Defence of Jinseok Seo's PhD Dissertation "The role of shamanism in Korean society in its inter- and intra-cultural contacts" on June 6, 2013

PhD student of the Institute of Cultural Research and Fine Arts Jinseok Seo will defend his PhD theses "The role of shamanism in Korean society in its inter- and intra-cultural contacts" in the Assembly Hall of the University Council at 12.15 on June 6th, 2013. Doctoral theses were supervised by Professor Ülo Valk; oponents will be Dr. Mihály Hoppál (Institute of Ethnology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences) and Dr. Aado Lintrop (Estonian Folklore Archives, Estonian Literary Museum).

This dissertation is composed of 4 separate articles written for academic journals in Estonia, South Korea, Lithuania and Hungary since 2007. I intended to seek out the futuristic virtues of Korean shamanism and propose a scheme to refine the possibility of a comparative perspective with Western folkloristics and religious studies related with shamanism and folk belief. While previous studies of Korean shamanism mainly concentrated on diachronic research, such as conceptualisation, characteristics and historical transition, this dissertation attempts to concentrate on shamanism’s role in modulating Korean culture in its inter-cultural contacts. The most important topics that will be dealt with in the articles presented in this dissertation are: the characteristics of heroism and prominent role of the female gender in Korean mythology – a reflection of traditional features of Korean shamanism; the transition of original attributes as a guardian of ‘Koreanness’; the traditional role of shamanism as a catalyser for the blending of other cultures with Korean cultural strata; and shamanism’s new potential in the culture industry of the new era. The combination of these inexplicable factors, generated spontaneously, was at last given the appellation of tradition, something that constantly affects the ways of thought, life and entertainment for the Korean people.

PDF-version of the PhD theses can be downloaded at