A religion going back to the Stone Age is enjoying a newfound
popularity in modern-day Korea. Once reviled and driven underground,
shamanism today is thriving in temples and cafes. Clients pay mostly
female shamans hefty fees to call spirits from the dead, settle old
scores, and foretell their future. Vancouver broadcaster Gloria Chang,
who was born in Korea, returns to her native land to investigate the amazing powers of knife walking, fortune-telling shamans.
|Shaman Chung Seon-Dok dances during a kut for a client
To shamans Kim Kum Hwa
, Lee Ji-Nyo
, Chung Seon-Dok
and Yi Soon-Eh
, and to Kim Dong Kyu
for the introductions.
To Dr. Laurel Kendall
, Curator of Asian Ethnographic Collections at the American Museum of Natural History. Her newest book, Shamans, Nostalgias, and the IMF
(University of Hawaii Press) will be out in October 2009.
To the Jack Webster Foundation for the Jack Webster Research Fellowship, without whose support this story would not have been possible.
Gloria Chang is a writer and broadcaster based in Vancouver, Canada. Ten Thousand Spirits is the second part of a cultural adventure she embarked on to uncover her own story in South Korea. See the first one here: The Sea Women