The Ambivalent Perspective on Shamanism in the Joseon Era of Korea

  • Staci Kim Daesoon Institute of Religion and Culture
Keywords: shamanism, Joseon, folk religion, Confucianism, ambivalence


The Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910) was founded based on Confucian ideology, which strongly emphasized rationalism and formality. As it influenced the entirety of the Joseon society, shamanism that had been branded as an ‘obscene and superstitious practice’ by the Confucian ruling class was oppressed institutionally on various dimensions from the life and manners of people to rituals throughout the Joseon era. However, it was able to survive, gaining the advocacy from ordinary people as well as the support of royal families. Although the predominant view on the Joseon era posed an anti-syncretic religious landscape based on a powerful Confucian identity, various religions co-existed under the multi-religious circumstances. This ambivalence still exists in today’s Korean society in term of shamanism.


Download data is not yet available.


[1] Choi, J.S. (2007). Religious Syncretism and Anti-Syncretism of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Musok in the Earlier Half of the Choseon Dynasty. Studies in Religion, 47, 37-81.
[2] Son, T.D. (2008). Musog (Korean Shamanism) in the Latter Period of Joseon Dynasty. Korean Shamanism, 17, 189-270.
[3] Lee, Y.B. (2017). Musok on the Perspective of Korean Society. Journal of Christian Literature Society of Korea, 698, 44-54.
[4] Suh, Y.D. (2005). The Periodization on History of Korean Shamanism. Korean Shamanism, 10, 7-35.
[5] Kim, G.S. (2007). The Themes of Korean History. Seoul: Dodeulsaegim, 127-128.
[6] Yi, Y.B. (2005). An Examination on the Negative Viewpoint on the Korean Shamanism in Modern Korea. Korean Shamanism, 9, 151-179.
[7] Chung, C.S. (1995). The Clash between Korean Confucianism and Modern Western Civilization: Yi Hang-no’s Ideology to Reject Heterodoxy and Defend Orthodoxy. Seoul: Yonsei University Press, 389.
[8] Oh, K.G. (2016). Korean Shamanism-The Religion of Women. International Journal of Korean Humanities and Social Sciences, 2, 71-85. DOI: 2016.02.05.
[9] Wilson, D.B. (2013). Shaman, Sage, Priest, Prophet and Magician-exploring the architecture of the religious wise man. University of Sydney, Australia. A Doctorate Dissertation.
[10] Eliade, M. (2004). Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
[11] Wingkelman, M. (2015). eds. Shaman / Shamanism, Vocabulary for the Study of Religion Volume 3 P–Z, Index, Edited by Robert A. Segal Kocku von Stuckrad, Boston: Brill, 332.
[12] Stevens, J., Stevens, LS. (1998). Secrets of Shamanism. 1988. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1-226.
[13] Irons, E.A. (2018). Healing Narratives in the Jeon-gyeong. The 2nd World SangSaeng Forum Proceedings, 193-223.
[14] Lee, HS. et al. (2008). The Propriety and Culture During the Joseon Dynasty -focused on The Family Rituals of Master Zhu-. Seoul: Ehwa Woman’s University Press.
[15] Boileau, G. Wu and Shaman, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies of University of London 2002; 65 (2): 350-378).
[16] Kim, S.H. (2015). Research on Neokdeulim in Jeju Island. The Journal of Language & Literature, 64: 145-168.
[17] Ryu, S.M. (2004). The Socio-cultural Meaning of Religious Healing, Concentrating in Korean Religious Rituals for Healing. Studies in Religion, 35, 1-30.
[18] Yi, A.J. (2014). Shaman Ritual Dance: Understanding Korean Culture, Dance of Korea, Korean Musicology Series 6. eds. Seoul: National Gugak Center, 211-222.
[19] Park, J.M. (2013). The Experience of Elderly Koreans’ Han and Its Implication for Spiritual Care: In the Canadian Immigrant Context. A Doctorate Dissertation. Wilfrid Laurier University.
[20] Love, B. (2012). Maya Shamanism Today-connecting with the cosmos in Rural Yucatan. San Francisco: Precolumbia Mesoweb Press, 1-159
[21] Sobiecki, J.F. (2008). A Review of Plants Used in Divination in Southern Africa and Their Psychoactive Effects. Southern African Humanities, 20, 333-351.
[22] Chacatrjan, A. (2015). An Investigation on the History and Structure of Korean Shamanism. International Journal of Korean Humanities and Social Sciences, 1, 55-70.
[23] Kang, W.D. (2011). The Priest of Han as a Theme in Christian-Shamanist Interfaith Dialogue. Madang, 16, 69-92.
[24] Kang, S.S. (2016). Confucian Enlightenment and the Inside, The Journal of Korean Historical-folklife, 50, 101-132.
[25] Shinzato, Y. (2018). Korean Shamanism as Religion: The Development of ‘Mugyo’ in Shamanism Discourse. Studies in Religion, 78(3), 184-211.
How to Cite
Kim, S. (2022). The Ambivalent Perspective on Shamanism in the Joseon Era of Korea. International Journal of Religious and Cultural Studies, 4(2), 137-144.