as appropriate) for chanting practice. KUSZ Dharma Teachers should bring their long robes.

Clothing for Winter

Bring warm socks, hat, gloves, scarf, sweater, undergarments as needed, outdoor shoes and winter jacket.
If necessary, you may borrow hats and gloves from the temple.

Clothing for Summer

The summer season in Korea can be hot and humid. Please bring enough t-shirts and personal raingear.


It is not possible to satisfy the special food requirements of all participants. All participants are requested to accept the simple, vegetarian diet provided. Supplementary foodstuffs are not permitted.

Personal Health and Insurance

You are expected to take responsibility for your own health. We cannot assume responsibility for personal medicines, medical and dental expenses. It is not possible to visit a doctor during the retreat except in cases of serious emergency. If you have any existing illness or physical injury that requires ongoing medical treatment, please do not ​apply for this retreat.

Transportation Costs

All participants need to bear their own transportation costs. This includes:
• Round-trip airfare from your home country to Seoul
• Round-trip fare by ship, between Busan and Japan if a visa renewal trip is needed (approx. US $300)
• Transportation costs to and from the airport
• Cost of overnight accommodation in a hotel or motel if necessary, due to late flight arrival in Korea (approx. US $40 upwards)

How to Apply

If you wish to join the Kyol Che retreat please complete and return the Kyol Che Application form by downloading or submitting the online form with a recent photograph of yourself. All applications should be submitted minimum of 1 week before your entry date. Seats are limited for the retreat and applications will be considered on a first come, first serve basis, so apply early to avoid disappointment.
Please ensure that you:
• indicate the period that you wish to sit with exact dates
• provide full information about your meditation experience
• attach a recent photograph
• complete the application form fully with signature (check box for online form)
All applications need to be reviewed and approved by the Musangsa Guiding Teachers. This also applies to former retreat participants.

Retreat Fee

Currency Per Week Per Month Full 3 Months
Korean Won 300,000 1,000,000 2,800,000

Average Temperatures

April May June July August September October
High °C 19.3 26.0 28.9 29.5 31.2 27.7 22.0
Low °C 7.8 13.0 18.5 22.1 22.6 16.5 10.1

For more information please contact the Musangsa Office.

What is a Retreat?

What is a Retreat?

Zen Master Dae Bong

First, retreat is a dry cleaning machine. Our brain and body is a No.1. best computer but it has lots of dust. Desire, anger and ignorance dust, also many opinions dust. So we use this don’t know soap, put down our opinion, desire, anger and ignorance, only follow situation together and keep a big question, just don’t know mind, and that’s cleaning, cleaning, cleaning our consciousness. After kyol che our consciousness is cleaner. So kyol che is a big dry cleaning machine.

Second, retreat is a Dharma gasoline station. Our life has energy. That’s karma energy, karma gasoline. But karma means ‘I, my, me.’ Put down ‘I, my, me,’ then you and the universe become one. Then Dharma energy, universal energy comes into you. So when we do kyol che together, we put down all our opinions; my opinion, my situation, my condition. Then the correct opinion, correct situation and correct condition appears, so we and the universe are one, and then Dharma gasoline comes in. Then after kyol che, you have Dharma energy. Having Dharma energy means being in harmony with the universe and being able to follow the correct way. You come to kyol che with many karma gasoline, then take out this karma gasoline so that Dharma gasoline comes in. So we say kyol che is also a Dharma gasoline station.

Next, many people in this world are hungry. There are two kinds of hungry people; body hungry and mind hungry. Body hungry people cannot get enough food, then starve and die. They have suffering but not so much make suffering for others. Mind hungry people have enough but want more, ‘I want more, I want more.’ So mind hungry people have suffering but also make much suffering for others. So when we come to retreat we attain Dharma, then when we go home we make Dharma food. Make Dharma candy, Dharma cookies, Dharma cake, Dharma rice and Dharma bread, and all kinds of great Dharma food. Then share Dharma food to take away people’s mind hunger and make world peace. So, retreat is a Dharma food factory.

Come to retreat, clean your consciousness in our dry cleaning machine, get Dharma gasoline, Dharma energy, then in your life make Dharma food, give to others to take away their mind hunger, and take away this world’s suffering. That’s our practice and our job.
Kyol Che Rules

Musangsa Kyol Che Rules

1. Kyol Che is held in silence. Zen Master Seung Sahn says, "Silence is better than holiness". Bodhidharma sat silently in Sorim for 9 years. Silence deepens your practice and benefits you and others. If your job does not require talking, keeping silence will help you. You should also keep silence in your room.

2. Be on time for all practice periods, Dharma talks and meals. Always go to the Buddha Hall, Zen room, or Dining room punctually when the moktak is hit.

3. Do not enter or leave the Zen room after the chukpi (bamboo clapper) is hit for sitting meditation unless you are going to or returning from an interview.

4. Walking meditation is a continuation of sitting meditation. You may leave the Zen room during walking meditation when necessary. When re-entering the Zen room, do so quietly at your proper place in the line. Always walk softly in the Zen room, especially when walking on the stairs.

5. Everyone must come to all practice periods. If you are sick and cannot attend, please write a note to the Head Monk before the practice period that you will miss.

6. Everyone must come to all formal meals.​ They are a part of our practice. If you do not wish to eat a meal, you should still attend.

7. Do not enter the kitchen unless you have been given work to do there.

8. Do not use the small kitchen under the staircase in the Zen building during chanting or sitting meditation.

9. Mobile phones, personal computers or any communication equipment may not be used during the retreat.​ Please deposit your mobile phone with the temple office during registration. All outside communications are suspended for the duration of the retreat. In the case of an emergency, contact the Head Monk.

10. Do not walk up the mountain alone if you do not know the way.

11. Men and women should not go for walks outside alone with each other. ​That is, one man with one woman. You should go in groups of three people or more.

12. Men and women should not go into each other’s rooms.​
The exception to this rule is when teachers need to give private interviews or consultations to students.

13. Do not come to the temple office unless you have been asked by one of the Directors.

14. Do not talk to visitors to the temple.​ If they approach you, please direct them to the temple office or the Director.

15. The head monk will control the opening and closing of windows in the Zen room.​ If you have a problem or request, let the head monk know.

16. Do not feed or play with any animals.

17. Do not shave your head if you are a layperson.​ If you wish to keep your hair short, it should be at least 2 cm long (about 1 inch).

18. Bowing robes or working jackets and socks are to be worn whenever you are outside of your room.

19. Do not wear brightly colored clothing during the retreat.​ Do not wear hats in the Zen room.

20. The use of tobacco and alcohol are detrimental to our practice. ​Retreat participants should not consume alcohol or smoke tobacco while on retreat.

21. Personal books should not be read during the retreat.​ Only the books provided by the Zen Center may be used. Read them in the tea room during breaks and return them to the bookshelf.

22. Everyone will have a job during the work period each day, mostly cleaning the temple and working in the kitchen.​Work period is part of formal practice. Please attend to your work period assignment with mindfulness.

23. Do your laundry during the scheduled times. ​Don't work on your laundry during walking meditation. If you hang your laundry on the lines outside, take it down before evening practice.

24. Do not bring your watch into the Zen room if it makes a beeping sound.

25. Bedroom lights should be switched off by 9.20 p.m.

26. If you have a health problem, inform the Health Master.

27. If you need something, write a note to the Head Monk, House Master, or appropriate director.

28. If these rules are consistently broken by any participant, they will be given two formal warnings by the Head Monk and a third warning by the Guiding Teacher.​ If the rule concerned is still broken, the person may be asked to leave.

29. All exceptions to these rules or any temple guidelines can only be made at the sole discretion of the Guiding Teacher, Joshil Zen Master Dae Bong Sunim and Seon Won Jang Vice-abbot Hye Tong Sunim JDPS.

Guidelines for basic Korean temple etiquette * Always allow teachers, monks and nuns to go ahead of you when leaving the Buddha Hall or Zen Room.
* Always walk behind people seated in meditation.
* Learn the correct bowing form and be mindful of bowing correctly.
* Always use both hands while serving food or giving or receiving something to anyone.
* Do not sit at any place with your legs and feet sticking out, pointing at a Buddha or any person.
* Do not blow your nose in the Zen room or during meals. Please wipe your nose quietly with a tissue or handkerchief instead.

Musangsa • Chungcheongnam-do Gyeryong-shi, Eomsa-myeon Hyangjeoksan-gil 129, 32816 South Korea • +82-42-841-6084/1293 • info@musangsa.orgDirections
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