Modern South Korea's Spiritual Core

Bowls of fruit are laid out on the altar. There are also bottles of whiskey and a meter-high stack of Marlboro cigarette cartons. With a grin, Korean shaman Tae Eul says his gods like to drink and smoke. Despite South Korea’s worship of smartphones and the latest cars, many believe in an ancient, animistic spirituality. Shamanism is the indigenous faith of the Korean people and despite centuries of influence from other religions, it still appears in many aspects of modern life there. At the center of Korean shamanism is the mudang, or shaman, the medium between the material and spirit world.

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