Sossaum

Headword

소싸움 ( Sossaum )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Arts

Writer BaeDosik(裵桃植)

A custom pitting bulls against each other after having been brought out from the grassy fields of the farming communities by neighborhood children. Today, it has evolved into an event where professional bull-fighters put bulls against each other in an arena in front of a large number of spectators.

It is unknown exactly when this practice began, since there are no remaining records on the origin of Sossaum. However, many estimate that bull fighting first began around 3, 000 years ago, around the time when humans began cultivating cattle.

In the past, children used to let their bulls graze in open fields, which naturally led to fighting among the bulls since they had to compete for food in crowded areas. This sparked the idea for children to bring their bulls and have them fight one another to pass the time.

The most powerful weapon for bulls is their horns. Well-fed but poorly trained ones often fail to serve as fighting bulls since they are too overweight for agile movement. Farmers raising fighting bulls provide the bulls with moderate training every day, which includes trail running or the hauling of heavy objects to bolster stamina, or the towing of old tires while gradually increasing the weight with stones and cement to help build up their strength.

Unlike plowing cows, fighting bulls are not fed plain fodder because they must be strong. Rather, farmers often give the bulls nutrient-rich feed while having them drink restorative herb medicine before the fight, and also providing a painkiller, or a headache reliever, to reduce the pain caused by being hit by another bull during the bout.

Weighing is the first step in Sossaum. Bulls are categorized into three weight classes: A rank, including bulls over 730 kg; B rank, including bulls weighing between 641 to 729 kg; C rank, including bulls weighing less than 640 kg. Only bulls belonging to the same weight class are allowed to fight each other. Whenever a match begins, the bulls typically initiate the match by glaring at each other in what is referred to as a nunssaum (a stare down), until the owners induce them to attack. Once the physical struggle begins, the owners also encourage their bulls by cheering alongside them.

In every match, there is a referee who initiates the fighting and decides the victor and loser of the match. These referees are called dogam, and they are fully entrusted to officiate the matches. There is no time limit to the bullfight. In general, twenty to thirty minutes is enough time to finish a single match, but some matches can take as long as an hour. If a bull tries to run away or falls down, he is declared the loser. After fully exhausting their physical strength during the match, some bulls lose the will to fight. They would search for a way out or drop their tails to a wagging motion. If a bull breathes heavily with its lower abdomen moving up and down, excretes feces, or foams at the mouth, this means that it is over–exhausted. Bulls reaching this state will typically end up running away.

Strength is the best attribute for fighting bulls. A bull with good skills is no match for a strong one that simply uses brute force. Of course, good skills in combination with strength, make for the best competitor.

In the past, owners might have taken bulls to open fields to spontaneously pit them against each other, however, as cattle began to be raised as livestock, spontaneous Sossaum began to grow less common. In the modern day, professional bull trainers present well-trained fighting bulls, elevating the excitement. The winner takes home a huge sum of money, eventually increasing the value of the bull.

Sossaum is a Korean custom with a long history. It used to provide local residents with catharsis, as well as a form of entertainment when there was not much to see or do for fun. The positive memories associated with the game motivate many Koreans to come out and see bulls gore each other even amid various forms of entertainment available these days. The most likely reason for its ongoing popularity lies in the fact that watching bulls, who are strong and huge yet pitifully tactless, fighting with their huge horns ignites a sense of delight and thrill within spectators. Witnessing a bull impressively defeat an opponent also gives people vicarious satisfaction as well.

Sossaum

Sossaum
Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Arts

Writer BaeDosik(裵桃植)

A custom pitting bulls against each other after having been brought out from the grassy fields of the farming communities by neighborhood children. Today, it has evolved into an event where professional bull-fighters put bulls against each other in an arena in front of a large number of spectators. It is unknown exactly when this practice began, since there are no remaining records on the origin of Sossaum. However, many estimate that bull fighting first began around 3, 000 years ago, around the time when humans began cultivating cattle. In the past, children used to let their bulls graze in open fields, which naturally led to fighting among the bulls since they had to compete for food in crowded areas. This sparked the idea for children to bring their bulls and have them fight one another to pass the time. The most powerful weapon for bulls is their horns. Well-fed but poorly trained ones often fail to serve as fighting bulls since they are too overweight for agile movement. Farmers raising fighting bulls provide the bulls with moderate training every day, which includes trail running or the hauling of heavy objects to bolster stamina, or the towing of old tires while gradually increasing the weight with stones and cement to help build up their strength. Unlike plowing cows, fighting bulls are not fed plain fodder because they must be strong. Rather, farmers often give the bulls nutrient-rich feed while having them drink restorative herb medicine before the fight, and also providing a painkiller, or a headache reliever, to reduce the pain caused by being hit by another bull during the bout. Weighing is the first step in Sossaum. Bulls are categorized into three weight classes: A rank, including bulls over 730 kg; B rank, including bulls weighing between 641 to 729 kg; C rank, including bulls weighing less than 640 kg. Only bulls belonging to the same weight class are allowed to fight each other. Whenever a match begins, the bulls typically initiate the match by glaring at each other in what is referred to as a nunssaum (a stare down), until the owners induce them to attack. Once the physical struggle begins, the owners also encourage their bulls by cheering alongside them. In every match, there is a referee who initiates the fighting and decides the victor and loser of the match. These referees are called dogam, and they are fully entrusted to officiate the matches. There is no time limit to the bullfight. In general, twenty to thirty minutes is enough time to finish a single match, but some matches can take as long as an hour. If a bull tries to run away or falls down, he is declared the loser. After fully exhausting their physical strength during the match, some bulls lose the will to fight. They would search for a way out or drop their tails to a wagging motion. If a bull breathes heavily with its lower abdomen moving up and down, excretes feces, or foams at the mouth, this means that it is over–exhausted. Bulls reaching this state will typically end up running away. Strength is the best attribute for fighting bulls. A bull with good skills is no match for a strong one that simply uses brute force. Of course, good skills in combination with strength, make for the best competitor. In the past, owners might have taken bulls to open fields to spontaneously pit them against each other, however, as cattle began to be raised as livestock, spontaneous Sossaum began to grow less common. In the modern day, professional bull trainers present well-trained fighting bulls, elevating the excitement. The winner takes home a huge sum of money, eventually increasing the value of the bull. Sossaum is a Korean custom with a long history. It used to provide local residents with catharsis, as well as a form of entertainment when there was not much to see or do for fun. The positive memories associated with the game motivate many Koreans to come out and see bulls gore each other even amid various forms of entertainment available these days. The most likely reason for its ongoing popularity lies in the fact that watching bulls, who are strong and huge yet pitifully tactless, fighting with their huge horns ignites a sense of delight and thrill within spectators. Witnessing a bull impressively defeat an opponent also gives people vicarious satisfaction as well.