Hae-joon seems like an ordinary middle-class, middle-aged family man. But his dreams are telling him a different story about himself. He has visions of his mother, a shaman, and is haunted by sounds of drums and chanting. Meanwhile his daughter lies bed-ridden with some mysterious ailment, preyed over zealously, if to little purpose, by his wife and her Christian cronies. He takes himself on a journey South, following scattered traces of his fire-obsessed mother, eventually to the festive scene of public shaman ceremonies on Jindo Island.
Jung Il-sung had shot both Kim Ki-young’s film Iodo and Eul-hwa, two very different treatments of Korean shamans, in 1979 and was interested in exploring the topic further with Im Kwon-taek. Im, for all his success in finding vivid ways of putting Buddhism on screen, has maintained that it is shamanism which lies at the roots of Korean religious culture.
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