Altar of a Korean shaman for a private ritual gut held on Yangtze Island | Photo by Randy Gener

GPS | ASIA:  In October 2005, I took a bus to Yangtze Island in South Korea and attended a private Daedong Gut (shaman ritual) by the Korean shaman, Kim Keumhwa, a governing official spirit.  Shamanism is Korea’s indigenous religion and is very much alive in Korea and where Koreans live, despite the efforts of churches, official and quasi-official agencies and crafty antique dealers to ignore its existence in fast-paced, Western-focused contemporary Korean society.

There are any number of reasons why a ritual will be held: illness or to give thanks for good health, bad business or new prosperity, blessing a new house or business, searching for a mate or fixing a failing marriage, getting good grades in school, or winning the lottery.  Shamans are selected for the strength of their spiritual integrity.  The images on the altar are representations of spiritual icons and gods. — RG