How are Traditional Chusok Games in North Korea Different?

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How are Traditional Chusok Games in North Korea Different?

The 15th day of the eighth lunar month is Chusok, the Harvest Moon Festival when Koreans give thanks for the autumn harvest and reaffirm family and community ties.

Depending on the area, traditional games are played during the holiday. A lion dance is performed in the North-Western province, a tug-of-rope is held in the Kyongsang Province and a traditional dance called Kanggangsullae is danced in the Cholla Province. There is also Nolttwigi, Korean see-sawing, Yunnori, a game involving throwing sticks for points, and Kobuk-nori, where two men dress as tortoises and tour the village performing for food and drink.

The folk plays of Chusok are exhibited in "Kune (swing)" and "Ssirum (Korean wrestling)." While Kune is a rhythmical game for women, Ssirum, in which men test their strength and skill by toppling opponents, is the most typical folk play demonstrating masculinity. It is the most popular sport in Korea.

What do they play in North Korea?

Like in South Korea, the games commonly played during the holiday in North Korea are Ssirum, Kune, Nolttwigi, and Yunnori. Among these, unlike South Korea, Nolttwigi in the North is considered a competitive, intense game. People divide into two teams and vigorously compete. The team that jumps the most gracefully and the highest is the winner.

Kune and Yunnori are also very popular. Yunnori is as competitive as Nolttwigi in that people are separated into two teams and compete to win the game.

The main reason that emphasis is put on competition in North can be traced to the original purpose of the games--the unification of the workers in complete bondage under authority.

Chusok ceremonies that worship ancestors were not permitted until South and North Korea made an official announcement in 1971. Sollol, New Year's day and Tano,a festival celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar were revived in 1989.

by Kim Young Hoon

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