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Monday, March 29, 2004

(Social categories) "Kut" for the poor dead in front of "Tower Palace"

Several associations such as Minjunoch'ong (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions) and Chôn'guk pinminyônhap ("National Association of the Poor" or something) have come up with the idea of having a kut or shamanistic ritual for those who died because of poverty in front of the Tower Palace on March 30 (A Yonhap piece in Chosun Ilbo).
'Tower Palace' in KangnamAs the Tower Plus apartment has become the symbol of wealth and all the excesses that are associated with it in Korea, it looks like an appropriate place if one is to make a point about income divide. The ritual will be a salp'urikut, which to my knowledge is not the kind that's usually performed for the "wrongfully deceased", but it's not important here. Shamanism is used here in the same manner as in my earlier post about a kut, more as a part of Korean culture than individual belief. And the associations behind the event are descendants of the minjung(民衆) movements of earlier decades, when shamanism became a sort of nativistic way of political and cultural expression.
민주노총 관계자는 “타워팰리스는 우리나라 부의 상징이기도 하지만 바로 근처에 철거촌 등 빈곤에 시달리는 사람들이 살고 있다”며 “빈곤문제의 심각성을 알리기위해 발족식 장소로 택했다”고 말했다.
P.S. Seems that Minjunoch'ong calls it wiryông-kut (빈곤으로 죽은이를 위로하는 위령굿), which should be a more accurate term, if we want to get into details.

Update: Ohmynews reports of the event. So it was not a shaman ritual but a dance performance using shamanistic elements.

Picture: ⓒ 오마이뉴스 권우성

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