Jeju Scenery

At Search for Spirits on the Island of Rocks, Wind and Women is a feature-length documentary currently in its post-production stage, created by long-term Jeju resident Giuseppe (Joey) Rossitano. The director was inspired to document the lives of local shamans, known as Jeju musok, when his original film focusing on the island’s ghost stories took a twist.

Rossitano’s research and interviews with locals kept leading to the topic of Jeju’s shamans ancient shrines. The film’s mission turned into one to preserve the dying ‘other religion’ of Jeju, an island that holds 18,000 gods and 400 shrines. Rossitano documents this culture and has done so by choosing 5 different villages to focus on throughout the island.  Each holy monument has a deity and each deity has a bonpuli, or oral myth, associated with it. Rossitano’s documentary tells the stories of these deities, as well as the stories of the elders on Jeju island who still believe in them.


The filmmaker realized that Jeju’s youth are not aware of the myths their grandparents ‘know by heart’. He laments:

Young people in Jeju know Greek myth back and forth, better than western kids, you know, being in the society. But they don’t know the Jeju myths at all – except for one or two of the most popular ones supported by Unesco. Every village usually has 2-3 myths that most people over 60 know by heart and live by, and who pray to the gods involved in those myths. I was really astounded that the younger people had no idea. The myths are rich and complicated. It’s a whole canon of stories being neglected.

This film is also an ode to anthropologist Mr. Jin Sun Gi’s, an “unsung hero” according Rossitano. Jin Sun Gi painstakingly recorded all of the bonpuli by hand in the 1950’s and has preserved every single one in original dialect in his museum on Jeju.

Rossitano has now taken it upon himself to record the stories himself in film. The finished documentary will be the result of 18 months and 500 hours of footage. Rossitano still needs funding, however, to send the piece to film festivals around the globe, to ensure the story enveloped within it is spread.


Watch the Kickstarter film and donate, or share info to help raise money and awareness of this worthy project. If you do happen to be in Jeju this Saturday night, there’s .

Words by Loren Cotter.

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