The Dangjin City, one and half hour’s run from Seoul, hosts the world’s largest tug-of-war festival for four days on April 11-14, 2014 with the participation of a total of over 300,000 visitors from all parts of the Republic of Korea and various foreign countries.
Origin of the Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Culture Festival dates back to 500 years ago. Dangjin region at the time was plagued with enormous coastal natural calamities and serious diseases, which took away many human lives and caused immeasurable property damages and losses.
To overcome and recover from these unfortunate occurrences, the villagers needed concerted efforts and close cooperation and coordination among themselves. They discovered an answer. They decided to develop a game which was participated in by hundreds of thousands of people from various villagers in and around Dangjin.
The tug-of-war game achieved a great success and brought the people into complete unity and harmony and helped them overcome the bad effect of the natural calamities and diseases.
From then on, the Dangjin people have further developed the Festival adding to it a number of other events which included offering of prayers for a bumper crop, good luck, good health and longevity.
The straw ropes used in the Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War has a total weight of 40 tons and a length of over 200 meters.
The winning team is decided after the contestants have had three games. The team winning twice is the winner.
The Dangjin Tug-of-War Festival is believed to bring a bumper crop, a good luck, good health and longevity not only to the people of Dangjin directly involved in the Game but also for all the people of Korea and all the other peoples from around the world, including the visting ambassadors and their spouses on April 11.
On the starting day on April 11, the people of Dangjin and 300,000 visitors from across the country and various parts of the world will take part in an ancestral worship rite, Sea Dragon Rite, Mayor’s Prayer Meeting, Junior Tug-of-War Match, traditional Korean Ssireum wrestling matches and Soddae competition among different townships, towns and villages of the Dangjin City.
On the second day on April 12, there is scheduled to be a national competition of farmers’ bands, Ssireum Korean wrestling matches and a peace-promoting tug-of-war competition between teams formed with people from the 31 villages of the Songak Township.
On April 13 a total of 40 different teams of over 600 professional tug-of-war champions will take part in the matches.
There will also be contestants from Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines who shared the tradition of tug-of-war with Korea.
There will also be discussions on ways to have the Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War registered with the UNESCO as world’s important cultural heritage.
Dangjin City has now begun making an all-out effort to have the Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War registered with the UNESCO as the Important Cultural Heritage of the World.
On April 11, 2014, ambassadors and their spouses will visit the Sacred Land of St. Kim Dae-geon on the way to Danjin, which will be visited by the Pope in Auust this year.
The visiting envoys then will witness and take part in some of the major events of the Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War Culture Festival. At the same time, the visiting diplomats will be invited to have a tour of various production facilities of the Hyundai Steel in Dangjin where there also are a number of other major steel plants such as Donguk and Dongbu.
A welcome ceremony will be held for the visiting diplomats at the plush Guest House of the Hyundai Steel, which will be followed by a Korean-international cuisine buffet luncheon jointly hosted by Mayor Lee and the vice chairman & CEO of Hyundai.
After the luncheon, the ambassadors and spouses will visit Korea’s only Tug-of-War Museum in the Dangjin City where they will change into traditional Korean costumes of provincial governors, generals and scholars and join the musical performances at the venue of the Dangjin Gijisi Tug-of-War. The citizens of the Dangjin will be very happy for the rare opportunity to be joined by the foreign dignitaries in their performance.
The diplomats and madams then will try their strength pulling the ropes on one side of the Tug-of-War with the Dangjin citizens on the other side. The match will be for three times and if one side wins two games consecutively it is the winner team.
Following the participation in the Tug-of-War, the diplomats will tour various production facilities of the Hyundai Steel.
After a briefing on the plant by the CEO of the Hyundai Steel over a cup of coffee/tea and snacks, the diplomats will be invited to see a large-scale rolling mill where a big, long and thick slabs of red-hot iron will be rolled back and forth over many large rollers. The visitors will feel the heat even from an elevated steel bridge that was dozens of meters away.
Then they will visit a large iron material storage dome where the raw materials imported from various countries of the world, including Australia and Canada, are brought in and out through automatically moving equipment and devices.