No Bull: Traditional Korean Bullfighting in Jinju

By Lindsay Nashbullfighting1
JINJU — It was one of the first warmer days of March–sunny, nearly 16 degrees Celsius, and just a lovely day to be outdoors.
So we headed to Jinju, home of traditional Korean bull fighting, a great fortress and some really good bibimbap (of the raw meat variety).

Before you start shouting ole put all images of matadors waving red flags to angry bulls out of your head. The Korean version of bull fighting is quite different.

The event is a straight contest between two bulls, who square up in front of each other like sumo wrestlers, putting their heads together and pushing until one tucks tail and runs. The one that doesn’t run is the winner.bullfighting2

It’s a relatively tame sport, though there were times with the bulls made it known that they actually didn’t feel like fighting.
After a few bellows, the bulls would sometimes be led back to their stables without a fight.

These contests have been held since the Silla dynasty (B.C. 57-A.D. 935) and have been linked to farming.

Trainers are largely farmers who raise the cattle — and the sport is supposed to have evolved as a way for farmers to pass the time during the quiet seasons.
While the sport sometimes felt forced, it was a great way for us to pass a quiet day in Korea.

While  you’re in Jinju, don’t forget to check out the famous Jinju fortress and the city’s famous raw beef bibimbap (there’s a great little restaurant located in the Jinju market).