Việt Nam, Korea enhance mutual understanding through tugging

Update: November, 23/2018 - 19:00
Sittign tug-of-war of Việt Nam is recognised by UNESCO as intangible heritage. — VNS Photo Công Thành Vũ
Viet Nam News

Minh Thu

HÀ NỘI — Though tug-of-war might be a simple game, it’s hard to deny how fun it is to play and watch, something that was on display on Friday in Hà Nội.

Muscular men from Việt Nam and South Korea performed their traditional tug-of-war games on Friday at Trấn Vũ Temple, Long Biên District.

While Vietnamese tug of war game uses a 50m-long rope made from rattan, the South Korea game uses a big rope made from straw. No matter what the rope is made from, the attraction from the game can’t be denied.

The Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in Asia-Pacific and the Việt Nam Centre for Research and Promotion of Cultural Value organised the event, aiming to strengthen the friendship between the two countries, according to PhD Lê Thị Minh Lý from the centre.

“Việt Nam and South Korea are two among four countries that have tug-of-war games and rituals recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,” said Lý.

A seminar was held with participants who are experts in the ritual practices of the two countries.

“It’s a chance for them to understand more about each other’s tug-of-war games, to clarify the similarities and differences between the games,” she said.

After the seminar, the Vietnamese and Korean performed their games to the joy of the audience.

The event was organised at Trấn Vũ Temple because it’s the place where sitting tug-of-war, the unusual game listed as a national intangible heritage and UNESCO heritage, is practised.

Park Weon-mo, from the Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in Asia-Pacific, said tug-of-war is popular worldwide, especially in the rice-farming cultures of Asia.

“The traditional tugging rituals and games are organised to pray for rain, abundant harvests and prosperity,” he said.

“In Korea, people believe that the winning team will receive good fortune. The game also strengthens solidarity and provides entertainment at festival occasions.”

“Basically, the game is a competition between two teams who try to pull a rope. However, depending on the different cultures and localities, the games have different identities and creations.”

Ngô Quang Khải, head of the Trấn Vũ temple’s management board, said the game is often held at the local festivals. But this is a special occasion for the local to enjoy Vietnamese and Korean tug-of-war at the same time.

“For us, it’s more than a game, but a ritual,” he said.

“Before the game, we always hold a ceremony at the temple to pray for good luck, bumper crops and favourable weather conditions. The organiser, referee and all members of the two teams attend the ceremony.

“It’s a serious ritual dedicated to the gods, in which the offerings and the steps of rituals and game are organised carefully.” — VNS

A ritual is performed before the game. — VNS Photo Công Thành Vũ