Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I've added video of the bull fight to the post below. I've also added a video to this post from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Sometime soon (when I figure out how to edit them down), I'll be adding a few more videos in the future. You can just click on the video label below (or right here) to find all posts with videos.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Bulls and the Blood

Late in the week, I found out that some people I knew were headed down to Cheongdo to see a Korean bull fighting tournament. Quickly surmising that I haven't been on an out-of-province trip in a long time, I decided to make the trek down. After an early morning subway ride into Seoul and a 4.5 hour train ride to Cheongdo, we made our way via taxi to the bull fighting arena.

The bull fights in Korea are not the same as the bull fights in Spain or Mexico. Rather there are two bulls actually fighting each other. Well, not really fighting. More like wrestling. Actually, more like pushing. According to what I've heard, the bull fights in Korea date back over 1000 years. At that time, bulls would naturally fight each other for the right to chew on the best grass. When one farmer began bragging about how pushy his bull was, another farmer soon challenged his claims. And thus bull fighting in Korea began. The pre-fight action consists of each bull handler leading his fighter into the arena and trying to get him to engage in a match. Once the bulls engage, the battle begins and there is a head-to-head pushing match. Every once in a while, one bull will make a move to overpower the other bull. It seems that when one bull is finally able to get the other bull to run away, he wins the match. There also seems to be some scoring system involved, but I never figured it out.

Here, you can see the owners / handlers guiding their bulls in battle. The handlers would make hoots and haws at the bulls, and give them the occasional crack of the whip.

But the best part was not really the bulls. In addition to the bull fights, they had a full county fair going on, Korean style. Food stands surrounded the arena, with pigs on spits, corn on the cob, and whale meat soup. Like I said, it was Korean style. Vendors were also selling jewelry, face paintings, persimmon wine, and a whole host of other goods. They had some side show entertainment as well, including acrobatic performers, and an all-transvestite band. Kids, much to their chagrin, were also getting their pictures taken atop bulls. On Sunday afternoon, the entertainment was to include bull riding by American service members in Korea. Unfortunately, it was just a one day affair for us. After the festivities were over for the day, we headed to Daegu, where we spent the night revisiting some of my old joints. We even made it to the bus HOF, a bar built into a bus, that I had always wanted to visit when I lived there. All in all, it was a long, but enjoyable weekend adventure. I'm hoping the weather is nice enough next weekend, so that I can bike to Suwon. They have an old castle there, and lots of cherry trees which are supposed to be blossoming soon.