Bujeong, literally meaning “uncleanness, ” is a term that refers to all forms of impurities that can damage the sanctity of a ritual throughout its process.
Bujeongtada, meaning, “to be affected by uncleanness, ” is an expression used to refer to the impact of impure elements. In order to prevent the effects of uncleanness, many taboos (geumgi) are observed, and thus in Korean folk religion impurities and taboos are closely related. Uncleanness is caused by factors related to birth, women, death, and time or space associated with the outside or the other.
To overcome the impact of uncleanness, two types of procedures are observed, bujeonggarigi (covering uncleanness) and bujeong gasigi (eradicating uncleanness). The former takes place prior to a ritual and is strictly observed, while the latter is executed in the course of a ritual. The two procedures are closely related and interact throughout the process of the ritual.
Bujeong garigi includes all activity that contributes to preventing impurities starting from the selection of the ritual date (taegil) up to the ritual. Hanging taboo ropes (geumjul) is an active means of keeping out impurities during this period, by marking sacred boundaries. Lefthand lay straw rope is used for the taboo rope, which is sometimes supplemented with red clay (hwangto), salt water, clear water, water with red pepper powder, sprinkled around the rope.
Bujeonggasigi refers to acts of cleansing to eliminate impurities that can occur in the course of a ritual. An example is georibujeong, or street cleansing, which is observed as part of a village ritual to eradicate impurities that occur when a large group of people enter the ritual venue. Shamanic rituals also include the segment bujeonggeori to cleanse impurities at the shrine where the ritual is staged.