[Hallyupedia] Shimmani (심마니)

나확진/인턴 이효윤 / 2021-08-21 07:00:22
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By Ra Hwak Jin / Lee Hyo Yoon


[ENG]: A term that refers to people who gather wild ginseng for a living. 

▲ This photo, provided by the officials of Hamyang, shows a 100-year-old wild ginseng. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 

“Shimmani,” also known as dubbed “Shimmemani,” is a name for people who gather wild ginseng for a living. “Shim,” “me,” and “mani” means ginseng, mountain and person, respectively, according to the Encyclopedia of Korean Culture of the Academy of Korean Studies. Some say that “me” means “dig out”, not mountain.

▲ This photo, provided by dubbed South Korea Traditional Shimmani Organization, shows a 100-year-old wild ginseng. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 



◇ Nature sowed ginsengs…people looking for wild ginsengs

Wild ginsengs have been considered as the best elixir from the past. Even today, although ginsengs grown by people’s hands are popularized, there is expectation and demand for wild ginsengs. Prices range from hundred thousand to hundred millions of won depending on its age.

A set of 6 root plants including 110-year-old wild ginsengs was sold in 125 million won on “2005 South Korea wild ginseng. Medical herbs competition” held by Nonghyup in 2005, aT center, Yangjae-dong, Seoul.

As wild ginsengs carry such high value, there have been and still are people digging and collecting these natural elixirs for a living. Nowadays shimmani generally refers to both those who usually farm and look for ginsengs from time to time and those who dig not only for ginsengs but for other herbs as well. There has been South Korea Traditional Shimmani Organization.
▲ This photo, provided by the officials of Hamyang, shows dubbed Chunjong wild ginseng which of high value. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 



◇ Taboos, development of their own cultures

Traditionally shimmanis went into the mountains in groups because they had to stay in the wild for days and there were risks of getting attacked by wild animals or falling from a high place. The eldest and the most experienced of the group was called dubbed 'einmani', and the youngest was dubbed esojangmanie.

In addition, the shimmnais have developed their own cultures. They believed that they needed the care of the mountain god in order to successfully find wild ginsengs. So, they made many taboos such as entering the mountains are only allowed on odd-number dates and in odd-numbered groups. In addition, before entering the mountains they did not eat meat or go to feasts or funerals. Also, in the mountains, they minimized conversations and used private languages to avoid using languages of the common world.

When they discover the plant, the discoverer shouts "Shim Boadda!“(means, I saw ginseng!) loudly three times. The group made an agreement in prior whether to share the found plant or let the founder take it for oneself. If they decided to do as the latter, at the signal of the founder the others have to stop moving and sit on the spot. The founder has to mark all the wild ginsengs that come into his view and signals the others to continue digging. Then the others look for unmarked ginsengs as their share.

After digging out the root plants, they made a brief ritual to thank the mountain god for the day’s earning. They believed if they don’t make a ritual for the god by heart, the angry god will curse them with a disaster.


▲ This photo, provided by the officials of Hamyang, shows a banner saying 2021 Wild Ginseng Anti-aging Expo D-30. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


◇ Hamyang Wild Ginseong Festival

Hamyang at the skirt of Mt. Chiri, South Gyeongsang Province, where there have been many shimmanis, is holding the 16th Hamyang Wild Ginseng Festival this year. It includes introduction of shimmanis, and “’Shimmani’ Traditional Wild Ginseng Digging Experience,” and sales of shimmanis’ wild ginsengs. The festival is to be held between 8th and 15th of September. Especially, the officials have added 2021 Wild Ginseng Anti-aging Expo (9.10~10.10) to the annual festival.


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