A Day In Persimmon-Fueled Korean Rodeos
After a full week of teaching it is extremely important to take a day or two to decompress. For me, there are really only two ways to fully decompress. 1)Watch a **** ton of crappy tv while eating candy/snacks, or 2) Go out and do something ridiculous/bizarre/adrenaline-fueled. Well, last week I did the former, so this weekend it was time to find something fun. Along with three friends, I headed out of Daejeon and into the semi-rural town of Cheongdo. What’s in Cheongdo you ask? Oh, not much, just a bull-fighting ring and an amazing winery.
The rain poured down as the wind tried to rip our umbrellas out of our hands. We quickly rushed into the stadium and found some seats to watch the first round. Bullfighting in Korea is not what you may think. When we hear “bullfighting” we think of the traditional Spanish and Latin versions in which an angry bull is pitted against a lithe, heavily-decorated matador in a fight that eventually leads in the death of one or the other. However, the Korean counterpart to the “bullfighting” namesake is more related to Japanese Sumo Wrestling than to Spanish Bullfighting. Two bulls of a given weight class enter into a circular ring, butting heads and crossing horns. The rule of victory is a simple one: the first bull to turn and run loses. For the bulls, the idea is to either push the other bull backwards or to throw its opponent to the ground through locking horns and twisting its head. Generally, the rounds go back and forth for about 10 minutes. The bulls butt heads several times either pushing back and forth or turning the other and hitting it in its rib cage. And what would watching an animal’s testosterone-raged battle be without a little gambling? The windows fill up between each fight with people throwing money down on which bull will prove dominance.
After the bullfights, we jumped on a bus and headed even further out into the countryside to a winery. Korea is currently in the middle of its Spring season, and because of this, the green hillsides are spotted with white and pink blossoming trees; an extremely beautiful sight in this part of the world. The winery itself was really unique. An old railway tunnel was emptied out after the track was abandoned and then repurposed into a wine cellar; quite a clever trick. The tunnel goes back about 300 ft before it becomes closed off. So, I’m sure by now the question has come up: “Wine? Korea? Is there even good wine in Korea?” Well, if you didn’t think it that’s ok, because it was running through my head for most of the day. The wine in Korea is actually made from persimmons. They also make both cheese and chocolate using persimmons. Wait, wine, chocolate, and cheese all from persimmon? Ya, they’ve got the traditional wine platter down pretty well. We all sat down and indulged for a bit on a very sweet wine before buying a couple bottles for the road and heading out. If bull fighting and wine doesn’t make your weekend wild yet strangely refined then I don’t know what does.
And here are some great photos from this week:
Yup, Peter Pasture was just an ordinary bull. He had been orphaned early in life and taken in by his uncle and aunt. One day, he was out in the field contemplating territorial guidelines in the modern world when a radioactive spider bit him. It was then that he discovered, even though he still had the strength of a bull, he now also had all of the characteristics of a spider. His uncle had once told him, “Peter, with great horns comes great responsibility,” and so, Peter knew he must use his powers for good. At first it was just saving bovines in distress from the meat grinder, but then came his arch nemesis, a Black Spider-Antelope full of rage named “Venison.” Bum Buhm BUHM!
Oh man, this is a tough one…which joke is better…alright 1) Nope, sorry, we don’t have buffalo wings here in Korea…oh wait, do you mean bull wings? 2) Little known fact: Red Bull (a now popular energy drink) gets its name from an ancient Korean legend, in which a giant flying bull named Icarus flew to close to the sun and cooked himself, feeding the people for 3 generations. Enjoy your energy drinks now that you know its history.
Korea has far surpassed us in many different aspects (as I have previously stated about cacti-legislation). As you can see here, they have also passed us in Gourmet-Tech. This small package, only as long as my thumb, is actually an oven. It may SEEM like it is simple plastic wrapping, but when you open it, your strawberry pie come out freshly baked. Now, this technology is known here by it’s street-name “Psychich Plastic Wrap.” Basically, this wrapping can see into the future and knows when you will eat it. It then prepares to bake itself an hour in advance of your opening the package so that it will be freshly baked 60% of the time, all the time.