My first bull fight was in Spain back in the 1970’s. Yes, I have been traveling for that long! The blood and gore didn’t do it for me, and I vowed never again. Well, never is a long time. This past weekend saw me traveling to the Korean town of Cheongdo, where, for the past ten years the town has hosted an annual bull fighting festival.
With a bit of research I discovered that bull fighting in Korea dates back 1000 years, and there is no blood involved. The bulls fight each other locking horns and butting heads. The first one to walk (or run) away is the winner. Each bull has a handler who goads his bull on when he gets slow or decides he doesn’t want to play anymore. To be honest, a Korean bull fight can be a little bit like paint drying. However, what makes it exciting for me is the anticipation of when something is going to happen. The crowd’s reaction is worth the wait. Korean’s like their bull fighting and they react enthusiastically when the bulls get riled. Of course, there are also good photos to be had.
During the intermissions there were Korean traditional dance performances. The weird thing was these were on a stage suspended in the air behind the bull ring. This made it extremely difficult to get a good view of the performers. Outside on the main stage festival goers were treated to Korean “cross-dressers” dancing, singing, and playing traditional instruments. Cross-dressers have become popular at festivals recently. Why? I have no idea! There were lots of food stalls to enjoy. Locally grown persimmons were for sale everywhere. The most popular form is dried. They are good, but very sweet. I tried deep fried ginseng, which was awesome. I’ll be blogging about that tomorrow.
The Cheongdo Bull Fighting Festival is held annually in March. Mark it on your calendar for next year.
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