Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Use a little muscle

A few weeks ago I visited the Cheongdo Bull Fighting Festival. It's nothing like Spanish bullfighting, and instead the bulls fight each other. Or sometimes they don't.

Korea really likes tourists. You'll see this if you arrive in Seoul, where the airport even has a culture museum and free arts and crafts for foreigners. I went to the festival with a few other foreigners, and we were greeted at the train station by people who handed us English brochures and told us how to get to the festival (a taxi is expensive--here, let me walk you two blocks to the bus station!)

The most inviting thing on the brochure was the "Magic Show of Levitation." So we saw that. The first part was this guy, who danced around regally while his mask changed colors and then disappeared. It's a difficult thing to capture in a picture.


Then some guys came out in bull suits to help with the levitation part. First, a little boy was levitated, but he started crying so they started over with another volunteer. The bulls removed the supports and look: there's nothing holding up the platform!


Also they had coconuts! Here is Pete using the official Coconut Skewer to make a straw hole. After drinking the juice, we broke them open on the concrete and ate with our hands.


And then my camera battery died... this is what happens when I start using my camera again suddenly. Shame on me.

Here's a good picture that I stole from the Internet:

So what happens is this: two bulls are led into a ring by handlers. The bulls are pulled together, face to face, by ropes through their nose rings. Like magnets, they suddenly lock horns and push each other back and forth until one of them turns around and jogs away. The other bull is the winner!

The bull fights were done by weight, so that the largest bulls fought last. For the last three fights though, the veteran bulls did not even fight. One bull would give up before they touched, and the other was declared the winner (to much booing.)

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