Shrine for Village Gods(國師堂)
Guksadang is a shrine for village gods that protect a community.
Guksa, guksu, guksi are all words for “deity” and gusu means “mountain of the gods.” Guksadang, therefore, are generally located on mountaintops around the country, and also signify a “landing place for Cheonsin (Celestial God).” Variations of the term include guksudang and guksidang. One of the few that still serve as a communal shrine today is the Mt. Inwang Guksadang in Seoul’s Jongno district.
Along the mid-western coast, guksadang is located on a high peak behind the village, at a further distance than sansindang (shrine for mountain god) or seonangdang (shrine for village guardian deity), to serve its function as guardian and border of a village. When all the tutelary shrines are located behind the village, guksadang takes on the position of high shrine (sangdang) and sansindang or seonangdang the low shrine (hadang).
In the central regions, guksadang is located on the top of the mountain behind the village, sansindang on the mountainside, seonangdang at the village entrance, with jangseung (village guardian post) and sotdae (sacred pole) at its side. Today, while sansindang and seonangdang are still found, guksadang are gradually disappearing in Korean villages, along with guardian posts and poles.
Guksadang served as the shrine for communal faith, and at the same time as a place of shamanic worship. Guksadang is closely associated with the Cheonsin (Celestial God) faith, making up an ancient form of village deity worship in Korea.