Welcome to Part II of The Sea God Demands an Exorcism
Here’s a quick recap of Part I:
- Jesse and I are attending a Shamanic ceremony on a South Korean boat.
- Dance and traditional music greeted us when we boarded.
- Later, we participated in a prayer ceremony to honor the Dragon King/Sea God.
- Now, we’re waiting for the main exorcism ritual (called a gut) to begin.
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. . .
The Dragon King Controls Everything in the Ocean
If a Shaman fisherman comes home empty-handed, it’s the Dragon King’s doing.
A huge wave capsized your boat? Dragon King!
Someone’s fish store went out of business? Yup; Dragon King.
. . .
So how does a Shamanistic Korean appease this God of the Sea?
Though prayer, offerings, sacrifice and an exorcism; of course.
Making Friends Everywhere I Go
While waiting for the exorcism, I was invited to sit between two friendly Pungmul performers who were excited to show off their instruments.
Although we spoke no common language, we soon found a way to communicate through music, smiles and laughter.
Gongs, Cameras and a Beautiful Photograph
My favorite moment came when the woman expressed an interest in my camera. Earlier, she taught me how to play her favorite gong. Now, I could share my passion with her.
. . .
After a brief lesson, my new friend began pointing the camera at everything on the boat.
By the time she reached 80x digital zoom, her hands were shaking and the screen was moving in every direction. Yet, she still managed to make this beautiful photograph of a Shaman musician.
It’s Exorcism Time
In order to appease the Dragon King, a Mudang (Shaman holy woman) performs a Seohaean Baeyeonsingut exorcism ritual.
During this solemn ceremony, she dances, sings, bangs a gong and offers praise to the Sea God.
So That’s What an Exorcism Looks Like?
I was surprised too; but yes.
What about the sacrifice?
After the Mudang finished her chanting, dancing and drumming, Shaman holy men released a severed cow’s head into the ocean as a sacrifice to the Dragon King.
Float a Boat for Luck
Immediately following the cow’s head sacrifice, Shaman holy men brought out a a beautifully-decorated paper boat.
After a lap carrying it around our ship, the boat was lowered it into the water and floated away.
It was one of the most beautiful parts of the entire ceremony.
No More Praying; Let’s Party!
In the few minutes it took for the paper boat to float away, the atmosphere on our boat had completely changed.
Where the Mudang previously had performed her exorcism, there now was a smorgasbord of food and booze being passed out.
Almost immediately, someone handed Jesse and I a huge bowl of strong alcohol; which, we had to drink lest we offend someone.
I won’t lie … the booze made what came next much easier
While guests were stuffing their faces, the Pungmul performers returned to the stage for more dancing, drums and celebrating.
It didn’t take long before our new friends invited us up to join them.
. . .
Shortly after, a performer strapped his headpiece on my head and hoisted a drum over my shoulder.
Wanna see how it looked? Just hit play…
I get tired just watching that video!
After what seemed like hours but was probably closer to 15 minutes, our boat reached the Yeonggwang-Gun mainland.
A huge round of handshakes and smiles were exchanged before I handed my props back to their owner and said an emotional goodbye to everyone on board.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all of the kind souls who made this one of the most amazing and unforgettable days of my life.
. . .
Here are a few more photos from my day with the Dragon King
GET LOST IN KOREA
In 2013, I was hired by National Geographic to film a TV show in South Korea … following my adventures as a travel blogger and photographic storyteller.
The single-episode show offered a mix of humor, tradition, adventure and stunning imagery; as I teamed up with Jesse Day: a Canadian entertainer who lives in Seoul and raps in Korean.
Here are the highlights from filming Get Lost in Korea …
EXPLORE SOMEWHERE NEW