North and South Korea are making a first joint bid for an international recognition of Korean traditional wrestling.
South Korean culture officials on Monday said a UNESCO committee is set to determine whether to add the Korean wrestling to its list of “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” this week.
The Koreas had earlier pushed separate bids for the sport’s UNESCO recognition, but the cooperation follows an easing of tension on the divided peninsula amid a flurry of exchanges this year. Local media reports said South Korea had first proposed the joint bid during a leaders’ summit at the Korean border village in April.
The Koreas were originally a single country before their separation in 1945. Split along the world’s most heavily fortified border, the countries now have linguistic, cultural and other gaps.
They use different English Romanization rules. The wrestling’s English spelling is “ssirum” in North Korea and “ssireum” in South Korea. According to South Korea’s Cultural Heritage Administration, the Koreas use both spellings for their combined bid.
North Korea has won UNESCO recognitions of two Korean cultural assets — the Korean folk tune “Airrang” and the making of Kimchi. The two are among the 19 items that South Korea has received UNESCO recognition for, according to South Korean officials.
In the Korean wrestling, participants with a belt around their waists and thighs use their hands, legs and other body parts to bring down their opponents to the sand ground. In South Korea, it gained wide popularity the 1980s, threatening the long-running popularity of baseball and soccer.unb