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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The shaman and the customer

Hankyoreh tells of a shaman (musogin) in Bongcheon-dong, Gwanak-gu, Seoul who's been charged for blackmailing. Mrs Yi threatened Mrs Sin that her whole family will die or get mad if Mrs Sin doesn't receive a sprit-descending ritual (sinnaerim-kut, shaman initiation). Mrs Yi is charged of extorting 32 million won [€25000] on seven occasions between November last year and May this year. Mrs Yi performed sinnaerim-kut in January this year, but Mrs Sin couldn't feel anything, so she filed a complaint to the police last month. Mrs Yi claimed that it had been Mrs Sin who had first requested the ritual.

I don't think this is a return to the old days of repression of shamanism. It looks almost like a consumer issue to me. And in an issue like this, the shaman always has the recourse to claim that she is possessed with powers to tell when a ritual is needed and what the consequences will be if it's not performed. If the person destined to become a shaman doesn't receive the ritual, something bad is going to happen to her or to persons in her vicinity.

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