Shamanistic rituals are still very much a part of Korea's eastern seaboard culture. Religious ceremonies, seasonal rites, and profane festivities are among the many kind of events in which Korean shamans play an important role. In this shamanistic tradition, as with many shamanistic traditions around the globe, individual shamans are seen as mediums between the world of the sacred - the world that belongs to the gods - and the world of the profane - our world. In other words, the shaman's job is to help people transcend the mundane for the holy. In order to achieve this end, many of the shamans of Korea play music and dance. They may even be expected to perform these tasks for several days straight. As a result of all this practice, these shamans are often consummate musicians, masters of melody, and experts in over one hundred rhythmic patterns.
On Korea: Shamanistic Ceremonies of the Eastern Seaboard, Kim Suk Chul, who has been given the official title of "Important Intangible Cultural Property" by the South Korean government, plays such shamanistic music with the members of his Kim Suk Chul Ensemble. The three extended percussion and woodwind pieces that they perform on this CD have the quality of being both ethereal and weighty. Gwaengwari and jing gongs, jegum cymbals, the changgo (a double-headed hourglass shaped drum, also spelled changko or janggu), the puk (a double-headed barrel drum), and a double-reed woodwind instrument called hojok are used by the Kim Suk Chul Ensemble to unfold their highly energetic melodic and polyrhythmic aural filigrees. Recorded on 5 December 1991 in Pusan, Korea, these recordings of the Kim Suk Chul Ensemble traverse the borderland of ordinary time with mesmerizing fervor.