Cheongdo Bullfighting Festival

Cheongdo in Gyeongbuk-Do has been having a bullfighting festival for years, but I never seem to hear about it in advance. As you may recall, I was not overly impressed with Spanish bullfighting. In fact, I thought it was a showier version of cockfighting. However, Korean bullfighting is quite a bit different.

First, there are no matadors. There are three men in the ring, one per bull and a ref-type of guy wearing red and blue, to represent both sides. Second, there is no bloodshed. The bulls basically push and shove each other until one runs away, at which point the two wranglers grab them and take them out separate sides of the ring.

Cheongdo bullfights are all bull, no matador. As it should be.

Given these differences, it was far more enjoyable than the Spanish bullfighting, but I doubt I will go again. Each of the matches seemed very much like the others. Between one of the matches, there was a Samba performance, danced to the traditional Brazilo-Korean sounds of K-Pop.

Of course, a traditional Korean bullfight wouldn't be complete without a samba.

As far as I could tell, the actual purpose of the breaks between matches was to give gamblers time to place their bets. Below the ring was quite an extensive betting set up with about 50 windows. I only saw one open, mind, quite possibly since the odds were between 1 and 1.5 for any given bull. Craig placed two winning bets and won enough to pay the cab fare back to the train station. Not surprisingly, there is no offsite betting on the bulls.

To make sure there was no funny business, what with those lucrative odds, there were five officials watching from lifeguard chairs around the ring.

The refs. Their green jackets say Golf Announcer, but their cowboy hats say Rodeo.

After about four matches, we had had our fill, so we headed back to the train station and caught the Mugunghwa to Daegu. From there, we took a bus to Haeinsa for a day of hiking, if the rain would ever let up.

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