Korean Shamanic Experience in the Age of Digital Intermediality: Park Chan-kyong's Manshin

No Thumbnail Available



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Department of English, NTNU


Despite the recent increased interest in Korean shamanism in Korean film studies, most relevant publications have tended to confine their discussions only to the question of the legitimacy of Korean films' representations of Korean shamanism. In doing so, existing Korean film scholarship has not yet substantially explored equally important questions such as: What different aesthetic techniques have the Korean films about shamanism employed to represent and/or express the subjective and objective experiences of Korean shamanic rituals? What are the socio-cultural and political implications of these cinematic engagements with Korean shamanism? The need for a closer look at these issues has become more obvious as new, more experimental Korean films and other forms of media dealing with shamanism have appeared during the past decade. Park Chan-kyong's experimental documentary Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits (2013) is especially notable in this regard since it employs digitally-enabled intermedial techniques. This paper explores the ways in which Manshin’s use of these techniques is able to express the cultural otherness of Korean shamanism. I will argue that this film’s hypermediated use of several intermedial techniques enables it to express the fantastic quality of trance-like shamanic experiences, rewrite the biography of shaman Kim Keum-hwa and the history of Korean shamanism in the form of materialist historiography, and profane shamanic practices against the recent tendency to spectacularize them. In this regard, Manshin can be seen to significantly contribute to a reimagining of the postcolonial nation of Korea as one that is irreducibly heterogeneous and open to new socio-cultural possibilities.