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Rice with Leftovers

Goldongban (Kor. 골동반, Chin. 骨董飯) is a dish made with leftovers, eaten on Seotdal Geumeum (Kor. 섣달그믐, Lunar New Year’s Eve). The idea is that families must get rid of all their leftovers before the year draws to an end. Mixing various ingredients with rice results in a dish similar to bibimbap (Kor. 비빔밥), which is consumed on the last day of the lunar year. Goldongban is described in the “Gudong Shisanshuo” (Kor. 골동십삼설, Chin. 骨董十三說), a book written by a Ming-Chinese author by the name of Dong Qic

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


Tightrope Walking

Traditional Korean tightrope-walking performance is referred to as jultagi (Kor. 줄타기) and, in contrast with similar foreign genres, combines acrobatics with dancing, singing, and humor. The tightrope walker exchanges jokes with another member of the troupe who is standing on the ground. The accompanying music is played on string and wind instruments. Jultagi was one of the most popular forms of entertainment in traditional Korea. The performances attracted not only large crowds of common people,

Korean Seasonal Customs


Stone Fight

Seokjeon (Kor. 석전, Chin. 石戰, lit. stone fight) was a team game in which two opposing teams threw stones at each other. Prior to the game the villagers divided into two groups and aligned themselves on either side of a street in such a way that the teams faced each other at a distance of several hundred feet. The group whose members retreated first during the fight lost the game. Seokjeon is also known as pyeonjeon (Kor. 편전, Chin. 便戰, 邊戰, lit. team battle), seokjeon nori (Kor. 석전놀이, Chin. 石戰戱, li

Korean Seasonal Customs



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


Paper Flower

Jihwa, or paper flowers, are ornaments used for expressing devotion to the gods in a shamanic ritual. Paper flower ornaments, also called sinmyeongkkot (spirit flower) or muhwa (shamanic flower), are considered sacred, on display for the purpose of entertaining the gods, of creating a venue where the deity will be surrounded by flowers while receiving the ritual, and they come in many different kinds with different uses and meanings. Geolliphwa (collector god flower) is used in bigscale rituals

Korean Folk Beliefs


Land Tutelary God

Teoju, or Land Tutelary God, resides on the grounds of a house, overseeing peace in the family and safety on the grounds. This deity is also called Teojusin, Teojutdaegam (Land Tutelary Official God), Teojuhalmae (Land Tutelary Grandmother) and Jisin (Earth God), and is worshipped in the form of the sacred entity teojutgari, placed in the backyard or by the sauce jar terrace. Teojutgari is an earthenware jar filled with the best grains of rice among the first harvest of the fall, covered with a

Korean Folk Beliefs