Tradition of the Yeongsan Chuldarigi Continues in Today's May Festival
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Tradition of the Yeongsan Chuldarigi Continues in Today's May Festival
  • 김태연 기자
  • 승인 2005.05.04 00:00
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   Every year, the finale of the May Festival is the Yeongsan Chuldarigi, a traditional Korean tug-of-war game. It is organized by the Student Government Association (SGA) and always takes place in the University Stadium as part of the closing ceremony.
The SGA first introduced the game to Ewha in 1983 and it has continued until today. Yeongsan Chuldarigi was originally a farmers ritual symbolizing the unity of men and women and was performed to bring good fortune. At Ewha, it signified four ideas: 1. harmony and unification, especially of the two Koreas; 2. the united voices of students for democracy and the overthrow of dictatorship; 3. the act of students fighting for gender equality; and 4. wishes for a prosperous year.
   Kim Jong-gon, Ewha's Yeongsan Chuldarigi craftsman, explained the symbolism of the game in relation to Korean unification. "The rope used in the game is composed of two strands that make up one big rope. The connection of the two strands represents the bond between two countries although they are separated," said Kim.
   According to the SGA, the game also expressed the voices of students striving for democracy and the overthrow of dictatorship during the 1980s. In 1983, during former president Chun Doo-hwan's dictatorship in Korea, Ewhaians craved freedom of speech and freedom of education. "This was another form of demonstration against the government for freedom and democracy. We expressed our emotions through this game since there was no other place where we were allowed to do so," wrote one former member of the SGA in the SGA's annals.
   The Yeongsan Chuldarigi also shows how Ewha students demanded gender equality. Another craftsman stated, "Although it is a hard and tough activity, the students have not given up, showing how female students can manage as hard jobs as male students. This game has always been a source of pride for Ewha students. The process of making and carrying the rope is a difficult job for women to perform since the rope is very heavy and big. Despite this fact, Ewha was the first women's university to organize this game and has never missed a year since 1983."
   Finally, the Yeongsan Chuldarigi expressed the wishes of Ewhaians. The school wished for the success, luck, prosperity, and health of its graduates, students, and employees. The students personally wished for high grades, health, and luck. These wishes are portrayed in a speech read out by the 28th SGA president in the closing ceremony: "As we wish in one voice, bless Ewha and watch over our path."
   Before the Yeongsan Chuldarigi was introduced, the May Festival featured events that were from foreign cultures and ideas. The SGA officials are proud to note that the Yeongsan Chuldarigi, however, was an introduction of Korean culture.
  However, despite its meaning, many students have argued that this game should stop due to its high cost (four to six million won) and long preparation time (around 30 days).
   Nevertheless, according to the SGA, Yeongsan Chuldarigi is important as a symbol of unity, harmony, and democracy. The SGA's president says, "Most students we surveyed wish to keep the tradition; therefore, since students want it, we believe it should be kept and continued."

▲ A rare occasion, students unite at one place, one time, doing one activity.


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