Lindsay here on a Sunday afternoon. We have had a wonderful weekend in Korea. We headed out of Gwangju early Saturday morning for a day trip to Jinju.
This city of some 350,000 people is the home to several good cutural events to check out. One of which is Korean bull fighting, something we have been wanting to see for the past two years but never got around to.
So a group of our good friends checked it out on Saturday. And what a day it was. Our first real day of Spring. Sunny, 60 degrees, and full of laughter and good times. (Though I can’t say for sure if the bulls would agree.)
We took a quick tour of the market in Jinju and ate a restaurant known for their bibampap (red pepper rice and vegetable dish). The city is much smaller than Gwangju and has a different, more bucolic feel–which is always a good break from our big city.
There is also a fortress we visited there. When I say “visit” I mean we paid $1 to get in and then sat on a big rock next to the river–a famous place where a courageous and beautiful female entertainer in the 1500s helped kill a Japanenese general by luring him to the cliff and the pulling him off with her to their deaths below. We, however, laid on the rocks and dried like squid, soaking in the sun and warmth.
We eventually made it to the bull fighting area, located about 10 minutes (depending on which breakneck speed your cabbie goes) away from the town center. The arena was relatively new and very nice, and outdoors–perfect for this perfectly magical day outside.
So we sat around and watched the bulls fight. But before you start shouting ole put all images of matadors waving red flags to angry bulls out of your head. The Korean version of bull fighting is quite different.
The event is a straight contest between two bulls, who square up in front of each other like sumo wrestlers, putting their heads together and pushing until one tucks tail and runs. The one that doesn’t run is the winner.
The contests have been held since the Silla dynasty (B.C. 57-A.D. 935) and has been linked to farming. Trainers are largely farmers who raise the cattle — and the sport is supposed to have evolved as a way for farmers to pass the time during the quiet seasons.
While the sport sometimes felt forced, it was a great way for us to pass a quiet day in Korea.
If you are in Korea and want to read more about it, check out this article in the Korea Herald. The event is free.