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Temporary spirit tablet

Temporary spirit tablet of a deceased person made of white fabric for use at funeral rites before the sinju (Kor. 신주, Chin. 神主, spirit tablet) is made. Honbaek is a type of sinwi (Kor. 신위, Chin. 神位, spirit tablets) where the spirit of the deceased temporarily resided. In traditional funeral rites, the ancestral spirit is transferred to different objects in three stages until it is completely entrusted to the sinju, the spirit tablet proper. The first step is to transfer the spirit of the decease

Korean Rites of Passage



The legend of Bulgasari narrates the story, from late Goryeo, of a frightening monster that kept growing as it ate up all the metal around. Bulgasari is an imaginary monster, sometimes found painted on folding screens or chimneys due to the folk belief that it provided protection against disasters and fire. The book Songnamjapji (Trivial Learnings by Songnam), from late Joseon, records that “In the final years of Songdo (Goryeo’s capital) lived a monster that ate up all the metal scraps, and peo

Korean Folk Literature


Field Play

Deulnoreum (Kor. 들놀음, Chin. 野遊, lit. field play) is a traditional mask play held during the Great Full Moon Festival (the fifteenth of the first lunar month) in Dongnae-gu and Suyeong-dong of Nam-gu, both located in the Busan administrative area. In the past deulnoreum was generally the name used by the elderly and women in the area, to refer to the mask play, while the “learned people” and the younger people more oftenly referred to it as yaryu (Kor. 야류, Chin. 野遊). Both names mean “outdoor play

Korean Seasonal Customs


General Nam I Ritual

Nam I Janggun Sadangje (Kor. 남이장군사당제, Chin. 南怡將軍祠堂祭, lit. service at the Shrine of General Nam I) refers to a ceremony that honors the memory of the famous general Nam I (1441-1468) of the early Joseon period (1392- 16th century). Nam I, a brave general who was accused of treason and executed, was deified and worshipped in the shamanistic faith of the central regions along with other illustrious military heroes of the past, such as Choe Yeong (1316-1388) and General Im Gyeong-eop (1594-1646). Th

Korean Seasonal Customs


Korean Hacky Sack

Jegi chagi (Kor. 제기차기, lit. hacking jegi) is a game similar to the Western game of hacky sack. It is played by kicking a shuttlecock-like object called a jegi (Kor. 제기) into the air. A seasonal game associated with the Lunar New Year holidays and winter time in general, jegi chagi is mostly played by children. Jegi chagi originates from a ball game called chukguk (Kor. 축국, Chin. 蹴鞠) that dates back to antiquity. Both jegi and jegi chagi are vernacular translations of the Chinese word chukguk. Ch

Korean Seasonal Customs


Kitchen God

Jowang is a fire god that governs the kitchen and oversees the fortunes of the family and the health and welfare of their descendants. The kitchen is a place where humans can control and use fire for their purposes, where fire is used to cook food and to heat the house. The kitchen is also a space for the women of the house, and thus Jowang mother-in-law. The kitchen deity worshipped by the general public is a goddess, referred to as Jowanggaksi (Kitchen Maiden Goddess) or Jowanghalmae (Kitchen

Korean Folk Beliefs


Bride’s post-wedding journey to the groom’s home

Bride’s journey from her maiden home to the groom’s home, where she will spend the rest of her life, after marriage. The time of a bride’s departure for the groom’s home after marriage varies greatly. Some newly married women spent a year at home before going to live with her in-laws for the rest of her life (which is called muk-sinhaeng or haemugi), while others spend a month (dalmugi) or three days (samil-sinhaeng). When the bride moves to the groom’s home the same day as the wedding it is cal

Korean Rites of Passage