Dissertation Title:

Jeju Shamanism: Healing Intergenerational Trauma Through Collective Mourning


Heesun Kim

Date, Time & Place:

January 27, 2024 at 12:30 pm
Hyflex defense


This depth psychologically oriented ethnographic research has been conducted on Jeju Island in South Korea for twenty-eight months and explores how Jeju’s shamanic traditions have sought to heal intergenerational trauma surrounding the 4.3 Massacre, which killed 30,000 civilians from 1948 until 1954. This study examines human aggression and violence, spiritual connections with ancestors, and how collective mourning in Jeju shamanic rituals provided a critical space for addressing forbidden and prolonged grief in a community whose true history was denied by the government for decades. Forty Jeju shamanic rituals were observed through field research, with a focus on the ritual for the dead, and forty qualitative interviews were conducted with 4.3 survivors, victims’ families, shamans, and witnesses. The research findings show that 4.3 trauma has been transmitted across generations and community levels, and Jeju shamanic practices have significantly contributed to healing 4.3 trauma by consoling the victims’ dead souls and alleviating the suffering of living descendants through the collective mourning process. The analysis of the ritual for the dead and three death-related mythologies presents Jeju’s flexible worldviews, which actively accept death while bringing a closer connection to the ancestor’s spirits. Three case studies illustrate examples of intergenerational trauma healing through shamanic rituals, including this researcher’s personal mourning experiences as a main participant. Lastly, this research sheds light on the wisdom of Jeju shamanic practices to explore a broader scope of contemporary bereavement modalities and Western trauma treatment practices.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with Specialization in Integrative Therapy & Healing Practices, H, 2018
  • Chair: Dr. Mary Watkins
  • Reader: Dr. Lionel Corbett
  • External Reader: Dr. Sojeon Kang
  • Keywords: Depth Psychotherapy, Shamanic Healing, Intergenerational Trauma, Collective Mourning, Death Ritual, Jeju 4.3