Korean traditional beliefs and energy transition: pungsu, shamanism, and the local perception of wind turbines
Eun-Sung Kim (Kyung Hee University)
Paper short abstract:
This article examines the relationship between Korean traditional beliefs such as pungsu theory and shamanism and local opposition to wind farms. It presents a unique Asian story on the local understanding of mountains and winds, as well as wind turbines, their noises and light.
Paper long abstract:
Onshore wind farms are constructed in mountainous rural villages where indigenous elderly people still believe in Korean traditional beliefs such as pungsu thought and shamanism. Built upon qualitative interviews with local residents in 7 villages near South Korean wind farms, this research examines the relationship between Korean traditional beliefs such as pungsu thought and shamanism and local opposition to wind farms. First, the interpretation of mountains and wind based on pungsu clashes with the favorable discourses on wind turbines. From the pungsu viewpoint, the wind turbine is considered similar to the iron stakes put on renowned Korean mountains by Japanese imperialists to block the national spirit of Korea during the Japanese colonial era. A straight, strong wind with high-energy efficiency for wind power generation is considered inauspicious in terms of pungsu. Second, the power of pungsu in local opposition to wind farms is more influential in a clan community on mountainous areas with a high proportion of elderly population. Third, senses correlate with religion in shaping the perception of wind energy. The strong noise of wind turbines is a reminder of bad memories related to the inauspicious winds associated with ghosts or dogaebbi deities. Some elderly residents also view the light of the wind turbines as the fire of the dogaebbi. Pungsu and Korean shamanism present a unique story on the local acceptance of wind farms that has never been heard in the Western debates on wind farms.
- Encounters between people, things and environments