Gijisi Tug-of-War Festival to be held from 11 to 14 April in Dangjin

Gijisi tug-of-war © Hosik Choi

The 2019 Gijisi Juldarigi (Tug-of-War) Festival will run from 11 to 14 April at the Gijisi Juldarigi Museum and in areas around Gijisi in Dangjin City, Chungcheongnam Province. This year’s festival also features a symposium on tug-of-war traditions of Korea and Vietnam and a presentation ceremony for Tugging Rituals and Games: A Common Element, Diverse Approaches, which was co-published by Dangjin City and ICHCAP.

The festival will include a demonstration of six Korean tug-of-war variations (each originating in Gijisi, Yeongsan, Samcheok, Miryang, Uiryeong, and Namhae) and Vietnamese tug-of-war games, which are among the tugging rituals and games inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as multi-national heritage of four Asian countries (the Republic of Korea, Cambodia, Philippines, and Vietnam). Also, there will be a performance to wish for peace and reunification of the Korean peninsula and send the  message of solidarity and prosperity embedded in tugging rituals and games. Various events will be held, including a ssireum (Korean folk wrestling) contest for students, an impromptu tug-of-war game for audiences, an archery contest, and a pungmul (Korean folk music) contest. The last day of the festival will present the main tug-of-war event, featuring traditional tugging rituals to be performed in the traditional order (a prayer ritual, fetching ropes, a binyeojang (a wooden beam connecting male and female ropes) performance, lashing two ropes together, arranging side-ropes) to mark the highlight of the festival.

Prior to the festival, Dangjin City made the ropes and held relevant rituals, such as yongwangje (dragon king ritual) and dangje (village god ritual), with the locals from 25 February to 31 March. A city official said, “The highlight of the folk festival of Gijisi Juldarigi is the tugging of the rope between two teams divided into upriver and downriver. It is traditionally believed that if the upriver team wins, it will bring well-being to the country, and if the downriver team wins, it will bring abundant harvests for the year, which means that people do not put emphasis on winning or losing.” “As the slogan of this year’s festival is ‘tug-of-war for the peace of the Korean people,’ Gijisi Juldarigi will continue to wish for peace on the peninsula until we can see the two Koreas pulling the ropes together,” the official added.

ICHCAP will also join accompanying festival events to showcase its publications, materials, and visual objects on tug-of-war.