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NaKyungsoo

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NaKyungsoo

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Ritual for Prevention of Bad Fortune

Aengmagi is a ritual held in the first lunar month to prevent bad fortunes for the coming year. When in the beginning of the year, one’s prospects according to the divination guidebook Tojeongbigyeol (The Secret Divinatory Art of Tojeong) do not prove positive, or when a fortuneteller determines that bad fortunes lie ahead, aengmagi is held to prevent bad events from happening. The ritual is also referred to as aengmaegi or maegi. The ritual generally takes place on Jeongwoldaeboreum(Great Full

Korean Folk Beliefs

Legends of Rocks and Caves

This category of legends narrate the stories of rocks or caves in relation to local history or to their function as landmarks. The subject of these legends are rocks and caves as natural geographical features, which are introduced in myriad folk narratives, including Dangun and Jumong myths, and the legend of Lady Suro, in which a rock that is perceived as a turtle. Most rock legends start out from the shape of the rocks. For example, Ulsan Rock, on Mt. Seorak first got its name from the two s

Korean Folk Literature

Coming-of-age ceremony for young farmers

A village celebration held at home for a young boy who has reached the age where he can earn money in exchange for labor. Food and traditional liquor are prepared to serve villagers. The summer months of June and July according to the lunar calendar are the time of year when vegetation growth is at its peak and farming villages are their busiest. This most vibrant season is when village celebrations are held. Jinsaerye is an annual event held by the entire village. Although there is no fixed ag

Korean Rites of Passage

Musical dance-drama to console mourners

Musical dance-drama performed in Jindo-gun, Jeollanam-do Province, to console chief mourners the night before the funeral procession. Local communities i n the islands off the southwestern part of Korea have a tradition in which villagers gather at a house of mourning and present music, dance and comic dramatic performances to console mourners grieving over the loss of a loved one. Called dasiraegi in Jindo county and bamdarae in Sinan county, the folk performances are still maintained in these

Korean Rites of Passage

Banquet

Celebration of a special occasion with guests and food prepared by the family. Generally, janchi is prepared at home for a specific person, but the range and number of invitations is not fixed. Also, the format varies depending on eagerness or economic circumstances and is not confined to a certain style. Janchi is divided into jeongil janchi and bijeongil janchi. The former refers to a fete that takes place on a fixed day each year, like a birthday party. Some birthdays such as dol (first birth

Korean Rites of Passage

Selling Summer Heat

According to popular belief, deowi palgi (Kor. 더위팔기, lit. selling the summer heat), observed on the fifteenth of the first lunar month (Jeongwol Daeboreum, Kor. 정월 대보름, Great Full Moon Day), helps one cope better with the heat of summer. Saying “My heat” to anyone before the sun rises on this day is supposed to be like ‘selling’ one’s share of summer heat; in other words, it is like passing one’s struggles in the hot summer weather to another person, thus giving one a cooler summer that year. Th

Korean Seasonal Customs

Ganggang Sullae Ring Dance

Ganggang sullae (Kor. 강강술래) is a female-centered ring dance performed on the night of Chuseok (Kor. 추석, Chin. 秋夕, Harvest Festival, the fifteenth of the eighth lunar month). The custom originated in the southwestern part of Korea and is currently observed in most parts of the Korean Peninsula. Arguably the most typical group activity for women, ganggang sullae combines group entertainment with dancing and singing. It is primarily performed outdoors on the night of Chuseok, under the full moon. I

Korean Seasonal Customs

Jeon Bong-jun

This legend narrates the story of the revolutionary Jeon Bong-jun (1855-1895) who was executed for his role as leader of the Donghak Rebellion. Jeon was born in Gobu (present-day Jeongeup), North Jeolla Province, and entered the Donghak (Eastern Learning) faith in 1890 at the age of thirty-five, emerging as the leader of the rebellion four years later. He was in hiding in Sunchang when an insider informed the authorities, which led to his arrest and execution. There are two different narratives

Korean Folk Literature

Songcheon Daljiptaeugi

A custom burning daljip during the night of Jeongwol Daeboreum in Songsan Village of Songcheon-ri, Woldeung-myeon, Suncheon, Jeollanam-do Province. The tradition of burning a daljip in Songsan Village has been transmitted from generation to generation and happily enjoyed by the villagers. It was designated as Intangible Cultural Property No. 24 of Jeollanam-do Province as of January 31, 1994. Songcheon Daljiptaeugi is a combination of various seasonal customs. It has been passed down along with

Korean Folk Arts

Hyeoncheon Sodongpae Nori

A custom mowing weeds with rituals, games, and music passed down to a sodongpae in Hyeoncheon-ri of Sora-myeon, Yeosu, Jeollanam-do Province. Farmers’ cooperatives called dure were organized in rural areas, and there were two types. First, there was a daedongpae, a cooperative with members aged over 20, and a sodongpae, another cooperative with members aged between 16 and 19. Hyeoncheon Sodongpae Nori refers to all forms of games related to the group labors performed during sodongpae. Members of

Korean Folk Arts

Unju Temple

The legend of Unjusa narrates the story of the construction of a thousand Buddha statues and a thousand pagodas at Unju Temple, including a reclining Buddha that the builders were unable to lift up. It is believed that Unju Temple was constructed in Goryeo, but the absence of related records and of structures that are similar in style make it difficult to verify the historical facts surrounding its construction. The identity of the temple’s builder varies according to the tale’s different variat

Korean Folk Literature

Rice from One Hundred Homes

Baekgaban (Kor. 백가반, Chin. 百家飯, lit. rice from one hundred homes) is the custom of begging for and consuming the cooked rice from other households in one’s village. The practice was observed nationwide during the Great Full Moon Festival (the first full moon of the year, Jeongwol Daeboreum, Kor. 정월 대보름). Depending on region, baekgaban took place either in the morning or on the eve of the full moon day (the fifteenth of the first lunar month). Common people rarely used the word ‘baekgaban’ to des

Korean Seasonal Customs

Song of the Origin of Jeseok

“Jeseokbonpuri, ” or the “Song of the Origin of Jeseok, Godess of Childbirth, ” is a shamanic song performed as part of rituals. This epic is also referred to as “Samtaejapuri (Song of the Triplets), ” “Danggeumaegi (Song of Maiden Danggeum)” and “Chogongbonpuri (Song of the Origin of Shaman Ancestor Goddess).” “Jeseokbonpuri” is one of Korea’s three major shamanic epics along with “Seongjupuri (Song of House Guardian God), ” performed as part of the ritual for household guardian god Seongju, an

Korean Folk Beliefs

Yudu New Grain Offering

Yudu cheonsin (Kor. 유두천신, Chin. 流頭薦新, lit. offering of new on Yudu) is a rite of offering newly harvested grains and fruits to the ancestral spirits on Yudu (Kor. 유두, Chin. 流頭, the fifteenth of the sixth lunar month). As indicated by the word cheonsin (Kor. 천신, Chin. 薦新, lit. offering what has come anew), Koreans traditionally believed that before consuming newly harvested agricultural products, they should first offer them to the ancestors as an expression of gratitude. In aristocratic families

Korean Seasonal Customs

Mireuk Temple

The legend of Mireuksa narrates the story of the foundation of Mireuk (Maitreya) Temple in Iksan, North Jeolla Province. In the kingdom of Buyeo, there was a widower who had intimate relations with a dragon and gave birth to a son, who demonstrated high intelligence at a young age. He was named Madong or Seodong, both meaning “yam child, ” since the family was poor and made a living by digging yams. Seodong heard rumors about the beauty of Princess Seonhwa, the third daughter of Silla’s King Jin

Korean Folk Literature

Yellow Soil

Hwangto, which literally means “yellow soil, ” refers to red clay that is sprinkled at sacred venues related to rituals to purify and to keep out bad fortune. Also called geumto (taboo soil), the clay is dug from a location in the village considered clean and free of impurities. The color red is believed to possess ghost-repelling powers and red clay ensures sanctity in carrying out a ritual by keeping out bad forces. It is sprinkled at the ritual venue and other venues occupied by ritual offici

Korean Folk Beliefs

Legends of Mountains, Peaks and Trails

This category of legends narrate stories about mountains, including peaks and trails. Myriad legends are transmitted about the many well-known mountains around Korea, including Mt. Geumgang, Mt. Halla, Mt. Gyeryong, Mt. Jiri, Mt. Taebaek, and Mt. Seorak, including local tales about nearby mountains. In Korean folk tales, mountains sometimes respresent the sentiments of the people who populate them: For example, the collective sentiment of the Honam region are depicted through mountains in narrat

Korean Folk Literature

Legends of Fortresses and Bridges

This category of legends narrates the origins of a fortress or bridge. Fortresses and bridges have served as important structures throughout history, many of which, from across the country, are recorded in the geographical compendium Donggukyeojiseungnam (Augmented Survey of the Geography of the Eastern Kingdom), published in Joseon the 12th year of King Seongjong’s reign (1481). Fortresses were first built of wood, then clay fortresses and stone fortresses were developed, and bridges also evolv

Korean Folk Literature

First Snow

Soseol (Kor. 소설, Chin. 小雪, lit. Little Snow) is the twentieth of the twenty-four solar terms; it generally occurs on November twenty-second or twenty-third on the Gregorian calendar when the sun is positioned at an ecliptic longitude of 240°. In the lunar calendar, Soseol occurs sometime during the tenth month. As the name of this solar term suggests, the first snow of winter is supposed to be seen around this time with the average temperature falling below 5°C. There is still some warm sunlight

Korean Seasonal Customs

Beginning of Winter

The ninth of the twenty-four solar terms, Ipdong (Kor. 입동, Chin. 立冬), literally means “onset of winter.” Falling on the day when the sun is at an ecliptic longitude of 225°, Ipdong falls on November seventh or eighth on the Gregorian calendar, and always during the tenth month on the lunar calendar. Ipdong happens a fortnight or so after the previous solar term, Sanggang (Kor. 상강, Chin. 霜降, lit. Fall of Frost) and a fortnight or so before Soseol (Kor. 소설, Chin. 小雪, lit. First Snow). White radish

Korean Seasonal Customs
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