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Korean Bullfights
By Audrey

Among the many things Korea is well known for, the Korean Bullfight tops the list. It is probably the only traditional bullfight in existence today, after having been passed down generations for the past 1,000 years. The Ch’ongdo Bullfight Festival is a symbol that reflects the culture and excitement of a sport that still holds a place in the hearts of many Koreans.

From the Stands

The word “bullfight” would evoke images of a raging bull and a smart bullfighter, both intent on fighting furiously against each other; a rather bloody and hostile game, generally speaking.

But the Korean-style bullfight is fairly different. Instead of acting as archenemies, both bull and fighter are partners. They act as a team against other pairs. Each match is a fight to gain the honor of becoming the best. To truly enjoy the Korean Bullfight, allow yourself to be swept by the excitement and enthusiasm of the challenge.

One of the best-conserved Korean Bullfight would be the Ch’ongdo Bullfight. Half of the Korean fighting bulls were brought up in Ch'ongdo. These bulls are dark brown in color, have strong horns, and weigh over 600 kilograms. The 1998 Ch'ongdo Bullfight festival featured the biggest national fight ever. The event took place in a traditional bullring and was watched by over 150,000 spectators.

Nonetheless, Korea is now in the midst of building a world-class bullring, which would be completed in 2001. When it is ready, bullfights would be the most exciting weekend sport ever.

From the Beginning

The Korean Bullfight had a humble beginning. It began when Korea was an agricultural society. Small fights were held between cattle to obtain more grass. The owners would encourage their cattle, thus attracting the attention of other viewers. This ‘barter game’ has now become an honorable bullfight for both the bull and owner.

From the Ring

Korean Bullfighting is more enjoyable if you know some of its basic rules. This is a simple explanation. Do forgive me if it’s brief; I did say “simple” after all.

Two bulls will be accompanied by their handlers to the ring. The bullfight then begins when the whistle is blown. These well trained fighting bulls shove, butt, and grunt against each other until one of them gives up or turns its back. There is no time limit and some matches can last a whole hour or more. There are almost 10 types of fighting techniques, some of which are:

1. Milch'igi : Pushing
2. Morich'igi : Head Attack
3. Mokch'gi : Neck Attack
4. Yopch'igi (Paech'igi) : Side pushing
5. P'ulgoli : Drawing Horns
6. P'ulch'igi : Horns Bumping
7. Tolch'igi : Head Pressing
8. Yont'a : Horns Bumping and Head Attack

The Korean Bullfight matches do occasionally extend beyond their own boundaries, such as the Korea-Japan Bulls Championship. After all, Japan is a country where bullfights are popular throughout the nation with the game’s history dating as far back as Korea’s. Visitors would be able to watch world class bull matches when the Japanese Champion Bull from Kagoshima-ken and Korea’s bullfighters ‘butt heads’ in the Ch’ongdo Bullfight Festival. What a match to earn national honor and pride! There is also the American-style Bull Riding Rodeo to add some variety. All these extras add up to the fun of bullfighting in Korea.

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