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Observations placeholder

Mudang spiritual experiences – The kut for Chisun's Grandmother – 01 Introduction



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Korean Shamanism – The Cultural Paradox – Dr Chongho Kim

A Practice of Cultural Rebellion

 “Do you really believe what the shaman said about your back pain? Just think how much she talks! If even an ordinary person said that much, probably half of it would be nonsense. Why don't you buy medicine instead? Don't you know that you could buy medicine for a whole year with the money you'll have to pay for the kut?”
“The waves of life are rough at times. It is hard for young people such as you to understand. I didn't know any shamans when I was young, either. The waves of life made me know this way. There are many curves and ups and downs in life. I've never seen a person whose life did not have curves in it. Life does not go in a straight line. When you get married and have children, you may begin to understand what I'm saying. Everything does not go as you want it to. Sometimes you have to use even things like this. “

My landlady in Soy, Chisun's Grandmother was arguing with her daughter, Minji, in the back seat of my car. We were on the way to Soh-Bosal's office, located ten km away from our place. Chisun's Grandmother was about to have a shamanic ritual because of the pain in her lower back (heoribyong), and she was going to prepay the fees to the shaman with some 100 000 won bank cheques, which I-had given her as part of my boarding fee. The previous night, the shaman had telephoned Chisun's Grandmother to ask for the ritual fees -because she had to purchase offerings in advance. However, Minji did not like going to Soh Bosal's office and was complaining to her mother, Minji was accompanying us to the shaman's office merely by chance.

When I left home, Minji had got into my car in order to visit her friend's house in Central Township, but her friend was not at home. As I looked into the rear mirror of my car, I could see that she had dressed up well. I could smell the perfume she had put on, which certainly didn't fit with the atmosphere of Soh Bosal’s office. Actually, it was the first time she had visited a shaman's place. It seemed that Minji was irritated not just because she could not meet her friend but also because she did not like her mother going to the shaman. Furthermore, she did not seem to like me either because I had been assisting her mother's involvement in shamanism. Perhaps she thought that the kut which her mother was going to hold in a few days was a result of my encouragement of shamanism. Chisun's Grandmother tried to explain why she was going to hold the kut, but her daughter was not really listening. There was a big gap between the two women when it came to understanding shamanic healing, and it did not seem easy to overcome

Observe closely not only the kut ritual itself but also her decision-making process. The argument between Chisun's Grandmother and her daughter Minji which I describe above was one of the episodes in this decision-making process. This [description] will be devoted to the shamanic ritual Chisun's Grandmother held, which seemed to me to be a kind of 'murder through ritual'. The ritual was so shocking and, at the same time, so puzzling to me, that I became preoccupied with questions about it. Why did she need to commit the ritual murder? Why was it necessary to cure her back pain? How could I make sense of this shamanic ritual? To answer these questions, I had to keep my eyes open until I left her place six and a half months later, in August 1995. Chisun's Grandmother was an elderly widow, aged 60. This was one of the main reasons why I had such a close relationship with her.

The source of the experience

Korean mystic shamanism

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps