Opened in 1983, Bugok Hawaii is one part hot springs resort, one part amusement park, one part outdoor attractions, and one part a display of Buddhist hell. Wait, what? Don’t ask me how all of these parts came together, as I genuinely do not know. Broken down into its smaller parts, there’s plenty to see and do around the premises – and plenty of weird, bizarre stuff that makes you go �?huh?’. The attached hotel is upscale, but pricey; consider any of the other hotels in the area for a somewhat cheaper stay.

UPDATE February 2020: I’m sorry to say that this place appears to be closed – consider this a relic of the past of places that were…

Destination: Bugok Hawaii AKA Buddhist hell – where water park meets Buddhist hell (NSFW) (Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea - South Korea -

Oh, yes, and the aforementioned life-size models of creatures from Predator and Alien. These are hiding by many of the double doors, and might be worth avoiding if you have young kids.

Destination: Bugok Hawaii AKA Buddhist hell – where water park meets Buddhist hell (NSFW) (Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea - South Korea -

While any of these attractions could keep a visitor busy for awhile, we decided to forego the busy indoor water parks – there were probably more kids in swimsuits here than any other place I’ve seen in Korea.

Destination: Bugok Hawaii AKA Buddhist hell – where water park meets Buddhist hell (NSFW) (Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea - South Korea -

Destination: Bugok Hawaii AKA Buddhist hell – where water park meets Buddhist hell (NSFW) (Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea - South Korea -

Instead, we stepped outside in search of the Buddhist hell we were promised.

Destination: Bugok Hawaii AKA Buddhist hell – where water park meets Buddhist hell (NSFW) (Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea - South Korea -

Perhaps someone’s version of hell – like most games of its kind, the objective is to hit the foamy rubber pad as hard as you can to score more points.

Destination: Bugok Hawaii AKA Buddhist hell – where water park meets Buddhist hell (NSFW) (Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea - South Korea -

Inside the small greenhouse seems best during the winter months and rainy season, but what makes the place weird is outside. Beyond the standard amusement park rides is a section that serves as a giant park, complete with doric columns and a Grecian temple:

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Destination: Bugok Hawaii AKA Buddhist hell – where water park meets Buddhist hell (NSFW) (Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea - South Korea -

If you’re ready for some graphic stone statues, keep reading – otherwise, feel free to click away and enjoy reading something else =)

Destination: Bugok Hawaii AKA Buddhist hell – where water park meets Buddhist hell (NSFW) (Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea - South Korea -

The beginning of the gradual climb. Of the 10 ‘levels’, none seemed worse than any of the others, unlike Dante’s various circles of hell, although you’ll have to rely on the Korean signs to get a lot out of it. Reading the most relevant Wikipedia page I could find seemed to indicate even scholars are confused about how many levels of hell there are. Whatever the belief system may be, enjoy the imagery.

Destination: Bugok Hawaii AKA Buddhist hell – where water park meets Buddhist hell (NSFW) (Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea - South Korea -

Destination: Bugok Hawaii AKA Buddhist hell – where water park meets Buddhist hell (NSFW) (Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea - South Korea -

Getting crushed alive? Thanks, but I’ll leave the mashing to potatoes.

Ouch – if you’re crying when someone cuts off your hands, you either can’t feel pain or you’re not human. It’s curious how the hand got cut off, and then it moved?

Destination: Bugok Hawaii AKA Buddhist hell – where water park meets Buddhist hell (NSFW) (Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea - South Korea -

Now that just looks uncomfortable.

Destination: Bugok Hawaii AKA Buddhist hell – where water park meets Buddhist hell (NSFW) (Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea - South Korea -

Each of the levels features a king passing judgement over a sinner. The extreme differences in light (harsh sun and almost no light inside the building) meant an HDR shot had to be used.

Destination: Bugok Hawaii AKA Buddhist hell – where water park meets Buddhist hell (NSFW) (Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea - South Korea -

Now if there’s any one punishment pictured here that would make me think twice about sinning, it’s this one.

Destination: Bugok Hawaii AKA Buddhist hell – where water park meets Buddhist hell (NSFW) (Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea - South Korea -

The big man himself, at the top of the hill of course. There’s little in the way of a message, no ‘come to Buddha’ moment as one might find in a Christian church.

There’s little in the way of English information, but you’re going more for visuals than explanations anyway. It’s bizarre, unique, and absolutely worth the day trip for anyone seeking an oddball destination. The water parks are grand, and well worth the visit if you have the family in tow. Reaching the more bizarre parts will require some walking, and I’d save that for an adults-only trip.

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Address: Gyeongsangnam-do Changnyeong-gun Bugok-myeon Geomun-ri 195-7
Korean address: 경상남도 창녕군 부곡면 거문리 195-7
Directions: From Daegu’s Seobu Bus Terminal (Seongdangmot station, line 1, exit 3), 14 buses a day make the one hour trip to Bugok.

From Busan’s Seobu Bus Terminal (Sasang station, line 2). 14 buses a day make the 1 hour 10 minute trip to Bugok.

From Seoul’s Nambu Bus Terminal, (Nambu terminal station, line 3), 4 buses a day make the 4 1/2 hour trip to Bugok. Note that there may be a stop along the way to Changnyeong.

Once at Bugok’s Bus Terminal, exit and make two quick lefts. Bugok Hawaii should be in front of you and one of the largest buildings around. Walk to the right for the entrance.

Hours: Varied by attraction – in general, virtually everything is open from 9:30am-6:30pm.
Admission: 16,000 won (gets you entrance to the indoor water park, the outdoor garden, and to the amusement park – note that rides are extra)
Phone: 055-536-6331
Website: www.bugokhawaii.co.kr is the official site. The Korea Tourism Organization has a page on the place, though it doesn’t mention the most interesting parts.

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