Kim In-whoe

b. 1938. Lives and works in Seoul. Kim In-whoe is a Korean educationalist and folklorist. After retiring in February 2003, he has lectured at Yonsei University’s Department of Education as an emeritus professor. In the late 1960s he published many papers and books based on his research on traditional Korean beliefs, or shamanism. He has also recorded Gut in videos as part of his field research across the country since the early 1980s. In particular, he jointly published some of the Gut, Korean Shamanistic Ritual series with photographer Kim Soo-nam, making great contributions to Korea’s shamanism studies.

Still image from Pyeongan-do Jinjuk-gut, 1986
Video Installation, 30 min
Courtesy the artist
Until the late 1960s, records of Korean shamanism were limited to materials by Japanese folklorists in the 1920s and 1930s and a small number of scholars in Korean Studies. A young educationalist in those days, Kim In-whoe felt the Western educational paradigm was limitedly applied to Korean society and became interested in Koreans’ traditional religious beliefs, or shamanism. From the early 1970s, he conducted field research on gut (shamanistic rituals) across the country, took photos, and released papers with the research results. Then, from the early 1980s?when video cameras were not widely used in Korea?to the present, he has recorded videos of Korean gut and Asian shamanism. Kim In-whoe first met Kim Soo-nam at the naerim gut (initiation ritual) of Chae Hee-ah, held by the female shaman Kim Geum-hwa in June 1981. Kim Soo-nam suggested they record gut in videos and later Kim Soo-nam and Kim In-whoe visited shamanic ritual sites together for decades.
In 2014, Kim In-whoe donated to the National Folk Museum of Korea about 3,500 photos and videos regarding Korean shamanism, which he had worked on for over forty years. Among these, there are 355 videos that record a total of 86 cases of gut. For Mediacity Seoul, Kim In-whoe personally selected videos capturing thirty cases of gut and the museum re-edited five of them to introduce to the audience. In Hwanghae-do Jinogwi-gut, the famous female shaman Kim Geum-hwa prayed for the spirit of her deceased mother Lee Eum-jeon to enter the world of the dead. Ilsan Malmeori Dodang-gut was held jointly by the people in six villages in Ilsan, Gyeonggi-do to pray for the peace and bumper year for the villages. Pyeongan-do Jinjuk-gut was a ritual in which a female shaman in Pyeongdan-do, North Korea, expressed her gratitude to her own god. Seoul Cheonshinmaji-gut was a ritual to help the repose of family members’ souls and the family’s well-being. At this ritual, the last stage by Lee Ji-san, a leading male shaman in Seoul, is noteworthy. Jeju-do Yeongdeung-gut, designated as UNESCO World Heritage, was a process of praying to Yeongdeung, the god of wind, for women divers’ rich production and the safety of ships. [HAN Sunhee]