This weekend I discovered that Korea has its own unique style of bullfighting. However, it's much different than the Spanish variety that everyone imagines when they think of bullfighting. While the Spanish type is a grand symbol for man's murderous domination over beast, the Korean style pits two bulls against each other in a bloodless push-fest designed to make you want to place bets and chain smoke like a 60-year-old Korean man.
Despite the fact that it is still people forcing animals to fight, I was surprised how "humane" it seemed. I was struck by the rapport the handlers seemed to have with the bulls, their lack of stereotypical "bull rage" despite people wearing red, and the presence of children all over the place. I even heard it described as "more natural" since bulls will fight in this way anyway during mating season.
According to an amusingly translated pamphlet I got at the venue, there are quite a few techniques that the bulls will use against each other in order to intimidate their opponent. I quote: "This will turn out to be more interesting than it seemed. The techniques of bullfighting are horn locking, repetitive attacking, uplifting, head-butting, pushing, side attacking, neck attacking, and horn-butting." People simply bet on a bull marked with a blue or red circle, and the first one to become dispirited and run away is the loser. There is no stabbing, no killing, no post fight bull testicle eating. I left with a sense of awe over how powerful and intelligent these animals seemed, and how bad a headache they probably had afterwards.