The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans...

  • Dates
    1995 - Ongoing
  • Author
  • Topics Documentary, Festivals, Portrait, Travel
  • Locations South Korea, Nepal, Ladakh, Japan, Peru

The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans...

My life story began in Seoul, South Korea, where I was born and raised. After visiting a photography exhibition in high school, I became fascinated with photography as a medium that can intuitively capture "human emotions". Since then, I have been studying the history of photography and photography techniques through photography books. Since college, I have been documenting Korean traditions, rituals, and festivals for many years after witnessing the disappearance of unique traditions in Korean society, which is undergoing rapid social change (westernization, capitalization, and individualization).  I traveled to Korea's ritual sites every Saturday and Sunday to photograph them. As Korean society changed under the influence of modern capitalism and Westernization, I did not stand by and watch the traditional and indigenous culture that Koreans had long protected disappear and change. In April 2001, I was a visiting researcher in Osaka, Japan until March 2002, studying anthropological film at the National Museum of Ethnology. Having worked in photography for decades, I am currently interested in ethnographic documentary photography and have received awards and recognition for my unique photographic work. In 2022, I was a finalist in the Prix Off 2022-Arles Exposition in Arles, France, and selected for the Shoot (Photo/Video) Official Selection at the London International Creative Competition. I have exhibited my work in various art galleries. In 1997, I participated in the Shamanism Special Exhibition at the 2nd Gwangju International Biennale in Gwangju, South Korea. I also participated in the "Summer Show 2022" at Artmora Gallery in New Jersey, USA and the "Thinking Media Joint Exhibition" at Songdo Artspace IN in Incheon, Korea. When someone asks me, "Why do you take photographs?" I answer, "If you don't record it, no one will remember it. I focus on capturing the human and ritual aspects of cultures around the world by researching and photographing rituals, folklore, festivals, and religious mysteries from various regions such as Korea, Japan, Nepal, Bali in Indonesia, Ladakh, and North India. My photographic documentation serves as a means of preserving the archives of rituals, indigenous religions, and shamanism, the last cultural heritage of humanity that is rapidly disappearing in the face of modernization and globalization. I have photographed numerous rituals, religions, and festivals in Korea, Ladakh, Nepal, North India, Japan, Indonesia Bali to address questions about the origins of Korean culture through the lens of Korean folk culture and shamanism, and I plan to continue my work in the future.

20 Years of Documentation - Rituals and Humanity What makes us human? I have been asking myself this question for a long time. Everyday life is pretty much the same for people all over the world. It is religion, festivals and rituals that make people human. I've been making movies all my life. I've been shooting rituals all my life, without any intentional staging, just what was actually happening in that space at that time. About people and rituals. A ritual is a set of activities, including gestures, words, actions, objects, etc., performed in a particular order. Rituals can be characterized as the traditions of a community, including religious communities. Rituals are characterized, but not defined, by formalism, traditionalism, consistency, rules, sacred symbolism, and performance. Rituals are a feature of all known human societies. They include rites of worship and sacraments in organized religions and sects, as well as rituals of initiation, atonement, and purification. They include oaths of allegiance, consecrations, coronations, marriages, and funerals. Shamanism and other rituals can provide psychotherapeutic healing, leading anthropologists such as Jane Atkinson to theorize how. Atkinson argues that shamanic rituals have the following effects Rituals for individuals may depend on the broader audience's perception of the shaman's power, which in turn makes the shaman more likely to favor the audience than to cure the patient. There are many reasons why people perform rituals, and these reasons can be based on a variety of factors, including culture, customs, beliefs, social relationships, and personal goals. Common reasons include culture and custom. Culture and customs convey the norms and values of a society, and rituals emphasize and perpetuate these norms and values. For example, weddings, festivals, and graduations are often ritualized according to a particular culture or custom. Belief and religion: Rituals often have a meaning and purpose associated with religion. Religious rituals include worship, prayer, sacraments, rites, and ceremonies that are used to practice and emphasize the beliefs of a religion. Religious rituals also play an important role in maintaining and reinforcing beliefs and strengthening bonds between communities. Social relations and community: Rituals can also be used to establish and maintain social relationships. Weddings and funerals can help strengthen relationships with family, relatives, friends, and co-workers and create a sense of community. Sense of community. Provide personal meaning and purpose: Rituals can provide personal meaning and purpose. Rituals that honor individuals: Rituals that honor personal events or life milestones can add meaning to an individual's life and help create a sense of identity and belonging. Express and highlight emotions: Rituals can also be used to express and emphasize particular emotions.

* All original films are 35mm positive films.*

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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Manshin( A word used to describe a female shaman in Korea ) who became possessed during the initiation rite. Filmed location: In-cheon , Korea

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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On Jeju Island, an island south of the Korean Peninsula, many rituals that reflect the lives of Jeju Island women who live alongside the rough sea are handed down. Filmed location: Je-ju Island , Korea

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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Korean Kut is a comprehensive art. It includes epics, myths, dances, songs, plays, games, art, and clothing. Above all, the rituals that reverently serve the gods are outstanding. Filmed location: Kim-po , Korea

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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Koreans have enjoyed dancing and singing since ancient times, and the old traditional dances are passed down intact in Korean Kut Kim Sook-ja, a living cultural asset, is dancing in an old-fashioned way. Filmed location: Seoul , Korea

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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Salpuri dance that carries the soul of the dead on a dragon boat and prays for a peaceful transfer to the world of paradise. Filmed location: Tong-yong, Korea

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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A virgin who lived a normal life. Suddenly she began to suffer from a divine illness and suffered from auditory hallucinations. So she performed her initiation rite. Filmed location: In-cheon , Korea

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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In traditional Korean society, it was believed that if a virgin and a bachelor died because they could not get married, their souls would wander aimlessly in the afterlife, so a soul wedding ceremony was held in the doll Filmed location: Kang-jin, Korea

© Hwan Kim - A ritual to bring the soul of a fisherman who drowned in the sea to this world. Filmed location: Jin-do, Korea
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A ritual to bring the soul of a fisherman who drowned in the sea to this world. Filmed location: Jin-do, Korea

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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NaerimKut (a virgin who falls into a trance during a ritual in which a spirit resides in her body) Filmed location: Po-cheon , Korea

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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In Nepal, where Hindu culture dominates, shamanism is a part of life. In remote villages in Nepal, Zakkri still remains to provide healing and destiny counseling to the villagers. Filmed location: Dobhan , Nepal

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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In Nepal, where Hindu culture dominates, shamanism is a part of life. In remote villages in Nepal, Zakkri still remains to provide healing and destiny counseling to the villagers. Filmed location:Kathmandu , Nepal

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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Nepal is a land of festivals. A priest is carrying the image of a goddess to a temple in Nepal, the home of the Himalayan gods. Filmed location:Kathmandu , Nepal

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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In Ladakh, the land of seclusion, Amchi (medicine shaman) Sonam Changmo is falling into trance before treatment. Filmed location: Leh , Ladakh

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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In Ladakh, a land of seclusion, a land with a harsh natural environment, Amchi (medicine shaman) is preparing a ritual before treating the villagers. Filmed location: Basgo , Ladakh

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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In Ladakh, the New Year festival is a festival where life and native religion communicate. A young monk at a temple falls into trance. Filmed location:Mato , Ladakh

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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A Boen shaman from Tibet's indigenous religion who came into exile from mainland Tibet falls into a trance and meditates deeply. Filmed location: Tibetan refugee village, Nepal

© Hwan Kim - Miko ( Japanese female shaman ) officiating at a Japanese shrine Filmed location: Osaka, Japan
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Miko ( Japanese female shaman ) officiating at a Japanese shrine Filmed location: Osaka, Japan

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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A priest dances during the Dosmoche festival in Bhutan, which is influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. Filmed location: Paro, Bhutan

© Hwan Kim - Image from the The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... photography project
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In the Andes, a highland region that has maintained a unique cultural environment, there are local people who became trans by consuming coca leaves. Filmed location: Taquille island, Titicaca lake , Peru

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The origins of human culture - In search of traces of priests and shamans... by Hwan Kim

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