On the side of Gonaebong, close to Jeju’s north-west coast, is a large rock, several metres high and home to ivy, moss and grass. The surprise comes if you walk around to the side of the rock away from the path, the side looking out through the trees and over the farmland below. There’s a tree growing close to the rock with cloths tied to its branches. Some are tattered, some more recent.

This is one of Jeju’s shamanic shrines. A description of shrines, their meaning and history, is given on the Culture & Nature pages of the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province website. That page talks about historical attempts to eradicate shamanism; the challenge today is to preserve this part of the island’s heritage in the face of declining interest in shamanism.


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