Jeju’s Folk Religions

Jeju’s folk religions have created some unique customs that cannot be found on the mainland. One of these customs is known as Shingugan. It’s Jeju’s special moving season, a week long period starting five days after Daehan (the coldest day of the year on the lunar calendar, around January 19 or 20) and lasting until three days before Ipchun (the first day of spring on the lunar calendar, around February 3 or 4). During this season, the 18,000 gods and goddesses that watch over Jeju are said to temporarily leave Earth to report to the Great Jade Emperor. Therefore, it is believed to be a good time to move to a new home without angering the gods and goddesses. Even though this season takes place in the cold of winter, the people of Jeju prefer to move at this time.

Seongeup Folk VillageGuardian Tree and Thatched Roof

Munjeonje, a ritual dedicated to the household deity, is another unique custom found only on Jeju. In lunar January, people invite a village shaman to their homes to pray for good luck in the upcoming year. Munjeonje is also held at dawn at the homes of brides and grooms on their wedding day and at other important times, such as a big exam day or a moving day.

Jeju stone parkBangsatap (=Stone Pagoda)

Jeju’s folk religions are also reflected in bangsatap, small, round towers made of stones that you are likely to see when walking around the island’s villages. They were built to protect the villages from such misfortunes as infectious diseases, fire, and maritime disasters. Dolhareubang, large rock statues found on Jeju, are another product of Jeju’s folk religions. They were known by various names in the past, including wooseokmok, ongjungseok, and beoksumeori, but have been called dolhareubang since they were chosen as a cultural asset in 1971. Commonly found in front of restaurants and souvenir shops these days, there were originally placed outside of the gates of government offices to protect them against evil spirits.

Dolhareubang
Dol Hareubang standing in front of house

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