Announcement of new project, crowdfunding campaign

Hello all! Alas I have returned to Jeju Island to finish a project I started before the pandemic. I’m launching a kickstarter to fund the new, fancy book.

If you can contribute or share with friends, followers or anyone who might be interested please, please do 🙂

I’ll be back soon with some updates.


From my social media post:

Hello friends! I’m officially launching a Kickstarter campaign today for my new project ‘Scattering’—A photobook on shamanism and crows in South Korea. ‘Scattering’ is a high-quality 150 page photography book about the relationship between people and crows in a tiny village on Jeju Island (the setting of the upcoming Netflix series ‘Island of Sea Women’).

As part of their shamanic faith residents of Jeju Island leave portions of food for scavenging animals, especially crows. While this relationship is likely hundreds of years old, the ritual feeding of birds dates back to ancient societies.

I could use your help to fund the printing of this book. I currently have an exhibition on the project open in South Korea and the book is ready to hit the press. I will ship it across the world when it comes out this summer. Rewards include prints and copies of the book.

You can help by pledging any amount. You can also contribute by sharing the link on your page or in a private message with anyone you think will be interested in South Korean culture, crows, especially crow intelligence, shamanism, environmentalism, traditional faiths and lifestyles.

I’ve worked really hard on this one. If you can help out in any way, please reach out. Friends with followings or audiences, I can offer incentives if you want to help by sharing with your contacts.

Further down the road I am thinking of starting a small press to publish beautiful small-run photobooks, especially ones that attempt to solve a mystery of some sort like I’ve done with documenting these crows.

Thanks for your support! Message me with any questions 🙂


The Book

‘Scattering’ is a limited edition photography book about crow feeding rituals on Jeju Island in South Korea. As part of their shamanic faith residents of Jeju Island leave portions of food for scavenging animals, especially crows. Over five years, I documented the special relationship between people and large-billed crows in the village of Darakut. While this relationship is likely hundreds of years old, the ritual feeding of birds dates at least back to ancient societies such as Egypt and Vedic India. It is even depicted on the murals uncovered at Pompei. ‘Scattering’ explores ritualistic bird-feeding in South Korea and its profound implications.

Why Jeju Island?

I first came to Jeju Island as an English teacher fifteen years ago. Five years into my stay I discovered the island’s shamanic mythology. From that point on I started learning about shamanism from the island’s elders. My research on shamanism led me to write about issues related to gentrification and the desecration of sacred shamanic shrines. After reading several articles on crow facial recognition, and eventually scores of papers on the topic, I realized Jeju Island could point me to a possible origin story of this amazing ability of crows and other corvids. Jeju has a wide range of fascinating cultural practices. One of its cultural treasures is ‘scattering’.

That’s wild!

Part of Jeju’s ancient native religion, Jeju mugyo—the shamanic religion specific to Jeju Island—involves a surprising connection between humans and birds, especially crows. This is a phenomenon that might shed broader light on an ancient relationship, the way that we humans see crows and—fascinatingly—the way they see us.

Crows (and other animals no doubt) are always watching us, more than we ever seem to realize.

‘Scattering’ book cover mock-up

How this book is different from other photobooks

As far as I can tell ‘Scattering’ is among the few artistic photography books that seriously aim to solve a scientific problem. In the supplementary booklet which is an insert in the book, I give my assessment of the ritual crow feeding in Darakut village. Following the data I collected, I offer several possible explanations as to how the crows might recognize which days shamanic food offerings are available to them.

You could say this project is part of the ‘research art’ genre. However, in this case the project aims to produce actual science, not just an artistic representation of others’ scientific findings. The work is also not overtly theoretical like much research art, but accessible in its format. I hope to do more of these sorts of books on other topics in the future.

 project video thumbnail

So mysterious

How did the group of large-billed crows (Corvus macrorhynchos) living near Darakut recognize what days the annual shamanic ceremonies were held? On these special days the villagers make food offerings for shamanic gods, a portion of which is left behind for crows and other birds. Like clockwork, on ritual days and only on ritual days, the crows arrive from many miles away to feast on the portion of food left for them. How were they figuring it out? Was it by sound? But crows don’t hear so well. Are they aware of the cycling seasons? Could they predict when the ceremonies would be held? Villagers have their own theories based on years of observation. Even when a single villager visited alone to make a smaller offering, crows joined the feast. It is a well known fact that crows can differentiate between individual human beings and recognize and memorize individual human faces. Was facial recognition involved here? Was it something else? A combination of things? The deeper I dug the more interesting this all became. 

Colorful ribbons left as offerings to the gods in Darakut’s village shrine 
A woman performing gosirae, the sacred act of sharing food with birds, especially crows 
Ritual feeding of crows takes place at both large village festivals and is performed by individuals. There is a large number of context in which ritual offerings are made on Jeju Island.

The Photographer

Joey Rositano has been documenting shamanism on Jeju Island for a decade. 

Joey Rositano is from Nashville, Tennessee. The last fifteen years he has mostly lived on Jeju Island in South Korea. He expected to stay in South Korea for only a year, but an unexpected and rare illness kept him on the island for his recovery. Though he experienced hardship in the first years of his illness, it was this twist of fate that led him to encounter shamanism on Jeju Island which he would later spend many years documenting. He has written about shamanism on Jeju Island, published a previous photo book and worked on a number of other projects about the island. To learn more about shamanism on Jeju Island, visit his website—— or watch his TEDx talk from 2018.

Joey is currently moving between South Korea, his native Nashville and elsewhere in the world. He is also working on a non-fiction book about Eurasian shamanism.


The process involved interviewing and photographing local residents with the aim of gaining their insights into the phenomenon of ritual crow feeding, observing the crows and massive amounts of research—reading scores of papers on corvid behavior. 

Rositano and Ae Kyung Byun carrying out interviews and shooting portraits in Yonggang-ri. 
Interviewing and photographing members of the Yonggang community, a ‘mid-mountain’ village in northern Jeju.

Village elders discussing ‘Gosirae’ or the ritual feeding of crows.

 project video thumbnail

Test printing an early version of the book at home

Following the crows by car and on foot was challenging, but they were easier to find than one would think.
Getting close was more challenging.
Crows wait to feast on shamanic offerings 
Village residents prepare offerings for the shrine altar

The ‘mid-mountain’ villages of Darakut and Yonggang

Spreads from the book

Interview Excerpts from the Book

Book Details

—150~ pages

 â€”full color pages on premium semi-gloss 130pp paper

 â€”poster foldout

—additional 50~ page booklet insert detailing my experiences with the large-billed crows of Darakut

The Rewards

Two ‘Scattering’ Photobooks $155

Three ‘Scattering’ Photobooks $225

$750 An online interactive presentation to your group or institution on the project (via Zoom or your format of choice)

What your pledge will help fund

—More than 3 years of research on this project

—Camera equipment costs, transportation and other costs involved in the documentary process

—Hundreds of hours of photo editing and writing

—Printing costs for 300-500 high-quality, full color photo books

—Exposure for the project

Massive amounts of research and fieldwork went into making this project come to light. What started as a weekend ‘side project’ has turned into a full time job. I truly appreciate your contribution!

Follow me and my work at:




Tedx Talk:

Find my other books:

Amazon: Joey Rositano

Risks and challenges

Most of the challenges for this project have already been tackled as the books are 100% finished and ready for printing. The printing process typically takes a few weeks and then the books will be ready for your coffee table/ home library or wherever you wish to house them. I will pack and ship out the other rewards as soon as the kickstarter ends. As for past challenges, since I was already documenting shamanism on Jeju Island for many years and have many local contacts, starting the project was a comfortable and fluid experience. But then came the pandemic. This meant that for a number of years I could only photograph the crows and was unable to interact with locals. I returned to Jeju Island in 2023 to finish the project I started some years earlier.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

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