A photo of traditional
Korean wrestling
in Nampo, 1932

Following UNESCO's recognition of traditional Korean wrestling as 'intangible cultural heritage', we bring you a photo of traditional Korean wrestling in Nampo in 1932

UNESCO recognizes Korean traditional wrestling as intangible cultural heritage

On 27 November 2019 UNESCO announced it has accepted a joint-proposal from North and South Korea to have traditional Korean wrestling listed as ‘intangible cultural heritage’.

Traditional Korean wrestling—“Ssirum” in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and “Ssireum” in the Republic of Korea—has deep significance for all Koreans. Fundamentally linked to land and agriculture, it is both a national sport and a very popular cultural practice. Competitions are regularly organized during agricultural events or festivals linked to the cycle of the seasons.

You can read the proposals from both Koreas at UNESCO’s new page on Traditional Korean Wrestling.

A photo of traditional Korean Wrestling in Nampo, 1932

Today we bring you a photo from June 1932 wrestling match in Chinnampo, today’s Nampo in North Korea. The match, and other like it, took place in Pyong’an and Hwanghae Provinces as part of the All-Korea Wrestling Competition (전조선씨름대희 | 全朝鮮씨름大會) bringing together the best wrestlers from localities and schools from around the region.

In the photo below from the Donga Ilbo, there appear to be hundreds of white-clad spectators watching multiple wrestling matches in a rural setting.

Traditional Korean wrestling in Nampo, 1932

UNESCO has also posted videos produced from north and south about Korean wresting, which are worth checking out.

Ssirum (wrestling) in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Ssireum, traditional wrestling in the Republic of Korea

Photo courtesy of the Donga Ilbo Archives via the Naver News Library.

Updated 29 November 2018

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