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The Korea Now Podcast

Dec 16, 2019

*** Correction: In the audio of this podcast I mistakenly referred to Merose Whang as an “Assistant Professor”, it should instead be ‘Associate Professor’; I also mistakenly referred to “Hiram University” when it should be ‘Hiram College’

This episode of the Korea Now podcast features an interview that Jed Lea-Henry conducted with Merose Hwang. They speak about the history of Korean Shamanism (the Mudang), the role they played in people’s lives, how the colonial period changed their place in society, the way they were painted as antithetical to the new ideal of modernisation, Shamanism’s suppression and criminalisation at this time, the way notions of modern womanhood were used to shift society away from its traditions and history, the attempts to promote modern medicine by contrasting it with the Shamans, how the Japanese colonial government came to see the Shamans as an economic drain, Shamanism’s revival inside Korea following the collapse of the colonial government, its place in Korean society today, and importantly the ways that this period has shaped and distorted our understandings of both Korean Shamanism and the modernisation of Korea.

Merose Hwang is an Associate Professor of History and the Program Coordinator for the Asian Studies Minor at Hiram College. She has held positions as a research fellow at the Institute for Korean Studies, Yonsei University, and has been a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for the Study of Religion, Sogang University. She has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Kathryn W. Davis Fellowship for Peace, Korea Foundation’s Rising Stars Program, Connaught Fellowship, Samsung Fellowship, the Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies, and most recently the Korea Foundation. Relevant to this podcast, Merose is the author of: ‘Shamans and Superstitious Mothers: Modern Healthcare Discourse in 1920s-30s Korea’ (, and ‘The Mudang: Colonial Legacies of Korean Shamanism’ (

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