Shamans and nativism: postcolonial trauma in Spirits’ Homecoming (2016) and Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits (2013)

Zoran Lee Pecic*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article examines the figure of the shaman in contemporary South Korean cinema. By taking a close look at Cho Jung-rae (Jo Jeong-rae)’s feature Spirits’ Homecoming (Gwihyang, 2016) and Park Chan-kyong (Park Chan-gyeong)’s documentary Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits (Mansin, 2013), the article argues that the figure of the shaman is deployed in such a way as to articulate South Korean postcolonial anxiety in two diverging ways. Whilst the former film draws on shamanism and nostalgizes the Korean past in relation to the issue of the ‘comfort women’ (military sex slaves) in contemporary South Korean politics, the latter eschews a coherent historical national narrative in favour of a more fragmented and interrogative account of not only South Korean shamanism but the country’s troubled relationship with the Korean War and the post-war modernization project. The article argues that where Cho Jung-rae’s film employs ethnocentrism as the primary lens for a nostalgic memory, Park Chan-kyong’s documentary disarticulates the historical trajectory of nationalist invocations of a shamanist past, as it aligns the nativist tradition with the wider pro-democracy minjung movement.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Japanese & Korean Cinema
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)69-81
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Important note from the Publisher regarding the attached version of the article: “This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Japanese & Korean Cinema on 25 Mar 2020, available online: .”


  • Kim Geum-hwa
  • Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits
  • nativism
  • nostalgia
  • Shamanism in South Korean cinema
  • Spirits’ Homecoming
  • ‘comfort women’

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