The Rise of Shamanism in South Korea. Thoughts?

So today, I was watching a documentary on youtube about south korea, as I’m very intrigued by the culture of the country, and I was greeted by a pleasant surprise near the end of it. Because the job market is getting so competitive over there, a lot of people (especially young folk apparently) are turning towards shamanism in order to get an edge. I thought it was interesting, and I wanted to share it here and perhaps know your thoughts on it. The whole documentary is interesting, but the relevant bits about the shamanism start at around the 49:50 minute mark.

I’m always curious to see how magick is performed in other cultures, and some of the acts shown in the documentary will definitely be familiar. I’d be very interested in knowing if any of you have interacted with any korean deities and what kinds of results you received, if any. Although I should note that the shaman in the video charges an exorbitant amount of cash for his services…and although I’m a capitalist at heart, the reality is that there are a lot of scammers in this space, though the businessman in the documentary swears by his credibility. What I also found interesting is that apparently 40% of south koreans consult a shaman every year according to the documentary, which is pretty wild. That would be like having 130 million Americans visiting an LHP practitioner like EA every year for advice. Crazy. Do you think things will ever get so competitive over here that we see this kind of rise in occultism among regular folks?

EDIT: I added a poll to this because an interesting question has come up which I’m curious to see where people fall. After watching the short clip, do you see a significant difference between the shaman in the video and EA’s ritual for hire? Atm, the only real difference I see is that the shaman charges a lot more than EA does…but I’m curious to what you all think

  • I see no significant difference between the Shaman’s services and EA’s Ritual for Hire
  • I see significant differences between the Shaman’s services and EA’s Ritual for Hire

0 voters

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Seems a bit exploitative to me. They don’t need to charge so much that they get rich and a former theater performer turned shaman pissing about on blades to deliver a speech seems… off.

Contrast with shamans in India that get posessed and the spirit has full on conversations with people that come far and wide to ask personal question, and for healing that works, with small gifts that add up. They are loved and protected by the community. I see more value in that than all the fancy commercially made statues.

There’s a 4 video documentary gaia.com called “Shamans of the Himalayas” that looks 100 percent authentic. By comparison it makes this Korean spectacle, where he’s one on one and limits his gift look rather sad and more like a circus show. I don’t know about other “shamans” in this country, but it feels to me that it lacks spirit of shamanic practice as developed over the millennia. In he land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.

The site lets you share single videos, here is the first of four:

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Yeah the example in particular did seem off to me, but then again…this is south korea where practically everything is commodified, so it could just be a cultural difference. I mean, EA and others charge for their work as well…and I think its fair to charge for services like this when the request has to do with things you want to get ahead in society like employment and what not. Its just a matter of how much is too much? Only significant difference I see between the shaman in the video and BALG is that the shaman charges more. Contrast that with how shamanism is treated in India…sure I can probably get some healing from my local shaman without the price tag, but will they do a ritual on my behalf to get ahead of my business competitors or attract a specific love interest…or would they have moral issues with such requests? There may be some pros and cons to the Korean vs Indian way

P.S. Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out later

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That shouldn’t affect the shaman though, who is claiming to have been taught by the spirits themselves, who you’d think would guide him in a way not about te recent development in that culture and be more… like spirits. Neither should it mean he gives preferential treatment to the government dude. The shaman in the example I posted didn’t.

There’s an example of the Himalayan shaman’s possessing spirit talking to a businessman, who is there as an individual asking about his business, and mothers asking if thieeir daughters will find good husbands, so I would say if the shaman is authentic, yes.

It’s not about the morality of the shaman, he isn’t even there and he doesn’t remember the sessions, that’s how shamanic practice like this works… it’s the spirit that is answering, and it answers for everyone’s highest good, it doesn’t do commissions and it might not give the answer you want, but it will answer.

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Fair enough. But do you think its immoral to charge for spiritual services rendered? Because I honestly don’t see much difference between what this shaman does and what EA does through ritual for hire.

Me, no. I think it’s unethical to exploit people weaker than you and especially if you’re lying to them about your product.

I see E.A. more like the Himalayan shamans, although he’s not a shaman and is LHP not RHP (shamanism is very service to others, law of one oriented) he charges enough to live on and no more, and his skills are authentic. He gets into showmanship because he enjoys it for it’s own sake and as a part of his exploring his magick and personal expression with us all live, it’s not to impress or he’d stop, because it attracts a lot of haters. You can see his personal evolution open and uncensored on camera, or “raw” as he puts it,.

The “shaman” in the above video is, I feel, taking advantage of people, is overstating his skills and offering. His story is that he was a showman to start with, there’s no indication that like shamans and E.A. they were called to the work from a young age.
Otherwise he wouldn’t need to make such a fake feeling spectacle of it.

You see, just getting into trance in public would provide a spectacle that can’t be avoided, all people are psychic to some level and can feel the possession is real. If it’s not you have to distract them and cow their conscious minds with aggressive theater. There’s no need to distract with flashy showmanship if you’re real, the work is self evident.

So, this dude is, I feel, not as connected to spirit and therefore working off his imagination. It’s not coming from a place of deep magick, he’s method acting. It’s not that that can’t work, but he’s misrepresenting his work, and may not even understand the difference in what he’s doing. And he’s narcissistically overcharging to an unreasonable extent, which is not from spirit it’s from him.

A lot of shamanic helping spirits will leave you if you exploit it for personal gain. I think in his case they were never there, he entrance, but not posessed by a helping spirit (maybe by a parasite though). It’s one thing to make a business of your skills and passion to help people, it’s another to get into the business to only line your pockets. There will be a limit to what he can do that shamans don’t have.

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I hear you. For me though…the morality question begins and ends with, “should he be charging money at all?” If the answer is yes, he can…then for me the price one chooses to place on the service is up to personal preference, as the morality of the act has already been answered. People are then free to pick and choose who they want to go with based on price. If that particular shaman is too expensive, then others out there can be sought out who are cheaper. It’s possible that he only targets wealthy clientele that can afford the cost, which I think is perfectly fine tbh. A lot of businesses (like the luxury car market for example) that target people of a specific socioeconomic bracket. EA himself admitted that he charges the most in the industry, and some have complained over the years about that. To me though, since i think its morally okay to charge for services rendered, the fact that EA charges a lot compared to other practitioners is not really an issue to me.

As for the shaman’s capabilities…thats a question we don’t have much of an answer to, as the clip is fairly short. But the businessman in the video seemed to get success from the shaman before, so I assume he has some skill. I mean, EA use to be a fiction writer I believe, which requires its own level of showmanship and creativity to do well at it. Its just showcased through a different medium.

Well, I used the word “ethics” deliberately to put it context of the community. I think it matters that when others are involved the good of all as a gestalt is considered.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not a fan of the “karma” concept, but energy flows between people and the land exist and to be exploitative seems to shows a lack of awareness of them and how you’re affecting them.

Like I said, it’s not that it doesn’t work, but I don’t think he’s a shaman. He’s a regular intermediate level mage no different than pretty much most of us here on BALG. And plenty of us are professional occultists, do successful work for others… but we don’t lie about being “shamans” to get on the bandwagon. We get to use whatever current we like.

We don’t claim to be what we’re not. At BALG we “keep it real”. He’s over charging based on a lie and doing obviously distracting shit for no magickal reason, unless the magick is ON the people to persuade them and bring more business. That’s also real magick and all LHP mages do that to bring success… but shamans don’t do that. Big difference, they don’t need to, they were called. The lying is low integrity and opens the door to more lies to keep up the show.

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Okay I think I understand your perspective. So your main issue with him is that he calls himself a shaman (because the title of shaman comes with it certain code of conduct expectations that you have, like a priest), and if he just called himself a LHP practitioner (or something along those lines), you wouldn’t take issue with him? If so then yeah I see what you mean.

If you think about it, the money issue has exposed him to limitation. He now has to keep up appearances or have a lot of very pissed off people wanting their money back which could send him bankrupt. He’s put himself in a trap with his whole livelihood on the line.

Much shamanic, so wow.

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I used to live in South Korea, before I believed in spirits. I was in a rural area and belief in spirits was strong, even though Christianity was as well. The town I was in had a cult excommunicated from the church because they worshiped a statue of Mary they claimed cried blood. People still did things like set out bowls of red beans to keep goblins away. It was an interesting blend of folk practice and (occasionally fringe) Christianity.

South Korea has a horrible working culture. I taught English and I had parents bringing me their three year olds. They had to make a law against schooling after 10 pm. Watching the light go out of all the kids eyes over time was really sad. Competition is insane. The only thing that makes the youngest generation happy is hand phone games and manga/manwa/anime- most of which is fantasy-based. I could see that impacting their belief systems, especially coupled with rebellion against a system which crushes them from birth.

The new generation of adults is very interesting - their country is very homogeneous and Christian, but the kids from the cities have studied abroad and travelled the world. They are multi-lingual and oppose the single-mindedness and bigotry of their elders. Conformity is a way of life there; individuality is not celebrated but stamped out. There is a growing resistance to this which might feed a shamanic revival.

The former president before Mun was shunned for keeping a close relationship with woman with occult ties and beliefs. The nation as a whole is very Christian. They can be very anti-west, but Jesus to them is an Asian man, just as westerners portray Jesus as a blond haired, blue-eyed man. The poin’t being that I don’t think it would be a struggle for them to maintain a nationalistic and Christian identity. The old people in the country side blend it with folk beliefs and practices and don’t see it as occult or anti-christian.

If anything, frustration and desperation from the newest generations might drive this.

edit: Korean dramas which explore this might also drive fascination and deeper interest.

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Thanks for your insights Mythopoeia. Very interesting.

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