When a spirit enters their body, the mudang (Korean shaman) may engage in activities they normally don’t partake on a daily basis. Such was the case with Kim Num Sun, a shaman who practices Pyeongan Province style rituals. While she can’t drink alcohol nor smoke, her personality changes once the spirit of jangun (Korean warlord) possesses her. Her behavior suddenly becomes more masculine.

Left: Shaman Kim Num-Sun. Right: General Choi Young.

Left: Shaman Kim Num-Sun. Right: General Choi Young.

Shamans from the Hwanghae Province traditionally worshipped Korean warlords, especially General Choi Young. Some gradually prayed to military figures from other nations as well, including Genghis Khan and General Douglas MacArthur.

Mudang Seo Kyeong-Uk dresses up as a Korean warlord and dances on sharp blades with her barefoot. It’s a way to communicate with spirits and to receive their blessings. Mudang describe this as a feel-good experience.

Check out the rituals in action below: