Korean Ssirum Introduced to Japan

Ssirum (Korean wrestling), part of the superior national heritage created and developed by the Korean people from ancient times, is a traditional sporting event where two people who grasp each other’s thigh bands compete to bring down the opponents onto the ground using their hands, legs and bodies.

Korean ssirum, registered as part of the intangible heritage of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, has a long history and tradition.

Korean Ssirum is said to have made a start in Ancient Korea and have been perfected in Koguryo.

Although several nations and countries including Mongolia and Japan did have similar strength events called ssirum, Koguryo ssirum had some unique features ― wrestlers wearing heavy cloth bands around either thighs and no garments on their upper bodies competed in strength with their chins tucked on the opponents’ shoulders in bare feet; ssirum was well organized according to strict rules; wrestlers were trained to be professional.

Unlike Koguryo ssirum, however, Mongolian ssirum allowed wrestlers to wear shoes and upper garments similar to leather waistcoats.

Meanwhile, influenced by Korean ssirum, the Japanese did ssirum with thigh bands, bare upper body and bare feet. This explains Japanese ssirum originated from Korean ssirum.

This assertion is also supported by the figures discovered in Inbe Hachimanyama Tomb (around 6th century) situated on the basin of the Ginogawa River in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan.

Figure 10 of strong man erected in the east of the group of tombs bears a close resemblance to Koguryo ssirum wrestlers.

It proves that Japanese ssirum was not invented and developed in Japan itself, but introduced from Koguryo.

Such information is also found in “Japanese History” and other Japanese historical records.

In a word, Korean ssirum, which was developed in Ancient Korea and perfected in Koguryo, was disseminated through the neighbouring countries of the same blood Paekje, Silla and Kaya to the Japanese archipelago, exerting a significant influence upon the cultural development of the island country.

Indeed, the time-honoured and superior culture and tradition created by the Korean nation from olden times was introduced into other countries, thus leaving an indelible mark in their history of cultural development.