THE completion of this book is owed to the kindness of a great many people. Among those who have played a crucial role in my academic life over the years, I wish to first thank Boudewijn Walraven for introducing me to folklore studies and to many a soju-guzzling, chain-smoking, spirit-whispering shaman at the foot of Seoul’s Namsan in the early hours of the weekend. Koen De Ceuster and Remco Breuker crucially guided me further into the world of Korean studies and to many visual, audial, and palatable delights. Nathan Hesselink encouraged me tremendously when I set first foot on the shaky ground of academia, and like the others and Keith Howard, he continues to be an inspiration. Keith, my doctoral adviser, never ceases to support and motivate me, for which I am extremely grateful. Jacqueline Vel, Mario Rutten, Willem van Schendel, and Leo Douw provided me with my first institutional home in Amsterdam, a place full of wonderful synergies; one I have become increasingly nostalgic about since leaving for Australia, perhaps because it no longer exists. As soon as I took up a position at the Australian National University, however, I began to make many new friends. Those who have since provided very helpful feedback on my work in general include, in no specific order, Ruth Barraclough, Hyaeweol Choi, Marcus Mietzner, Benjamin Penny, Katarzyna Cwiertka, Theodore Jun Yoo, Stephen Epstein, Jo Elfving-Hwang, Ross Tapsell, Michiel Baas, Geng Song, and Tessa Morris-Suzuki. In developing this manuscript in particular, I am hugely indebted to Clark Sorensen, who graciously dedicated much of his time giving invaluable, detailed advice on many aspects of the first draft. His comments have significantly improved my approach toward various aspects of my work and I hope the changes I made after his review do his efforts justice at least to some degree. My good friend Benjamin also provided sharp and insightful thoughts on one of the chapters. At University of Hawai‘i Press, I was very fortunate to gain the magnificent support of Masako Ikeda, who provided important feedback on my manuscript and (p.x) graciously guided me through the various procedures. Kristen Bettcher, finally, did an amazing job seeing this book through the production process.
The people and institutes who have helped me in Korea are too numerous to mention by name. I wish to sincerely thank, first and foremost, the Korea Foundation for its enormous support over the years. I was fortunate enough to receive one of the PhD scholarships it funded through the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and was able to rely on its support for a number of essential fieldwork trips. I am again grateful to the Foundation for the subsidy it provided for this publication. Another institute I wish to thank is the National Gugak Center. It has provided many occasions for me to meet people, and even after she took up the role of Director of the Busan National Gugak Center, So Inhwa and her network of peers have continued to go out of their way to respond to my queries and requests. Others who always offered generous assistance and hospitality to me on various occasions include performers Yi Ŭn’gwan, Yi Ŭnju, Muk Kyewŏl, Hwang Yongju, Yi Juna, Pak Chunyŏng, Yu Sangho, and Yu Chisuk, as well as professors Shim Usŏng, Im Tonggwŏn, and Kwŏn Oh Sung. Professor Yi Pohyŏng, in particular, never seemed to tire of my questions and requests and always welcomed me to his study, where he would dazzle me with fascinating anecdotes and collectibles. Jocelyn Clark gave important advice on my hypotheses, helped me on a few complicated quests, and along with Cecilia Heejeong Kim offered generous scoops of makkŏlli when my battery needed recharging. Together with her late husband and her daughters Ji Eun and Chihye, Chŏn Misuk provided a loving home in Seoul, heaps of yummy food, and many hilarious descriptions of Korean culture. Mr. Yi Sŏnggon at the National Folk Museum of Korea made it possible for me to reproduce the beautiful image on this book’s cover, while Mr. Tony Jung was extremely generous with his time helping me with several other illustrations. None of these delightful people are responsible for any of the incorrect or uninspiring parts of this book for which I take full responsibility (though, if urged to do so, I might pass the buck to the Boogie, rather than Australia’s sunshine).
I owe much gratitude to my family for always inspiring and supporting me. They are often missed, in part for their creativity and many passions and for making my work peeves seem so delightfully insignificant. I mention Shuge Wei only at this point, but she comes first in thought. With much love, wit, and care, she has turned my life into an adventure, and I find myself hoping time will slow down. These acknowledgments would not be complete, however, without an ode to Poktori, who for almost seventeen years accompanied me during my work while reminding me of shared meal times, until he sadly passed away during the final months of writing. Fortunately, Shuge and I were able to welcome another amazing boy into our lives not long after. I dedicate this book to her and our dearest Lucas, in loving memory of the greatest food thief who ever lived.