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KimSiduk

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KimSiduk

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Possessed Shaman

Gangsinmu is a possessed shaman capable of trance channeling, who has been initiated into the calling through a possession ritual (naerimgut) after experiencing spirit sickness. The term is an academic categorization of shamans according to their initiation process, used in contrast to seseummu, or hereditary shaman. The former directly channels the language of the gods through his or her body, while the latter acts as an agent that delivers the gods’ words. Possessed shamans are defined by thre

Korean Folk Beliefs

Meeting at the Midpoint

Banbogi (Kor. 반보기) stands for “meeting at the midpoint” and refers to the custom of meeting one’s relatives who live in other villages at the midpoint between the villages. The custom takes place after Chuseok (Kor. 추석, Chin. 秋夕, Harvest Festival, the fifteenth of the eighth lunar month). At this time in traditional farming communities, the pace of life slowed down markedly after a busy farming season. People could finally afford to get together with their family and other relatives. The custom

Korean Seasonal Customs

Ancestor God

Josang is a god widely worshipped in Korean folk religion, which in narrow terms refers to one’s immediate ancestors or offspring, but in broader terms refers to any deceased relative or unrelated soul that can affect the family. As a household god, Josang refers to one’s immediate ancestors or offspring, but they are viewed as transcendental beings rather than blood relations. On the other hand, Josang as a shamanic god includes all immediate and extended family, both male and female, and all o

Korean Folk Beliefs

Three-day funeral

Funeral in which the body of the deceased is buried on the third day after death. The length of the mourning period or the funeral period is closely related to the social status of the deceased. The more famous the deceased person was in life, the longer the period, and vice versa. A longer period of mourning means that the mourners are large in number and varied in range. Yet it mainly implies that the period includes successive days of the role of the deceased when they are alive. The higher t

Korean Rites of Passage

Lit. funeral rites

Rites that deal with death, the last stage of human life, and normalize succession of the family lineage. The last process humans go through is death, and rites that deal with death are called sangnye (Kor. 상례, Chin. 喪禮, lit. funeral rites). There are two main religious perspectives on death. One considers death as something fearful. In this case, the focus is on treating the dead body as quickly as possible and separating the deceased from this life. The other considers death as part of the pro

Korean Rites of Passage

Lit. bathing and shrouding

Bathing the body of a deceased person, dressing it in su-ui (Kor. 수의, Chin. 襚衣, lit. burial garments), and shrouding it to enclose it in a coffin. It consists of three procedures: seup (bathing and dressing the body of the deceased), soryeom (shrouding the body of the deceased in a cloth), and daeryeom (shrouding the body of the deceased in a cloth one more time and placing it in the coffin). Seup is bathing the body of the deceased and dressing it in su-ui on the day of death. Soryeom is shroud

Korean Rites of Passage

Wearing five different types of mourning clothes

A system in which five different types of mounrning clothes are worn depending on the mourners’ degree of closeness to the deceased person. When Confucian funerals became the cultural standard in the Joseon period, mourning clothes were worn strictly according to obokjedo as described in “Jujagarye” (朱子家禮, Family Rituals of Zhu Xi). The mourning clothes were divided into five kinds depending on the mourner’s closeness to the deceased, seniority, and gender. Getting along with relatives, respecti

Korean Rites of Passage

Relocation of a grave

Moving a corpse or remains, buried, enshrined or naturally interred, to such new locations as a grave, a shrine or a natural burial site. The traditional ijang procedure is similar to that of burial. Once ijang is decided, a burial site is first selected, and then a coffin and hyo (Kor. 효, Chin. 絞, lit. silk string) for yeom (wrapping a dressed corpse with hemp cloth or a thin blanket) are prepared. To prepare for burial, gwangjung (Kor. 광중, Chin. 壙中, pit to bury the coffin in) is dug, and the a

Korean Rites of Passage

Individual family ceremonies

Tradition by which the same rite or ceremony is performed in a different manner according to family, region or political faction. The manner in which ceremonies or rites are performed is determined not so much by their fundamental nature but the order of a hierarchical society, propriety or environment of the ceremony or ritual surrounding the different elements constituting them. The rules and regulations were those provided by ritual literature. However, most of the texts, including “Jujagarye

Korean Rites of Passage

Shrine painting

A painting depicting a shrine with an empty box in the center, where a paper spirit tablet is attached during an ancestral memorial rite. The tradition of using shrine paintings called “Gammoyeojaedo” is related with the establishment of Confucian ancestral memorial rites in Joseon. As part of their efforts to establish Confucian traditions in family rites and ceremonies, the founders of the Joseon dynasty placed greater importance on performing funeral and memorial rites according to Confucian

Korean Rites of Passage

Graveside rites

Memorial rite held at an ancestor’s grave. There are several different terms for the memorial rite held at the ancestor’s grave according to region, including sije (Kor. 시제, Chin. 時祭, lit. memorial rite at designated times), sisa (Kor. 시사, Chin. 時祀, lit. rite at designated times), sihyang (Kor. 시향, Chin. 時享, lit. entertainment at designated times), myosa (Kor. 묘사, Chin. 墓祀, lit. rite held at the grave), and hoejeon (Kor. 회전, Chin. 會奠, lit. gathering for a ceremony). While myoje refers to the mem

Korean Rites of Passage

Offering of liquor to ancestral spirits

Part of a memorial rite where liquor is offered to an ancestral spirit to ask for good fortune. As part of a memorial rite, heonjak signifies communication with the ancestral spirits and asking them to bring good fortune. Liquor was offered because it was thought that the ecstatic state achieved through drinking was a medium for communicating with the spirits. It was believed that by drinking liquor, the living and the spirits could communicate with each other in this state of ecstasy, which is

Korean Rites of Passage

Four major family ceremonies

The four major family ceremonies that ordinary Korean people experience in their lifetime, the coming of age, weddings, funerals, and ancestral rites. The term gwanhonsangje was used first in “Yegi” (禮記, The Classic of Rites). In Korea, marriage and funeral ceremonies similar to Confucian ceremonies were performed during the Three Kingdoms period, but it is not certain that people of those times had a clear concept of the four major ceremonies performed in the Confucian manner. It was thanks to

Korean Rites of Passage

Earthenware Jar

Danji is an earthenware jar that is worshipped as a sacred entity enshringing a household god, or as the deity itself. These jars are small and round, bulging around the center, and their names vary according to the enshrined deity. Daegamdanji is the sacred entity for Daegamsin (State Official God), who oversees a family’s material fortune. This jar is usually enshrined in the grain shed, but sometimes in a corner of the inner chamber, the open hall, the kitchen, or outdoors in some cases. The

Korean Folk Beliefs

Ancestor God

Josang is a god widely worshipped in Korean folk religion, which in narrow terms refers to one’s immediate ancestors or offspring, but in broader terms refers to any deceased relative or unrelated soul that can affect the family. As a household god, Josang refers to one’s immediate ancestors or offspring, but they are viewed as transcendental beings rather than blood relations. On the other hand, Josang as a shamanic god includes all immediate and extended family, both male and female, and all o

Korean Folk Beliefs

Gambal

Cloth wrappers used to protect the feet from cold when traveling a long way. Gambal are largely divided into two types. The first type was designed to protect the feet when straw shoes were worn on long trips by winding cloth around the feet over the socks. The other type was designed to protect the feet from cold, also by winding cloth over the socks. At a time when shoes and protective winter gear were not well developed gambal were the only means to protect the feet. Therefore, these foot w

Korean Clothing

Gwallyebok

Attire worn by boys at their coming-of-age ceremony. As indicated by the term gwallye (Kor. 관례 Chin. 冠禮 lit. hat wearing rite), the hat rite formed the main part of Korea’s traditional coming-of-age ceremony. For the ceremony, boys put their hair up in a topknot and on top of it wore a hat such as a hood (bokgeon), headscarf (dugeon), or gat (traditional formal hat). In traditional Korean society, wearing a hat signified the transition from boy to man. The coming-of-age ceremony was usually held

Korean Clothing

Gyeryebok

Attire worn by girls at their coming-of-age ceremony. Gyerye (Kor. 계례, Chin. 笄禮, lit. binyeo ritual) is the term for a girl’s coming-of-age ceremony, when she puts her hair up and wears an ornamental hair pin called binyeo for the first time. When a girl was to be married she would go through the ritual of undoing her braided ponytail tied with a ribbon, then putting her hair up in a chignon and securing it with a binyeo. Even if they were not about to be married, girls 15-20 years old went thr

Korean Clothing

Junggu Memorial Service

Junggu charye (Kor. 중구차례, Chin. 重九茶禮, lit. Junggu tea-offering ceremony) refers to the memorial service held on Jungyangjeol (Kor. 중양절, Chin. 重陽節, the ninth of the ninth lunar month). In general, memorial services in traditional society were held on seasonal holidays such as Seollal (Kor. 설날, Lunar New Year) and in fall on Chuseok (Kor. 추석, Chin. 秋夕, Harvest Festival, the fifteenth of the eighth lunar month). However, when the new crops of the year were not ripe enough to be offered on the ances

Korean Seasonal Customs

Yugeon

Head scarf, or hood, worn indoors by Confucian scholars without government positions or saengwon (classics licentiate). During the Joseon Dynasty, clothes and hats carried such great significance that a system was established stipulating that different clothes and hats be worn according to rank. Keeping propriety meant wearing outer robes or coats (po) over jacket and pants (baji jeogori) for men or jacket and skirt (chima jeogori) for women and geon or gwan on the head. For this reason, the men

Korean Clothing

Choeui

Upper garment worn by the chief mourner at Confucian-style funeral rites held in traditional Korean society. Choeui refers to the upper garment of mourning clothes. They are made based on the guides provided by the Family Rites of Zhu Xi. On the front chest of the top a piece of cloth called choe is attached. Here the word choe (衰) means, “to snap, ” “to break, ” “to suppress, ” and thus represents the suppression of grief. For this reason, coarse hemp cloth carrying such meaning is used to mak

Korean Clothing

Choesang

A lower garment worn by the chief mourner at a Confucian style funeral. It can be inferred from the saying “No guest shall be met without wearing choebok” found in Confucius’ Family Teachings (孔子家語) that mourning clothes were worn by the Chinese people even before the common era. “Barbarians of the East” in the “History of Wei” from Record of the Three Kingdoms says that “white mourning dress is worn.” However, since no image of the white mourning clothes is provided, it is hard to know what thi

Korean Clothing
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