Korean shamanism, also known as Muism (Korean: Mugyo "mu [shaman] religion") or Sinism Shingyo "religion of the shin (hanja:) [gods]", is the ethnic religion of Korea and the Koreans. Although used synonymously, the two terms are not identical: Jung Young Lee describes Muism as a form of Sinism - the shamanic tradition within the religion.
Other names for the religion are Shindo ("Way of the Gods"), Shindoism (Shindogyo "religion of the Way of the Gods"), Gosindo ("Way of the Ancestral Gods"), and Pungwoldo ("Way of Brightness"). It has approximately 5-15 million followers.
In contemporary Korean language, the shaman-priest or mu is known as a mudang if female or baksu if male, although other names and locutions are used. Korean mu "shaman" is synonymous with Chinese wu, which defines priests both male and female. The role of the mudang is to act as intermediary between the spirits or gods, and the human plain, through gut (rituals), seeking to resolve problems in the patterns of development of human life.
Central to the faith is the belief in Haneullim or Hwanin, meaning "source of all being", and of all gods of nature, the utmost god or the supreme mind. The mu are mythically described as descendants of the "Heavenly King", son of the "Holy Mother [of the Heavenly King]", with investiture often passed down through female princely lineage. However, other myths link the heritage of the traditional faith to Dangun, male son of the He . . . more