How modern lifestyles are reshaping South Korea’s ancestral rituals
Amid rapid social changes, jesa, a ritual practice, sees a shift in its practice and purpose among Koreans of all ages
In contemporary South Korea, jesa, the traditional ritual of honoring ancestors, faces significant changes. This ritual, rooted in Confucian practices and dating back to the Joseon Dynasty, traditionally involves preparing food offerings on anniversaries of ancestors’ deaths and national holidays such as Seollal and Chuseok. However, as lifestyles and societal values evolve, so does the practice of jesa.
Kim Yeon-hwa, a 68-year-old homemaker, exemplifies these shifts. Once adhering to the rigorous schedule of performing jesa five times annually, she has recently scaled back these practices. With her children’s busy lives, Kim now prioritizes family gatherings over the labor-intensive preparation of ceremonial foods.
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