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Shaman cleared of fraud after charging W100m for 'exorcism'

April 1, 2024 - 14:20 By Yoon Min-sik

A South Korean shaman who charged two people over 100 million won ($74,000) combined for exorcisms has been cleared of fraud charges by a local court, which said the defendant's action was a "religious action of some type" that does not necessarily warrant a desired result.

In March last year, the 50-year-old defendant surnamed Kim told a person surnamed Hong that Hong's illness was due to a ghost possession. Kim was paid around 79.3 million won to perform exorcism rituals over a period of seven months.

Another person surnamed Won, who was referred by Hong to Kim, was told that exorcism rituals were necessary to prevent the death of the person's entire family, and paid 25 million won for related rituals over a one-month period.

The court acknowledged that Kim had charged over 100 million won, but said there was not sufficient evidence to definitively say that Kim had coerced the money from the victims. "Even if those requesting (the rituals) did not get what they want, it cannot be said that the shaman deceived them," the court ruled, pointing out that Kim had carried out the rituals as requested by the plaintiffs.

There have previously been court cases involving shamans concerning rituals performed in exchange for positive results. These cases have often been decided by the shaman's promise for a specific result.

Last month a 66-year-old shaman surnamed Jang was sentenced to four years in jail for claiming that an offering would allow the victim to know the winning numbers of the weekly South Korean Lotto drawing.