Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Power of Christ Compels You - OUT!

I think I need to have a 굿. Or an exorcist. Clearly, in my absence my apartment was taken over by fairies. Little people. Brownies. Sprites. Evil Spirits. Something.
Since I got home I have been invaded by cockroaches (clearly the physical manifestation the fey have chosen), the light in my bathroom exploded, my washer broke, hot water has vanished, and my fan will only spin if you wind the blades by hand while chanting incantations to Belphagor. My landlady has vanished. The rice I ordered from the local 농협 went astray I know not where. Single socks have vanished, and some of my t-shirts seem to have shifted colors. The region on my computer's DVD player was reset without my knowledge. Things are getting creepy.
Actually, I'm half-considering trying a 굿. There are at least four 무당/만신 in my immediate neighborhood, and I've heard drums and singing on at least two occasions since I moved in. Shamanism is under the radar of many Koreans, but beneath it all the scene is flourishing. There are shamans by phone, over the internet (the NYT has an interesting but basic article about that here) . . . kind of like all the "psychics" in the west, but with the respectable veneer of history and custom. Laurel Kendall, whose research and works are part of what prompted me to study Korea, has written a number of excellent books on the subject of shamanism in Korea, and from her research it looks like there's still a substantive number of people, especially women, who consult 무당 and commission ceremonies, but I know of only two large-scale public 굿 yearly that are easily accessible to foreigners. Ever year for 단오 in 강능 there is a large 굿, and perhaps less known but just as colorful is the one held on the main grounds of the Andong Mask Dance Festival (안동국제탈춤페스티벌) in downtown. That one is especially interesting because the 무당 for the past few years at least is a man - which makes some of the cross-dressing even more interesting. At any rate, the 굿 in Andong is for me one of the best reasons to visit the festival.
Heck, even the Fulbright Foundation here sponsored one! But the question is: How much does it cost? Can I comparison shop?

ack! I had intended to post one of my own pictures of the Andong 굿 but I've mislaid my old photos . . .drat.

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