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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

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General Gang Gam-chan

This legend, in different variations, depicts Gang Gam-chan (948-1031), the renowned military commander of Goryeo known as one of the three greatest generals in Korean history, as a supernatural hero. Gang’s mythical accomplishments are recorded in documents and publications including Bohanjip (Collection of Writings to Relieve Idleness) of Goryeo; Yongjaechonghwa (Assorted Writings of Yongjae) of early Joseon; and Haedongijeok (Extraordinary Lives from East of the Sea) of Joseon. Haedongijeok,

Korean Folk Literature

03

Nongsapuri

A series of farming procedures mimicked, or acted out, by a group of performers to the accompaniment of nongak (farmers’ music) rhythms. Like entertainment-oriented nongak performances called pangut, nongsapuri is performed by a group to entertain an audience. It developed in a systematic way mostly in the northern part of Gyeonggi-do Province and the Yeongdong region, where nongak itself can be called nongsapuri nongak. In some parts of the Yeongnam region, nongsapuri is included as part of pan

Korean Folk Arts

04

Yeonggi

Of the flags organized for nongak (farmers’ music), the command flag (yeonggi) is deployed at the front of a nongak troupe with the farming flag (nonggi) and leads the way or serves as a messenger. The flag bears the Chinese character 令 (Kor. yeong), meaning “command.” Although yeonggi is mentioned as one of the military flags in the book on strategy “Sokbyeongjangdoseol” (Kor. 속병장도설, Chin. 續兵將圖說, lit. Illustrated Manual of Military Training and Tactics) written in the 18th century, it is not ce

Korean Folk Arts

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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

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Japsaek

A member of the nongak (farmers’ music) troupe dressed as a certain character who acts out various skits. Japsaek (Kor. 잡색, Chin. 雜色, lit. mixed colors) are referred to as the dwitchibae, the actors who lead a nongak performance along with apchibae, who play musical instruments, the bearers of different flags including the farming community flag (nonggi) and command flag (yeonggi), and the player of the double-reed oboe (saenapsu). The japsaek lead the second half of the performance (dwitgut) ra

Korean Folk Arts

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Prickly Castor-Oil Tree

Eomnamu, or prickly castor-oil tree, particularly its thorny branches, are used in Korean folk religion to chase away evil spirits and illnesses. Kalopanax septemlobus, common name prickly castor-oil tree, is a deciduous tree in the family Araliaceae, which grows around Korea, Japan and China. Its branches are prickly with thorns, believed to scare away evil spirits and diseases, and are hung over gates or room doors in homes at Seol (Lunar New Year). Another related custom is to take malaria pa

Korean Folk Beliefs