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rosehips
02-20-2011, 02:29 AM
Hi all,
Anybody out there Korean? Anyone know about Korean Shamanism? Here's my situation.

My mc is not Korean, but she is a psychic. Her boyfriend is Korean American, with a big family. In a subplot the mc has a couple of angry ghosts invading her home and she can't seem to shake them. What I want to do is create an aunt for the bf who is a Shaman or at least knows a lot about Korean Shamanism; enough to be able to put some sort of protection on the mc's house.

I've done a bit of reading and it does look like there are rituals, but I'm leery of writing about something without better understanding it. I don't want to represent Koreans as superstitious and exotic.

If all else fails, I'd go for some simple talisman or something, rather than a full-blown ritual. You know how Catholic cathedrals have gargoyles to ward off evil spirits. Do Koreans have something that's supposed to do that? A specific herb? Spreading salt? Medallions? Mirrors?

Thanks so much in advance!

mgencleyn
02-20-2011, 07:01 AM
I dunno, but here's an active Korean forum. Maybe they'll help:

http://www.asiafinest.com/forum/index.php?showforum=4

Nadia
02-20-2011, 07:07 AM
Korean shamans called "mudang" did exorcism, but if you're talking about "gui-shin" many believe that they manifest b/c they have some kind of grievances / unfinished business rather than to be just nasty (in general).

rosehips
02-20-2011, 12:33 PM
mgencleyn,
Thank you! I'll definitely be posting this question there.

Nadia,
Oh my gosh you have no idea how pleased I am to have someone to dialogue with about this! These ghosts are murder victims, so they are just what you describe: spirits with unfinished business. The difficulty for my mc is she knows who killed them and she's working on it, but they are being very... intrusive in the mean time. So she's not looking to harm them in any way or even to exorcise them, just to make it so that they can't come into her house and she can get a good night's sleep! Are "gui-shin" what you call the ghosts? Or is that a different sort of shaman? Do you know if anything could be done to block this sort of ghost from an area? In the research I've done I found out that there is a ritual performed by some shaman to protect a village, but nothing about a specific dwelling.

I have it in mind that I may eventually (in a later book) have my mc learn some rituals from the aunt or even go through the ritual to become a shaman herself. Do you know is this would be possible, or are mudang exclusive of non-Koreans?

Can you recommend any literature to me?

Nadia
02-20-2011, 01:13 PM
Oh my gosh you have no idea how pleased I am to have someone to dialogue with about this! These ghosts are murder victims, so they are just what you describe: spirits with unfinished business. The difficulty for my mc is she knows who killed them and she's working on it, but they are being very... intrusive in the mean time. So she's not looking to harm them in any way or even to exorcise them, just to make it so that they can't come into her house and she can get a good night's sleep! Are "gui-shin" what you call the ghosts? Or is that a different sort of shaman? Do you know if anything could be done to block this sort of ghost from an area? In the research I've done I found out that there is a ritual performed by some shaman to protect a village, but nothing about a specific dwelling.

I have it in mind that I may eventually (in a later book) have my mc learn some rituals from the aunt or even go through the ritual to become a shaman herself. Do you know is this would be possible, or are mudang exclusive of non-Koreans?

Can you recommend any literature to me?

The thing is most guishin (ghosts) harass their murderers or look for someone who can make things right, esp. if their spirits are bound to the place for some reason. Or at least that's how most folktales go. They're not very intrusive or abrasive if you're their agent of vengeance. (But if you break your promise, they WILL be cruel.)

I've never heard of non-Korean mudang as it's a Korean thing. I'm not sure exactly how their rites work, but I've seen TV dramas (historical) that have them in colorful clothes and do rites (a very noisy affair it seems). I've never seen a modern mudang do the rites, though I think they're done in some areas.

But the biggest difficulty is going to be due to regional differences. Different areas of Korea practiced it in their own ways. For example, certain areas allowed men & women to be shamans, but others did not (only women could become mudang). Not only that certain types of mudang had a shrine to host their spirit (shin), but others did not because they never received any spirit in order to become mudang. Also the ones who received spirits had multiple ritual robes, while the others did not need those, etc.

Wikipedia has an entry on this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_shamanism But to be honest, I don't know how much stuff you'll be able to find in English. I usually read Korean text directly to get info.

rosehips
02-20-2011, 01:43 PM
The thing is most guishin (ghosts) harass their murderers or look for someone who can make things right, esp. if their spirits are bound to the place for some reason. Or at least that's how most folktales go. They're not very intrusive or abrasive if you're their agent of vengeance. (But if you break your promise, they WILL be cruel.)

That makes sense. I was looking at it as, here are these two people who were murdered and they're pissed. Then they realize that this woman can actually see and hear them, so they express their rage to her. They are also frustrated that it's taking her a while to resolve the situation. In my novel's cosmology, ghosts don't interact with ordinary living people, so they can't harass their murderer directly... although come to think of it, I have considered changing that so they could do poltergeisty things in a later scene.


I've never heard of non-Korean mudang as it's a Korean thing.

Is there a Korean word for "psychic" or "medium"? What would the aunt call my mc? It would be okay if it was pejorative.


I'm not sure exactly how their rites work, but I've seen TV dramas (historical) that have them in colorful clothes and do rites (a very noisy affair it seems).

Noisy how? Singing? Drums? Other instruments? Other sounds?


I've never seen a modern mudang do the rites, though I think they're done in some areas.

But the biggest difficulty is going to be due to regional differences. Different areas of Korea practiced it in their own ways. For example, certain areas allowed men & women to be shamans, but others did not (only women could become mudang). Not only that certain types of mudang had a shrine to host their spirit (shin), but others did not because they never received any spirit in order to become mudang. Also the ones who received spirits had multiple ritual robes, while the others did not need those, etc.

Well, I wanted the aunt to be from a fishing area, and so I just looked at a map and picked Busan. But please feel free to give me a better suggestion, if that's not a good choice, and also if you happen to know about rituals in one specific area. As she's a woman the gender issue doesn't come into play. I can go either way with the shrine and robes, with your guidance.


Wikipedia has an entry on this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_shamanism

Actually, that's where I read about it to begin with, and all other internet sites I've found seem to be the same article, verbatim.


But to be honest, I don't know how much stuff you'll be able to find in English. I usually read Korean text directly to get info.

Yeah... that's why I'm so excited that you responded. I've been asking around and trying to get someone to talk to. I think even if I read about it I might misinterpret, so it's really helpful to be able to ask questions and get clarification. Thank you!

Nadia
02-20-2011, 05:38 PM
Actually old Korean shamanism isn't my area of expertise, so it's going to require a lot of time for me to research, and right now, I don't have the time to do research for other people (since I'm in the middle of working on my own wip & doing WB)

Why not make MC something other than Korean? I highly doubt that there's going to be a whole lot of translated text on Korean shamanism, and it's going to be very difficult to do research unless you can read the language.

rosehips
02-20-2011, 10:40 PM
Well, thank you for your help! You've already given me some great answers. :)

LIVIN
02-21-2011, 09:31 AM
I would like to end the great debate right now. All Koreans are in fact ghosts and all ghosts are in fact Koreans.

You're welcome. :D (Sorry, couldn't help responding to this question that you didn't ask.)

rosehips
02-21-2011, 10:13 AM
Wow, that was... really random.

GradyHendrix
02-21-2011, 06:24 PM
There are some great resources for mudang out there. It's a really amazing bit of Korean culture that doesn't get enough attention. Kids whose moms are mudang often become the victims of bullying and are sometimes regarded as social outcasts, even though the mudang role is very respected. A bunch of Korean horror movies have an ostracized schoolgirl whose mother is a mudang, it's become a pretty common film trope.

Two movies you might want to take a look at:

MUDANG: RECONCILIATION BETWEEN THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
http://koreanfilm.org/docs.html#mudang
This documentary became a word-of-mouth hit in Korea and the first in a wave of documentaries that became box office hits. You may be able to find a copy at your library or check out YouTube, which might have clips.

There's also a great movie called POSSESSED that's not only a good horror movie, but it's also about Christianity in modern day Korea and where it runs up against mudang and older belief systems. Here's a review:
http://twitchfilm.com/reviews/2009/10/k-film-reviews-living-death.php

rosehips
02-21-2011, 09:21 PM
Nice, Grady! Thank you so much. I'm going to check netflix, too. :D