Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fighting the Bull about Korean Bullfighting at Cheongdo

video
When I told a friend of mine that I was going to watch bull fighting in Korea, I got the "No thanks! I puked my guts out when I went to a bull fight in Spain." What is controversial about bullfighting in Latin Cultures is totally absent from the bull fighting contests in South Korea. I had made an earlier posting about attending this cultural event that is an annual event in Cheongdo, South Korea. I had heard stories that were akin to dog fights, complete with gratuitous violence. There was even some outcry about boycotting this event from some of our expatriate community members. I took all of this into consideration. I weighed it out. If what was said was true, I had to go because it would totally oppose my view of Korean culture as peaceful and incredible respectful of life. It didn't matter what anyone thought, I am here in Korean to take in as much as I can while I am a guest in this country.

I am very happy to report that some of the reports that I had read had to be written by individuals who had only heard these 'foreign folk tales' and failed to see the beauty of this contest. They obviously never went and only reported hearsay accounts, overlaid their own prejudices to discredit this event.
I saw the handlers treat the animals with a respect that was returned by the animal. These matches are matches of the beast's strength. There is a reason these contests have endured for over one thousand years...they are indeed entertaining and have the spirit of sportsmanship. The oxen are valued creatures in the rural communities, and for their livestock to be mistreated for brutality sake would be viewed by Koreans as incredible waste.
A match is started by the handlers (trainers) guiding the bulls towards each other with a single rope. When the bulls are engaged the rope is disengaged. The match is immediately ended when a bull retreats. What this equates to is little more than a shoving match, where the most violent episode occurs with the initial contact of the bulls meeting each other with force and locking horns.
I invite you to watch the video, which took forever to upload. You will hear not a blood thirsty crowd, but laughter and you will see respect for the display of power of these magnificent animals. Perhaps these kinds of contests would be far better than the sheer slaughter of the Latin bull fighting rings we see in the west. There is no sport to watching the slaughter of animals.

I continue to be amazed at what I find here in Korea...and glad to debunk all of the nay-sayers. Never believe anything that is by word of mouth or through established rumour mills. When in doubt, always check it out for yourself. There will always be someone who says you shouldn't do something or go somewhere. Follow your own path.

8 comments:

Mio Debnam said...

another interesting post! Thanks.

lionmother said...

I couldn't find the video, but I have been to a Spanish bullfight. It is so sad to see the bull stuck with those spears and then trying to get away he gets killed with a sword between the eyes. I had to put my hand in front of my eyes.

Very different way of having a bullfight. This is really a fight between bulls.:) Thank you for showing us this.

Esther said...

It's so sad to see people of this era (for whatever reason) exploits bulls to fight for entertaining people.

Marilyn said...

Thank you Mio...

Marilyn said...

Hi Barbara...it is the first image...you should be able to click it.

There is no killing of these bulls, they are used for farming...still, even in this age.

You won't have to cover your eyes.

Marilyn said...

Esther,

The way that they do this, is more like a celebration of the animal...and showing off of their livestock...

Exploitation is something people to everything...not that I am for animal cruelty. However, look carefully...everything in life is exploited, even a cup of coffee can be exploited. Women are far more exploited than anything for money (after all sex sells).

Korean Rum Diary said...

I also was very pleasantly surprised by my visit to the Cheong-do bullfight! Initially I assumed it would be the same as in Latin countries, but in fact it was simply a natural contest between two bulls that people turned up to watch. Fascinating.

My Report:
http://koreanrumdiary.blogspot.com/2009/04/oxes-of-evil.html

Marilyn said...

That is what is amazing about Korea...how they seem to be more at harmony with nature.

Truly, it was inspiring to watch.