Around six million people participated in the Templestay program over the last two decades, of which more than 650,000 (11%) were foreign nationals with different ethnicities.
The year of 2022 marked the 20th anniversary of Templestay since it was launched in 2002, aiming to provide international visitors with an opportunity to experience Korean traditional culture during the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup. Around six million people participated in the program over the last two decades, of which more than 650,000 (11%) were foreign nationals. More noticeable than the number of visitors is that the foreign visitors came from various countries with different ethnicities. In particular, the number of nationalities of the visitors is 205 countries, higher than that of the UN member countries. They also showed a high level of satisfaction, rated at 6.33 out of seven. It proves that Templestay is a cultural experience content everyone can enjoy with comfort in any circumstance.
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Visitors from different nationalities and ethnicities find the program satisfying and comfortable because they can experience the daily life of Buddhist practitioners in traditional temples treasured with a 1,700-year-long history of Buddhism, something people can never experience anywhere else. The program participants take some time to fully reflect on their own while taking a break from the fatigue and stress from daily life by experiencing the programs such as "Chamseon" (Seon meditation), "108 bae" (108 prostrations), and a conversation with a monk over tea in peaceful nature. Such time spent might be allowed only in Korea's Templestay program.
The healing moment, which came from having time to oneself, played a significant role in comforting those tired of the long-standing pandemic. One involved in the program said around 127,000 people participated in Templestay prepared for COVID-19 medical staff, small business owners, and cultural artists affected by the pandemic since 2020. In 2022, marking the 20th anniversary, Templestay went even further and launched a special program with the keyword "sharing" for people who can get easily marginalized in society, such as the elderly, multicultural families, and vulnerable groups. "We feel encouraged to manage the pain and move on after taking a look back on ourselves and clearing the mind while staying in mountain temples," said a Templestay participant.
So far, Templestay has seen so many visitors with different backgrounds from various countries joining the program and feeling touched and healed, which shows that it holds the value people can feel across linguistic boundaries. While the expectation about traveling overseas is growing in the post-COVID-19 era, Korea's Templestay will provide a great experience of healing the mind depressed with "COVID-19 Blues" and taking time for oneself. For more information and reservation of Templestay, you can visit Templestay's official English website (eng.templestay.com).