Both North and South Korea have won a joint bid to recognize ancient wrestling as a cultural gem. Peace builders Unesco (The United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization) has accepted a joint bid from the Koreas and has granted them “world cultural status” to Korean wrestling.
Both countries filed separately, but decided to come together and apply jointly after mediation with Unesco. This move was referred to as “unprecedented” by the UN cultural agency’s head.
So, what exactly is Korean wrestling? It’s an ancient sport more commonly known as Ssirum in North Korea and Ssireum in South Korea.
To win, you must make any part of your opponent’s body above the knee make contact with the ground. The wrestlers face in each in a pit on their knees. Both hold a sash (a staba) that’s tied around their opponent’s waist and thigh. Then, they rise to their feet and try to bring their opponent to the floor, while holding the satba.
Unesco’s head Audrey Azoulay remarked in a press release that “the joint bid marks a highly symbolic step on the road to inter-Korean reconciliation.”
The successful bid shows how the two countries have come together and are co-operating. North and South Korea have made several attempts over the last few years to become more amicable.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in was elected in 2017, and he’s acted as a mediator between North Korea and the US and President Trump. Ms Azoulay met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss ways Unesco could help with reconciliation. At the beginning of the year, the Winter Olympics took place in Pyeongchang, South Korea and both Koreas marched under a united flag. Unesco officials recently met in Mauritius and approved the inclusion of Korean Wrestling and made it part of their Intangible Cultural Heritage List. The decision is more symbolic than anything, but it could give the sport a whole new status around the world.
Either way, relations between the two countries seem to be cooling, and that’s a good thing.
This article originally appeared on the BBC News website at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-46341279