Some pretty radical news:
Major San-shin Ceremony was held
at Diamond Mountains in 2002!
Supplicants bow at the altar, wearing
official-ceremonial robes.
As traditional musicians play a
steady song calling down the spirits,
participants light candles, offer
incense and cash, then bow and
pray with sincere hearts for Korea's
prosperity and re-unification.
Mr. Choi Nam-eok, Chairman of
the the Korea Spirit-Respecting
Asscociation, prays at the altar
during the Ceremony for the
[Yong-wang-shin Daeje] at the
east coast.
This story is related to the photos on
this page and this page
UPDATES: An officially-approved 126-member South Korean delegation
visited Pyeongyang for 5 days to celebrate the 4335th annual
[Heaven-Opening Day]
(Korea's National Foundation Day; see pages 132-134 of my book) on
October 3rd, 2002.  They co-hosted a ceremonial festival at the 'Tomb of King
Dan-gun' (see page 208), and held performances about and a symposium on
Dan-gun.  This is another positive step towards cultural re-unification.
Photos of this tomb-site and more text are on the third page of this section.

This event was repeated on October 3rd, 2003.

In November 2004, construction of the Main Hall of Shin-gye-sa was completed
and a formal Buudhist Dedication Ceremony was held.  That was the first Hall
to be built there, more will follow in 2005 and beyond.  No word yet on whether
a traditional
San-shin-gak or modern Sam-shin-gak will be included...
General scene
of the 'great
ceremony' at
(where South
Korean Buddhists
of the Jogye Order
are now rebuilding
this once-major
Zen monastery.
Close-up of the Altar, loaded with
colorful fruit and sweet rice-cakes.
A musician is seen on the left.  
Front/bottom, a woman shaman in
purple coat bows in front of an
incense-burner and a cooked &
cleaned young pig with 10,000-won
($8) bills stuffed in its ears and
mouth.  The San-shin painting is
hung on the 9th-century Pagoda of
Shingye-sa Temple; it's a fairly
simple type, but more complex than
most used by Shamans, including
two deer on the left.  San-shin holds
the standard white-crane-feather
fan, and the angelic girl-attendant
offers a dragon-teapot (of green
tea, herbal medicine or wine?) and
a cup.  An angelic boy-attendant
can barely be made out on the left.
North Korea has never before permitted any open expression of Korea's native religious traditions.  
Thus it was a big surprise to read in the newspaper that they were allowing 600 members of a
major South Korean association of Shamans to travel up to the Diamond Mountains
Geum-gang-san] and hold a worship-ceremony for the Mountain-spirit [San-shin].  This took place
in late March 2002.

The Korea Spirit-Respecting Asscociation/Foundation [
Dae-han Kyeong-shin Yeon-hap-hoi]
applied for and was granted this privilege as a private civilian organization, with permission from the
southern government but no support or "blessing".  They set up an altar at the ruins of Shin-gye-sa
Temple, which was devastated in the Korean War and never rebuilt by the North.  Shin-gye-sa is in
the Outer Geum-gang area, part of which is now open to highly-restricted tourism by South
Koreans and foreign visito
rs.  Six hundred professional Shamans and supporters performed
ritual-respect for the
Geum-gang-san-shin for several hours.  The next morning they also held a
traditional Ceremony for the Dragon-King-spirit [
Yong-wang-shin Daeje] at the beautiful
Hae-geum-gang [Ocean Diamond] area where the broken granite peaks run right down to the coast
and into the water.

Named after the Diamond Sutra (a key scripture of Zen Buddhism, widely studied in Korea) and
also for the way its 10,000 jagged peaks of broken granite sparkle in the sun like piles of jewels,
Geum-gang-san has long been one of the most famous mountain-areas in East Asia.  It's beauty
was celebrated in hundreds of paintings, poems and essays, and its value as a site for spiritual
retreat & inspiration has been recognised and used by Buddhists and Shamans for at least 1600
years.  It is one of the top-nine most-sacred mountains of Korea.

Nobody knows just why the northern authorities permitted this, but it seems to be one more case
fulfilling what I predicted for the role of San-shin in the cultural re-unification of Korea in the 21st
Century, in Chapter 4 of my book.