Korean Shamanism Reborn

The Korean Shamanism is probably one of the oldest form of shamanism worldwide . It dates back to pre-historic times . It pre-dates even Buddhism and Taoism . Known as Muism(Mu) and Sinism , the shamanic tradition has centuries old roots in Korea . 


Korean shamanism


The Mu is part of the Northern Shamanic Belt . The birthplace of Mu is central Asia  . It has common roots with the Siberian and Scandinavian shamanic practices .


The sacred rituals of the Korean shamanism were almost lost during the ages


It all began with the spread of Buddhism and Confucianism . But the greatest strike to the Korean shamanismold tradition was dealt in late 19th century .  The protestant missionaries stigmatized the followers of Mu as pagans . The things became even worse with the division of Korea . The North Korea government prohibited the indigenous tradition . Luckily recently the tradition is rising from the ashes . Nowadays approximately 16% of the populations of North Korea are Muism followers .


The mudang (female shaman) or the Baksu (male shaman)  is the intermediary between the realm of spirits and the humans .


There are two ways to become a shaman in Korea . You must either be born in a family of shaman/s or to enter a shaman’s family through marriage . The heredity shamans are dealing with more simple and practical rituals as Gut . The Gut is ceremony which deals with illnesses , and troubled spirits . The ritual can be either private , dealing with the problems of a single person or  communal . The communal rituals concerns more pragmatic problems . They aim to ensure rich harvest and successful hunt .


Another form of shamanic initiation is Sinbyeng (shamanic illness) 


They are called gangsinmudang . The gangsinmudang shaman is chosen directly by the spirits . Their abilities exceeding these of the shamans initiated by heredity. The gangsinmudang dealing with extreme rituals . They are able to fall in deep trance and altered state of consciousness . Through the rituals and dances they communicate with the spirits . They became one with these spirits . When possessed, all the movements in the dance of gangsinmudang are controlled by the spirit .


Korean shamanism


The Korean shamanism is another example of the true power of spiritual shamanic practices . Surviving during the ages and withstanding the oppression to thrive once more . Everyday more and more Koreans are turning to Mu . The beautiful traditions of the Korean shamanism continuing to grow followers every day . Mudang will continue to help people when they need it .


Related Literature

The Life and Hard Times of a Korean Shaman: Of Tales and Telling Tales

by Laurel Kendall


Shamans, Housewives, and Other Restless Spirits

by Laurel Kendall



Korean Shamanist Ritual: Symbols and Dramas of Transformation

by Daniel A. Kister