Seohaean Baeyeonsingut, Exorcism for Abundant Fishing
Seohaean Baeyeonsingut is an exorcism ritual that takes place on top of a boat in the West Coast region. It is performed to the gods to ask for abundant catches of fish at sea.
Incheon is considered a central fishing city in the West Coast region and has practiced the Seohaean Baeyeonsingut from a long time ago. Every year on lunar calendar date July 7, all fishermen in the West Coast region gather. Together, they collect funds and participate in an exorcism rite to ask the sea and heaven gods for their safety and abundance in catch.
July 7 is the day when fishermen lost at sea can see the Big Dipper, the brightest stars that will help them find their way like a compass. From olden times, Koreans believed that the Big Dipper was the constellation of stars that controlled the time of space and human lives. That is why humans have prayed for health and happiness in the direction of the Big Dipper. On the night of July 7, popular folklore also has it that two love stars, Gyunwoo and Jiknyu, meet and form the beautiful galaxy. This is another reason why the exorcism is held on this day.
The exorcism is performed as a prayer to the gods of the heaven and the sea. It is believed that the rite is more effective if performed by a shaman, so it is traditionally performed with one.
The shaman who is in charge of the Seohaean Baeyeonsingut is Kim Geum-hwa, a Gangshinmoo shaman. Kim Geum-hwa is 76 years of age this year. Her divine spirituality is highly revered, making her a respected shaman in Korean society. She is even popular abroad in foreign countries. In 1982, as an envoy of cultural exchange, she toured seven cities in the United States for two months to celebrate the 100th year of amity between Korea and the United States. She has also been invited as a guest of honor to the International Arts Symposium.
Showing respect to the gods, sea and nature, Seohaean Baeyeonsingut is a sacrificial ritual that reveals the Korean fishermen's genuine wishes for successful fishing and safety in the water. This service also reveals the hearts of Koreans who appreciate the gods and nature. At the same time, it is a large, festive celebration of fishermen that all villagers can participate in and enjoy.