|Shamans Using the
Spirit of Taebaek-san
Many Korean shamans (called manshin politely or mudang vulgarly) deliberately attempt to become possessed
by the San-shin spirits of the nation's holiest mountains, often by living and conducting rituals at particularly-
auspicious hyeol sites high up on the slopes or at the peaks of them, for up to three years. If they are successful
in establishing a good relationship with that powerful spirit, and the ability to become possessed by it at will (in
whatever location they later find themselves), or at least if the public clientele believes that this is true, they can
then often become a famous and successful shaman with a high income from conducting ceremonies that include
such possession by and channeling the words of that spirit. They may adopt a title for themselves that indicates
this status, such as "Taebaek-san Sanshin-bosal" or etc, and advertise it on signboards or in newspapers. They
often maintain shrines at their special mountain as well as in one or more of the big cities.
Taebaek-san is one of the most frequently sought-after mountain-spirits, being the nation's most famous mainly-
shamanic mountain. See my photos of shamans living and praying on Munsu-bong Peak; others are easily
found on Cheonje-dan and Janggun-bong Peaks, even in harsh winter weather.
This is the house and shrine of another Manshin who claims possession by the Taebaek Sanshin spirit, in my
own densely-urban neighborhood in Dongdaemun-gu District of Seoul City, so very far from the actual peaks.
She uses the Buddhist-flavored title "Taebaek-san Chung Yeonhwa-am" [Grand White Mountain Central
Lotus-Flower Hermitage], along with the Buddhist swastika (common symbol for shamanic shrines as well as
Korean temples) and offers numerological fortune-telling along with Taebaek Sanshin-contacting rituals.
Places like this are actually quite common and easy to find in Korea's big cities, including downtown.
Other famously-sacred mountains that are very popular in this way include Jiri-san and Gyeryong-san.
This is the case one of Korea's most famous shamanic-fortunetellers in the early 21st century. Mrs. "Beobjin"
[Dharma- Truth] Oh Kyung-ja correctly predicted the underdog election of Roh Mu-hyeon as President of Korea in 2002,
when she was 45 years old (and 20 years after returning from her initial "gaining of the Taebaek mountain-spirit").
She was arrested late in 2008 for involvement in some kind of scandal between one of Roh's relatives and a Securities
company. At that time, the newspaper article said: "She claimed she had learned the secrets of nature and gained
the ability to look into the future when she was studying on Mt. Taebaek. Since Roh took office she has been the
face of national fortunetellers and has had celebrities and high-end socialites as clients over the past six years" --
probably becoming very wealthy from that.
And the "Cheonhwang-sa" [Hevenly King Temple] shrine of another Manshin who claims possession by the Sanshin of
Taebaek-san's Janggun-bong [General Peak], also in Dongdaemun-gu District, easily visible from the platform of
Weidae-ap-yeok Metro Subway Station. Again the iconography is Buddhist-flavored although this is clearly Shamanism.