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.

2021/2022 Winter Kyol Che Information

2021/2022 Winter Retreat

November 19, 2021 to February 15, 2022

Please apply after carefully reviewing the differences from the previous Retreat information due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

*The entry dates are on every Saturday.

*Minimum application period: 1 week

(If possible, apply on a Saturday on the day you leave retreat)

* Intensive week

              i.        January 3-10, 2022

              ii.        Only those with experience participating in retreat can participate

              iii.        If permitted, you should arrive at Musangsa by 4:00 pm on January 2, a day before the Intensive week.
(Required submissions related to coronavirus testing are stated below)
(Intensive week Dharma Talk is on 2nd January 7p.m.)

              iv.        You cannot enter/exit during the intensive week period.

              v.        Intensive week ends at 3 am on January 10th, participants can depart to home at any time after that.

              vi.        Participants who wish to depart after January 10 can depart after continuing to participate in retreat till at least the morning of January 15.


1. Domestic participants

              i.        Certificate to confirm the completion of two doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

             ii.        You must also submit a confirmation of one negative COVID-19 PCR test;
The PCR test should be completed one day before the approved entry date.


        Take your COVID-19 test before your entry date.

        You can get the results the next morning by phone on the day of your entry.

        Submit or notify Musangsa of the test results right away by taking a screenshot of your result on your phone (text message) and send to the temple retreat organizer's email: office@musangsa.org
(If the tests are negative, please arrive at the temple by 4:00 p.m. on your entry day.)


2. Overseas participants

              i.        Certificate to confirm the completion of two doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

             ii.        You must also submit a confirmation of one negative COVID-19 PCR test;
The PCR test should be completed one day before the approved entry date.
Overseas participants will have to quarantine in a government designated facility or a self-arranged place for two weeks (14-days) upon their arrival to Korea (this currently includes two or three further COVID-19 tests.
Please check the current guidelines from the Korean government at the time of your planned arrival in Korea, as they may change suddenly without notice) Please contact the temple with any questions or for further instructions if the Korean Government guidelines for new arrivals have changed.

*** If the Korean government enforces future restrictions caused by the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, the in-person participation for Retreat may be canceled. In that case, we will notify you individually as soon as possible in addition to making a public announcement. ***


Kyol Che (90 day Zen retreat) at Musangsa

Kyol Che at Musangsa is on a schedule that is comprised of focused formal practice, work practice, hiking and other activities as a community retreat experience in a traditional Zen temple setting. All are welcome to join and benefit from this unique opportunity of practicing together with an international community of monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen practitioners, and receiving regular teaching from the guiding teachers.

Kyol Che at Musangsa can be a valuable experience in making a foundation for Zen practice when returning to your respective home countries. Teaching at Musangsa in conducted in English. Please read carefully the following information before submitting your application.

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 for a 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.

How to Apply

If you wish to join the Kyol Che retreat please complete and return the Kyol Che Application form by submitting the online application directly. All applications should be submitted a 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 with approval from the guiding teachers, so apply early to avoid disappointment. All applications need to be reviewed and approved by the Musangsa Guiding Teachers. This also applies to former retreat participants. 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 (recommended)
- any medical conditions



- complete the application form fully with signature (check the Declaration box in the online form, and make sure all the required fields are filled out completely, or your application will not be processed. If you do not receive a reply within one week, please re-submit your online application or email office@musangsa.org)

Arrival & Registration

- International participants entering MUST arrive at Musangsa two days before entry date at 12 noon.
- Participants travelling locally from Korea MUST arrive at Musangsa one day before entry date at 12 noon.
- Designated entry dates are on Saturdays ONLY except where indicated.
- For each designated Saturday entry date, please arrive at Musangsa by 12 noon promptly.
- If you miss the arrival time above, ***PLEASE MAKE SURE TO ARRIVE NO LATER THAN 4PM ON YOUR ENTRY DATE.*** An important orientation will take place thereafter.
- Exit from the retreat is after lunch on your designated exit date.

Kyol Che Fees

Adult: 1 week 300,000 won, 1 month 1 million won
Student: 1 week 150,000 won, 1 month 600,000 won
*The above student rate is a 50% discount for students under 25 years of age. Rates are based on the best options for participants; please bring your current student ID upon registration. Please allow the temple to keep a copy of your ID for our records.

Basic Rules

Participants who join the retreat should agree to the following:
- Follow the Retreat and Temple Rules of Musangsa and the Kwan Um School of Zen
- Observe silence during the retreat according to program
- Participate fully in daily scheduled practice
- Not shave your head if you are a layperson (you should keep at least 1 cm 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 during orientation on this as part of their practice).
- Not to have any outside communications during the retreat
- Not to use mobile phones, personal computers, tablets, and any personal telecommunication or entertainment devices during the retreat. Upon arrival, your devices will be taken for safekeeping at the temple until you exit from the retreat.


Due to the fluctuating Covid19 pandemic conditions, for international participants, please check with the South Korean embassy in your home country for travel regulations, visa eligibility and quarantine rules prior to submitting your Kyol Che application to Musangsa. If you are coming from overseas, we can provide you with travel directions from Incheon Airport to Musangsa. If you are joining the retreat on an entry date after the start, plan your arrival at least one day or more before your entry date to adjust to the local situation, especially if you are coming from abroad. You can stay in a hotel/motel accommodation outside the temple until the entry date, in the town near Musangsa called Eomsari, or in Seoul. Please make your travel plans according to COVID-19 regulation requirements.

Documents Required

Please make sure you have a valid passport. 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. 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. 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, please make sure to refer to the Korea Immigration website for details on your visa arrangements and your retreat entry/exit dates prior to making your travel plans.

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. For those who qualify for temporary extension of stay (such as day trip to Japan) Musangsa can provide information and help you to arrange such short trips during the Kyol Che schedule. This may not be possible due to COVID-19 fluctuating changes.


* Citizens of countries which automatically receive 6 month tourist visas to Korea (such as Canada) are able to sit the full 90 day retreat without a visa extension. *Please check with your home country's regulations for any changes to this condition during COVID-19.

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. If this occurs, the temple Director can be contacted by e-mail, fax, or telephone and you will be notified.


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. Shirts with collars should not be worn. Round-neck shirts, T-shirts and sweaters are best. These 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. Please check the temperature chart below and prepare your personal clothes accordingly. General retreat attire etiquette in a temple: wear socks in any public area; wear short or long-sleeved top under the bowing robe, jacket or vest at all times regardless of season. Bring your own outdoor coat, hiking shoes, hat, scarf and gloves. If you have taken five precepts or more in the Kwan Um School of Zen, please bring your ojo kasa and long robe (as appropriate) for chanting practice.


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. The temple does not 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 personal transportation costs. This may include:
- 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 (yeo-gwan) if necessary, due to late flight arrival in Korea (approx. US $40 upwards).
- Please take into consideration COVID-19 travel restrictions and quarantine requirements when planning your trip.

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 • office@musangsa.orgDirections
©2021 Musangsa • Website by Wil