What is a “pujok” and why do I give it to my friends?
A “pujok” is a charm in Korean folk tradition used to ward off evil spirits. Fortune tellers and Buddhist monks have given me different kinds of charms for special purposes like protecting my friend, Achola Pala, when she was pregnant, or to help someone whose son was going to take a university entrance exam. Some of my friends think I have the gift of an adopted shaman’s daughter to tell fortunes and cast good spells into pujoks. That is probably because Mun OkSun, a famous Korean shaman from Cheju Island, DID declare me her “adopted daughter”. For the last few years, I have designed my own pujok and sent it to my friends to begin the Chinese New Year. Do charms work? That depends on who created them and how they landed in your hands. Seems to me there is plenty of possibility for truth in the power of collective faith and a friend’s blessings. You might think of a pujok like a prayer, a reminder that your hopes are also mine.
I carved the pujoks on linoleum block and printed it on rice paper. If you want a printable version for Year of the Pig, please write me about your hopes and dreams. The instructions are important: “Place on a wall opposite the front door of your office or house for maximum benefit”. And if you use one, please let me know how life turns out.