Tuesday, March 29, 2005


I didn't know this pheneomenon even existed in the Land of the Morning Calm. But, apparently it does. But with a twist:
With steam pouring from their nostrils and hooves pounding the sand, the two prize bulls square off warily, then clash head-on like freight trains.

There is plenty of blood and guts on display in Korea's own version of bullfighting that draws crowds of thousands to this rural community, the center of the sport in the southeast of the country.

But unlike Spanish bullfighting, there are no matadors, no swords and capes and no killing of any kind.
I'm not quite sure how they can claim that there is "no killing of any kind" when it seems that there certainly is at least the possibility that one of the bulls might successfully gore the other one. But I suppose the point is that the aim of the fight isn't killing.

A few more snippets:
There is no particular breed of prize fighting bull. Competitors are selected from ordinary Korean bulls with light brown hair and short but sturdy horns curving gently forward.

Training includes pulling heavy tires, climbing up hills, butting against poles and even swimming.

Stamina food is prepared before matches, recipes of which vary in accordance with handlers.

"Some bulls are treated to expensive herb tonics. Others enjoy mudfish and live octopus," an official of Cheongdo County says.

Ringside betting on bullfights used to be illegal but following a strong lobbying effort by bullfight organizers, South Korea's National Assembly in February last year passed a law legalizing the practice.
Thanks to a former student for sending me this interesting story.

From what I've seen in TV, it seems very unlikely that the the animals would succeed in getting the life out of each other. Blood may run a bit, but those beasts are not out there to kill but to chase the other away. And the looser takes a run. They've also had Korea vs. Japan games; my memory may be selective, but I remember Korea winning the one that I saw about.

Note the vocabulary distinction: the Korean one between two bulls is sossaum, and the Spanish-Iberian one t'u-u
I went to one of those a few years back. I got hammered on soju and dongdongju will a couple of old guys.

As for the bull fighting... let me just say that the competition is 'subtle.' The bulls tended to lean on each other for half an hour before one of them would quit (kind of like some heavyweight boxing matches).
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