Saturday, February 5, 2011

Korea Traditional Sports and Games

Cheongdo So Ssa-eum (Bull Fighting) Unlike Spanish bull fighting which pits man against bull, Korean bull fights are real bull fights: bull vs. bull. Two bulls butt heads and try to push each other backwards. The first bull to back off loses.

Ch'ajon-nori This is a provincial game involving the entire community. Two dongchae ("ships" made from wood and old rice stalks), each born by several strong men and captained by one leader, repeatedly ram into each other. If a leader falls down or if the dongch'ae is allowed to touch the ground, the opposing side wins.

Chang-gi (Korean Chess) Although very similar to Western chess, Chang-gi has a slightly different playing board, pieces, and rules. Like most strategic games, the rules can be easily picked up, but the skills of a good player take a long time to learn.

Hwa-t'u (Go-Stop) On trains, in the park, at restaurants and bars- almost anywhere you go you can see (and hear) the familiar sight of Koreans playing cards. To properly play, one should slap ones cards down when playing them. Most people play for money, although the stakes tend to be only 10 or 100 won per point for "friendly" games.

Jul T'agi (Rope Walking) Rather than simply walk from one end of the rope to the other, Korean tightrope walkers jump up and down, do somersaults, and tell jkes to the audience.

Kite Flying Not just a children's past time, many older Koreans enjoy flying kites, especially on major holidays such as Ch'usok and the Lunar New Year. The traditional Korean kite (yon) is made with bamboo sticks and Korean paper.

Nol-Ttwigi (Korean See-saw) Unlike in the West where riders sit atop either side of the see-saw, nol-ttwigi participants stand on their side, then jump up, forcing their partner into the air on the opposite side. This game is popular among females, usually during traditional holidays and festivals.

Paduk Called Go in Japan, paduk has a very large following in Korea. Played on a 19x19 line checkerboard, two players alternate placing their pieces on the board to try to surround their opponent. The one who "captures" the most amount of real estate wins. TV shows demonstrate strategy and feature games between highly ranked competitors- there's even an entire cable TV channel dedicated to it! You can also buy

(Spinning Tops) Children all over the world enjoy spinning tops, and Korea's kids are no exception. Traditionally, tops were spun in an enclosed box, with points scored for various actions. Also popular is fighting tops where players try to knock their opponents' tops out of a designated area.

Ssirum (Korean wrestling) Ssirum is somewhat similar to Japanese sumo wrestling, with two opponents trying to wrestle each other in a sandy ring. The one who throws his opponent to the ground wins a point. The annual competitions attract many spectators.

Yut (Four-Stick Game) A traditional Korean game, usually played on the first day of the Lunar New Year, involves 4 players or teams. Four sticks, flat on one side and curved on the other, are tossed in the air for each side's turn. The combination of flat and curved faces pointing upwards determines the number of spaces moved along a board (picture on the right). Landing on an intersection circle enables the side to take the shorter path. The first person/team to travel all the way around the board wins.

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