Menu Skip

Sharing in the past

Pumashi (exchange work) and Doore (farmers’ cooperative groups) are examples of community sharing activities from Korea’s past

Pumashi is a small working group formed in a village through personal relationships. In a farming community, there were beautiful customs of helping each other in turn when there was too much work to be done alone in a short period of time, such as building a dam, transplanting rice to fields, and weeding, etc.

One of the characteristics of doore is that it was limited to men due to their physical strength, and obligating everyone in a village to participate. This reflects the fact that rice farming was done by men and doore had a deep relationship with this. Compared with having said deep relationship of doore with rice farming, pumashi can be said to be a proper labor type for field farming.
Pumashi generally consisted of 3~6 people, and were used to lend help to each other for farming, building houses, digging wells, or women’s milling. Therefore, most pumashi were temporary and made up of relatives and close friends in a village. Pumashi required personal or small groups with mutual needs and the desire to help each other, and sometimes, the belief and ideas state that pumashi can be organized with people in a similar situation.

‘Kimchi-making Culture’, registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Community kimchi-making (kimjang) in Korea has been registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The 8th UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Committee has confirmed the presence of ‘Kimjang: Making and Sharing Kimchi in the Republic of Korea’ on a Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Committee announced “Kimjang contributes to boosting the value of intangible cultural heritage by strengthening community solidarity through sharing of kimchi with neighbors through many Korean generations. The Committee unanimously decided to register the community kimchi-making culture in acknowledgement of its contribution.”.

Kimjang in Korea is not just a dish or the act of making kimchi, but is a major event where all family members get together and a village event where all the residents gather to help each other.

‘Sunuleum’, Jeju’s unique sharing culture

As a unique traditional custom on Jeju Island, this is similar to pumashi on the mainland. Sunuleum has a meaning beyond simple cooperative work as a custom to be done in the production community.

Sunuleum is the noun form of a verb meaning “exchange labor”. Generally, farming neighbors help each other in turn by exchanging labor. Each village on Jeju Island is divided into small groups and establishes a cooperative organization to help each other. Different from gye (契) or jeop which specify order or rules, when there is a difficult task in a village, people form a temporary sunuleum to help each other in determining working order. Usually any group that gets together for community work (like building a house, fixing a roof, bringing big trees down from the mountains, rolling millstones, or constructing roads) and farming (like weeding, stepping on soil, etc.) is called sunuleum.