21st Century Shamanism in Korea

'' I ... associated shamans with people who ingest substances to send their souls into other worlds to retrieve knowledge.

Korean shamanism works the opposite way. The spirit of the shaman—known in Korea as manshin—does not travel somewhere else. Instead gods, spirits or ancestors descend into the shaman, so that the shaman becomes a god herself. It’s a very powerful thing to witness: the possessed shaman talks and moves completely differently, she presents completely different personalities — sometimes speaking in regional dialects that the shaman herself does not know how to speak — and assumes a position of authority. People acknowledge the god’s presence with particular hand gestures and a bow — this means you recognize that the shaman’s not a shaman anymore, she’s a god.'' ~ Jorge Manes Rubio


Continued...some extracts....

How is one called to become a shaman in Korean culture? Is it a vocation open to anyone?

Most shamans from the north of the Han River perform in Hwanghae-do style — named after a former joint North and South Korean province — and are called into the profession by spirit sickness. First they get very ill, and once they finally realize that this is a call to become a shaman, they accept their gods and do an initiation ritual. In many cultures around the world, this is a classic call to shamanic practice. This is the type of shamanic practice where shamans get possessed by otherworldly beings.

In the southern part of Korea, mostly south of the Han River, the calling is mostly hereditary. You might learn the profession from your parents, or from your grandmother, or from an uncle. These shamans do rituals, but they do not get possessed by gods or spirits. So there can be a vast difference in shamanic style.


I think most people worldwide, especially younger generations, have very little interest in religion because of its associations with power, repression and so on. But shamanism doesn’t care about that. A good shaman welcomes people who want to learn or know more about them, but has no interest in forcing their practices onto others, or using their abilities to influence others.

One thing that makes Korean shamanism unique is that most of Korea’s shamans are women — around 90%, 95% percent. In contrast, most rituals in Korea to honor ancestors are exclusively performed by men under rigid Confucian frameworks. Like many cultures, Korean culture is quite patriarchal, and shamanism represents one place where women hold a position of power.

This may be related to women and social class, but traditionally in Korea, shamans were always at the bottom of the social pyramid. Now, in modern times, many are successful and maintain a higher profile. Shamans are people who hold degrees, who have an internet presence on Facebook and YouTube. They write blogs.


There are values in Korean shamanism we can absorb and apply: such as respect for ancestors, care for our indigenous beliefs, love and appreciation for nature and compassion. Shamanism is not linked with the elite, social classes or power. Likewise, I believe that true art comes from the bottom: not from those with wealth and power, but from those who seek deeply in their own souls and can represent the ideas and values they find within.


Sources ~



I cannot copy and paste from here but this is a collection of very interesting pictures and words by Jorge Manes Rubio -



Example of a Shaman's blog ~ https://blog.naver.com/inno_wiz


Image result for Jorge Mañes Rubio korea

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