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Amid pressures of daily life, more Koreans revive interest in shamanism

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Choi Dae-woong/Reuters/File

(Read caption) South Korean shaman Lee Soon-ae performs prayers during a shipboard ceremony intended to exorcise the demons that threaten fishermen and bring good luck to everybody on board, off Incheon, west of Seoul, on June 24. Though an ancient practice, Korean shamanism - in which singing and dancing are used in trance rituals addressed to specific gods, often to get an answer to specific questions - had long been suppressed in Asia's second most Christian nation.

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The banging of drums, crashing of cymbals and blaring of a horn echo down the slope of Samgak Mountain. They’re coming from a shaman’s temple, where a goot, a spiritual rite, is underway.
 
The predominant religions in South Korea are the traditional Buddhist faith and a large Christian population, though a large segment of the population is not religious. Still, many are believers in an animistic spirituality that goes back thousands of years.

Shamanism is the indigenous faith of the Korean people, and although it has been diminished by centuries of influence from other religions and some repression, it is still intertwined with daily life among religious and nonreligious populations alike. And due to the pressures caused by the nation’s rapid development, many Koreans are turning to shamanism for guidance from the spirit world.  

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