Cheongdo: Bullfighting, a Wine and a Temple

Written by on April 24, 2013 in Travel
 Entrance to the Cheongdo Bullfighting Stadium

Entrance to the Cheongdo Bullfighting Stadium

This past weekend, the city of Cheongdo (청도) held its annual bullfighting festival (소싸움 축제). While even now I’m not sure how I feel about having bulls fight each other, it is an interesting tradition. The first thing on everyone’s mind when I told them I was going to see a bull fight was, “Oh no! I would hate to see a bull killed like that!”, thinking of Spanish bullfighting. However, Korean bullfighting is quite different. In fact, here in Cheongdo, it’s not people that fight the bulls, but another bull.

Two bulls in the ring

Two bulls in the ring

Bulls square off in the ring, and, through a series of head butts, force one of the bulls to stand down. Throughout the fight, the bull owners coach their bulls by shouting commands. A fight typically lasts between two and ten minutes. Once it’s over, the bulls are lead out of the ring again. No bulls are killed in the process, and I’ve heard that serious injury to the bulls is rare.

Two bulls, mid-fight

Two bulls, mid-fight

Finally, one bull backs down and runs away, the one who stays is the winner!

Finally, one bull backs down and runs away, the one who stays is the winner!

However, just like any festival in Korea, there’s always a lot more to do and see than just the main event. Photo ops, traditional Korean games, performers and local products for sale were abound.

 Me with Bunga the Bull

Me with Bunga the Bull

 Trick Art!

Trick Art!

Me trying Gulleongsoe

Me trying Gulleongsoe (굴렁쇠)

Cute bull mascots

Cute bull mascots

Bull art

Bull art

Acrobat performance

Acrobat performance

Cheongdo Bullfighting Theme Park

Cheongdo Bullfighting Theme Park

Once we had seen everything in the festival, we headed next door to check out the Cheongdo Bullfighting Theme Park (which was really a museum). The museum showed the history of bullfighting in both Korea and abroad, plus featured various games and art centered around bulls.

 Me pulling a fake bull

Me pulling a fake bull

This entertained us for several hours, but we wanted to see what else the Cheongdo area had to offer. So, we headed down to the ‘Wine Tunnel’ (와인터널).

Wine tunnel entrance

Wine tunnel entrance

This tunnel, originally made for trains in 1904, was converted into a winery in 2006. The year-round cool and humid conditions make it the perfect spot for wine making. However, since the local specialty of Cheongdo is not grapes, but persimmons (감), it is only fitting that this winery produce persimmon wine (감와인).

Enjoying a glass of wine in the tunnel

Enjoying a glass of wine in the tunnel

While I’m not personally a big fan of persimmons, I had to give this wine a try while I was here and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s got a great flavor. Slightly sweet, and only a hint of the strong persimmon flavor. You can drink wine here (just 3,000 won/ glass of regular wine), or you can buy a bottle to bring home as a souvenir. Prices start at 18,000/ bottle and go up from there depending on the style or set you purchase.

Glass of 'regular' persimmon wine

Glass of ‘regular’ persimmon wine

Evening was approaching, but we couldn’t resist the temptation of making one last stop before heading home to Seoul. Just behind the wine tunnel, we saw a sign for a small temple called Daejeoksa Geungnakjeon (대적사 극락전) located just 100m away. We went up to take a peek.

Entry gate of Daejeok Temple

Entry gate of Daejeok Temple

While it’s certainly one of the smaller temples I’ve ever visited, it is definitely worth a quick visit. Brightly painted doors welcome visitors to this temple. While it was the home of a very large temple during the Silla Dynasty, all but disappeared until the middle of the Joseon Dynasty when it became a hermitage.

Geungnakjeon (극락전)

Geungnakjeon (극락전)

To go to Cheongdo, take the train from Seoul Station (서울역). Direct mugunghwa trains (무궁화호) take about 4 hours and 15 minutes, and cost 22,300 won each way. For a faster, but pricier ride, take the KTX to DongDaegu (동대구역) and transfer to the mugunghwa train.

From Cheongdo Station to the Bullfighting Stadium, exit the station, cross the street and turn left. There is a local bus terminal about 100m on the right. Find a city bus going to Punggak (풍각면). Get off at the Chilseong (칠성) 3-way Junction (삼거리, Samgeori) Bus Stop, or find a direct bus to the bullfighting ring (소싸움장). Purchase bus tickets in the terminal before boarding the bus.
From Cheongdo Station to the Wine Tunnel, take a bus from the local bus terminal, or take a taxi (about $13,000 won). Taxi from the Bullfighting stadium is about $9,000 won.

Comments

About the Author

Jo-Anna Lynch is an English teacher and writer who can usually be found in Seoul. She sees her life as one giant cross-cultural experience. She is always operating in at least two languages, eating international cuisine, and trying her best to figure out local customs and language. She writes about her cross-cultural adventures at her blog, The View From Over Here, often writes for local publications in Seoul and has been a blogger for the Korea Blog since its inception.