Korean Shamanism: The Cultural Paradox

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Ashgate, 2003 - Body, Mind & Spirit - 248 pages
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Shamanism has a contradictory position within the Korean cultural system, leading to the periodical suppression of shamanism yet also, paradoxically, ensuring its survival throughout Korean history. This book examines the place of shamans within contemporary society, exploring shamanism as a cultural practice in which people make use of shamanic ritual, and disputing the prevalent view that shamanism is 'popular culture', 'women's religion' or 'performing arts'. It also disputes the common view among medical anthropologists that places shamanism firmly within the realm of traditional medicine. Drawing on case studies within Korea, Kim presents a study of indigenous anthropology with material drawn from an insider's perspective, and offers an engaging understanding of the appeal of indigenous folk practice in a highly industrial society. Directly confronting the prejudice against shamans and their paradoxical situation in a modern society such as Korea, this book reveals the cultural discrepancy between two worlds in Korean culture, the ordinary world and the shamanic world, showing that these two worlds cannot be reconciled. This unique study of shamanism offers a significant contribution to growing studies in indigenous anthropology and indigenous religions, and provides a captivating read for a wide range of readers through retelling the stories-never-to-be-told involving shamanic ritual.

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