Racecourses: 3(Seoul, Busan-Gyeongnam, Jeju)
Racing Days of Week: Friday (Busan-Gyeongnam, Jeju) / Saturday (Seoul, Jeju) / Sunday (Seoul, Busan-Gyeongnam)
Race Meetings: Seoul 94 / Busan-Gyeongnam 94 / Jeju 93
Races: Seoul 1,064 / Busan-Gyeongnam 746 / Jeju 852
Runners: Seoul 12,480 / Busan-Gyeongnam 8,205 / Jeju 7,915
Prize Money (M₩): Seoul 102,490 / Busan-Gyeongnam 57,437 / Jeju 18,651
Owners: Seoul 515 / Busan-Gyeongnam 322 / Jeju 170
Trainers: Seoul 54 / Busan-Gyeongnam 32 / Jeju 20
Jockeys: Seoul 61 / Busan-Gyeongnam 40 / Jeju 36
Stable hands: Seoul 455 / Busan-Gyeongnam 227 / Jeju 96
Breeding Farms: 211
Betting Turnover (M₩) : 7,786,239
OCB Outlets: 30
Korea Racing Authority
Korea Racing Authority (KRA) is the sole racing authority in Korea by KRA Law, and is under the supervision of the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. KRA aims to contribute to the national finances through horse racing, and to promote support projects for fishing and agrarian villages as well as various social activities, with its earnings. Recently, KRA initiated its support of equestrian events as part of its efforts to expand the businesses in Korean horse industry, which had been focused on horse racing.
KRA is committed to helping people make good use of their leisure time and to developing Korean horse industry so as to enhance the dignity of Korean horse culture.
- To upgrade Korean horse industry
- To strengthen social responsibility
- To reinforce the foundations for sustainable growth
- To establish advanced corporate cultures
- Operating horse racing
- Promoting improvement and multiplication, development, popularization, utilization, and training of horses, popularizing equitation, and performing businesses to promote horse industry
- Establishing and operating simple sports and recreational facilities in the racecourses
- Conducting businesses similar to horse racing, such as livestock racing
- Providing scholarships to the children of fishermen and farmers, and carrying out projects to improve the welfare of fishing and agrarian villages, and of the neighboring areas of the racecourses and off-course betting outlets
- Conducting local and overseas businesses, including services using professional skills related to the operation of horse racing
- Investing in corporations dealing with horse racing operations and related businesses, and providing them with support
Stud Farms: 3
OCB outlets: 30
Profit Structure of Earnings from Horse Racing
- 73% of the gross turnover is returned to the customers as dividends
- Remaining 27% consists of:
- Taxes(16%), including the leisure tax(10%), local education tax(4%), and special tax for rural development(2%), paid to the central and local governments
- General horse racing operational expenses(7%)
- Reserve fund for specific purposes and for investments in the horse industry(4%)
History of Korean Horse Racing
|1890s||Horse racing in Korea traces back to May 1898, when a foreign-language institute run by the government held a donkey race on its sports day.|
|1910s||In April 1914, the first race meeting in the country that was open to the public was held. The races, however, were for entertainment purposes only. No betting was conducted.|
|1920s||It was in the 1920s that “modern horse racing“, involving a betting system, made its debut. In 1922, Joseon Racing Club, the nation's first-ever authorized horse racing club, was established to make horse racing more systematic and better organized.|
|In 1923, the pari-mutuel betting system was officially adopted for the first time in Korea.|
|The Sinseol-dong racecourse opened in 1928, and the incorporated racing clubs were allowed to have their own racecourses.|
|1930s||Finally, in 1933, a decree on horse racing was promulgated. Under the decree, only incorporated racing clubs were allowed to conduct horse racing. Joseon Horse Racing Association (non-governmental) was also established in 1933 to coordinate and control the incorporated racing clubs across the nation and to ensure consistency in their administration.|
|1940s||The governmental regulatory body, Joseon Racing Association was established in 1942.|
|Later, in 1949, Joseon Racing Association was renamed "Korea Racing Association (KRA)", and efforts were made to restore the national identity in relation to horse racing.|
|1950s||The Korean War, however, which broke out in 1950, resulted in great turmoil for the Korean society, thus undermining the development of horse racing. Worse yet, during the three-year war, racecourses were used for military training and horse racing came to an abrupt halt.|
|To keep the tradition of horse racing alive, KRA worked out a plan to reestablish the racecourse at Ttukseom in Seoul. The construction, which began during the war, was completed in May 1954. Thanks to KRA's dedication, horse racing resumed in South Korea, and the newly constructed Ttukseom racecourse served as the hub of Korean horse racing until it was relocated to the modern racecourse in Gwacheon in 1989.|
|1960s||The enactment of the Korea Racing Association Law in 1962 provided a legal basis to Korean horse racing.|
|1980s||Pari-mutuel bets were tallied manually until 1984. The inefficient management of the pari-mutuel betting system was a major stumbling block to broadening the fan base of Korean horse racing.|
|To overcome this fundamental obstacle, a computerized pari-mutuel betting system was established in 1984, and at the same time, horse racing came to be televised in color, both on and off-course. These two measures played a decisive role in boosting the attendance and turnover. For instance, in 1984, the turnover and attendance increased to 67% and 58%, respectively, from the previous year.|
|To form a link in the chain of the program so as to make the most of the Olympic facilities, the government designated KRA as the organization that was exclusively responsible for constructing the Olympic Equestrian Park. Accordingly, KRA secured 280 acres of land in the Gwacheon area, the southern outskirts of Seoul, and began the construction of the park in 1984.|
|After the Olympics, the Olympic Equestrian Park was converted into a racing facility named "Seoul Racecourse," and the first race in such facility was held on September 1, 1989. With the opening of the Seoul Racecourse, the 36-year-long era of the Ttukseom Racecourse came to an end, and the nation's horse racing continued to make great strides.|
|1990s||As part of the efforts to preserve the ponies native to Jeju Island, which has been designated as Natural Monument No. 347, KRA began the construction of the 180-acre Jeju Racecourse at the foot of Mt. Halla in October 1987. Three years later, in October 1990, the racecourse opened for pony racing.|
|KRA opened Jeju Stud Farm & Training Center in September 1995, and completed the first systematic breeding and training equipment in South Korea.|
|2000s||In June 2004, the International Cataloguing Standards Committee designated South Korea as one of the Part III countries, and decided to add seven Korean Grade Races to the Blue Book list, starting from 2005.|
|Korea held the 30th Asian Racing Conference in May 2005.|
|In an effort to raise the country's racing quality and to promote horse racing nationwide, KRA started the construction of a new thoroughbred racecourse in Busan, the second largest city in South Korea. The grand opening of the racecourse was in April 2005|
|To clear the roles in horse racing, KRA changed its name from Korea Racing Association to Korea Racing Authority. Jangsu Stud Farm & Training Center opened in 2007. The Horse Industry Promotion Act was enacted in 2011.|
There are two kinds of horse racing in Korea: thoroughbred flat races at the Seoul, Busan-Gyeongnam Race Park, and Korean native-pony flat races at the Jeju Race Park.
Races take place weekly on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with some exceptions for national holidays. There are 12-16 races on a race day, with an interval of 25-60 minutes between them. In mid-July to mid-August, when the temperature is very high, races take place at night to protect the horses from the heat and to provide a more comfortable environment for the racing fans.
The basic structure of Korean thoroughbred racing consists of a binary system of domestic and foreign-bred horses. Taking other conditions into account, such as prize money earnings and age, the races are further divided.
In 2004, KRA introduced its own grade system for thoroughbred racing. The Grade Races have been included and listed in PART Ⅲ of the International Cataloguing Standards Committee (ICSC)'s Blue Book since 2005. This year, there were 13 Grade Races(eight in Seoul, five in Busan-Gyeongnam).
To encourage competition, induce the active participation of good racehorses, and raise the quality of racehorses, KRA has been steadily increasing the prize money.
Outline of the KRA Racing System
Seoul Race Park
Gross area: 1,149,936㎡ (284 acres)
Grandstand capacity: 2 buildings, 77,000 persons
Ticketing offices: offices
Saddling area: 1 building, 24 stalls
Stable area: 60 buildings, 1,442 stalls
Racetrack (left-handed): Outer track - 1,800m(L); 25m(W)
Inner track - 1,600m (L); 25m (W)
Homestretch - 450m (L); 30m (W)
Busan-Gyeongnam Race Park
Gross area: 1,243,103㎡ (307 acres)
Grandstand capacity: 1 building, 30,000 persons
Ticketing offices: offices
Saddling area: 1 building, 30 stalls
Stable area: 42 buildings, 1,008 stalls
Racetrack (left-handed) : Outer track - 2,000m (L); 25m (W)
Inner track - 1,470m (L); 25m (W)
Homestretch - 500m (L); 25m (W)
Training track - 1,300m (L); 20m (W)
Jeju Race Park
Gross area: 726,577㎡ (180 acres)
Grandstand capacity: 2 buildings, 6,393 persons
Ticketing offices: offices
Saddling area: 2 buildings, 22 stalls
Stable area: 7 buildings, 550 stalls
Racetrack (right-handed): 1,600m (L); 25m (W)
KRA holds exclusive rights over the racing operations and on- and off-course wagering within Korea. This means that all activities of bookmakers or private betting operators are prohibited by the law, and only the betting tickets issued by KRA are legitimate. KRA adopted a pari-mutuel system and has been using it since the beginning of its operations in 1923.
KRA provides six betting types win, place, quinella, exacta, quinella place, and trio. The minimum bet allowed is 100 Korean won, and the maximum per single bet is 100,000 Korean won. Betting tickets are distributed through the on- and off-course betting terminals, and through account betting. These terminals are controlled by Pari-Mutuel Betting Control Center at Seoul Race Park.
|RETURN TO KRA||4%||4%||11%||11%||11%||11%|
KRA Plazas are off-course betting outlets. There are 30 KRA Plazas in the country, most of which are concentrated in the Seoul metropolitan area. About 70% of the aggregate race day attendance is situated at the KRA Plazas. KRA Plazas are open to the local communities even on non-race days, for leisure and cultural activities.
Breeding, Training, and Sales
The Thoroughbred Breeding Program led by KRA was initiated about 30 years ago, and has been promoted in full scale since 1991 for the breeding of Korean thoroughbreds. Significant development has been made particularly in the past ten years, and at present, Korean-bred horses represent approximately 80% of the racehorses in Korea.
The start of the 21st century saw KRA importing high-quality stallions, improving the training facilities in the country, and putting spurs to implement better educational practices so as to produce strong, fast, and world-class Korean-bred horses.
Korean-bred horses are now striving for competitiveness at the international level, and it is hoped that in the near future, they will be competing in international races.
Due mainly to its location, Jeju Island is the largest breeding region in Korea, with the other main regions situated on the mainland: Gyeonggi-do, Jeollabuk-do, and Gangwon-do. To date, there are 205 breeding farms in the country, with 155 farms(75%) located in Jeju Island.
To date, there are 109 stallions in Korea. Of these, 80(73%) are in Jeju Island, and 15 are owned by KRA. The KRA-owned stallions cover broodmares free of charge. From 2004, to enhance the quality of the domestic-bred horses, KRA began importing high-quality-proven stallions from overseas.
COMMENDABLE(`97, USA, G1W)
- `00 Belmont S.[G1] Win
MENIFEE(`96, USA, G1MW,)
- `99 Toyota Blue Grass S.[G1] Win, `99 Haskell Invitation H.[G1] Win
- `99 Kentucky Derby[G1] 2nd, `99 Preakness S.[G1] 2nd
- `08 North America Leading Sire 42nd, `09 59th
- `10 Korea Leading Sire(2YO)
VOLPONI(`98, USA, G1W)
- `02 Breeders' Cup Classic[G1] Win
HAWK WING(`99, USA, G1MW in GB/IRE)
- `01 Aga Khan Studs National S.[G1] Win
- `02 Coral Eurobet Eclips S.[G1] Win
- `03 Juddmonte Lockinge S.[G1] Win
OFFICER(`99, USA, G1W)
- `01 Champagne S.[G1] Win
- `06 North America Leading Sire(2YO) 7th, `10 10th
PICO CENTRAL(`99, BRZ, G1MW in USA/BRZ)
- G1 5 Wins
- `03 Brazil Champion Sprinter, `04 Brazil Horse of the Year
ONE COOL CAT(`01, USA, G1MW in IRE)
- `03 Europe 2YO Champion Colt
- `09 Europe Leading Sire(2YO) 8th
- `10 Europe Leading Sire 31th
Besides, KRA owns a number of winning horses in Multiple Grade Races, including VICAR(USA), FOREST CAMP(USA), PEACE RULES(USA), and EXPLOIT(USA).
In 1993, there were 245 mares in Korea, but to date, that number has grown to 2,339. The Korean-breds total 532(23%) with 1,807 foreign-bred broodmares, of which 996 are mares retired from racing in Korea. Since 2000, 100-250 broodmares have been imported from the USA, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, etc.
In the past, more importance was placed on the breeding of horses than on their training. Breaking in and training have received more attention of late, however, with better-educated horses being produced.
Partial systematic breaking in and training started with the opening of KRA Jeju Stud Farm & Training Center in 1995. After 2000, private training farms started to appear, followed by the opening in 2007 of KRA Jangsu Stud Farm & Training Center. Both stud farms and training centers are first-class, and their opening heralded a new era in the improvement of the quality of race horses in Korea.
Private trading between purchasers and sellers is the most common horse sales practice in Korea. Auctions for thoroughbred horses commenced in 1998, and to date, there are five two-year-old sales(including two breeze-up sales), and two yearling and two/three-year-old sales held annually. A total of 556 horses have been offered and 252 horses sold so far this year(2011).
Jeju Stud Farm & Training Center
Gross area: 2,151,000㎡ (532 acres)
Stable area: 14 buildings, 500 stalls
Training facilities: Outdoor training track (1,000m (L); 15m (W)), indoor circular track (300m (L); 6m (W)), five lunging pens, indoor riding ground (40mx72m), nine European exercisers, horse swimming pool (50m(L)), two outdoor riding grounds (5,616㎡)
KRA opened Jeju Stud Farm & Training Center in September 1995 to improve the breeding and training skills in Korea. Equipped with advanced facilities, the farm is situated on about 530 acres of land divided into two separate areas: a section for rearing and training, and a section for accommodating stud operations. KRA also established the Racehorse Breeding Technology Academy in the training section of the stud farm in 2009, which aims to train experts for the horse industry, and to provide technical education to private stable workers and owners. Jeju Stud Farm & Training Center provides technical consultation and stud services to local breeders. Futher, the farm purchases weanlings from local breeders and sells these by auction, after the completion of its breaking in and training duties.
Jangsu Stud Farm & Training Center
Gross area: 1,515,517㎡ (374 acres)
Stable area: 22 buildings, 500 stalls
Training facilities: Outdoor training track (1,570m(L); 25m(W)), hill track (1,000m(L), 10m(W)), six lunging pens, indoor riding ground (40mx60m), 19 European exercisers, horse swimming pool (53m), two outdoor riding grounds (6,520㎡)
KRA opened another stud farm and training center in Jangsu county Jeollabuk-do to prepare for the nationwide operation of horse racing, and to strengthen the training of the racehorses. The construction of the stud farm and training center was started in 2002 and was completed in 2007. It was opened in the same year, and it has since been doing its best to train excellent racehorses by employing local and overseas experts to train them. Jangsu Stud Farm & Training Center will play the core role in the nationwide popularization horse racing and in improving the qualitative standard of the country's racehorses, along with Busan-Gyeongnam Racecourse and Yeongcheon Racecourse which is slated to open in 2016.
Wondang Stud Farm & Horse Racing School
Gross area: 362,156㎡ (89 acres)
Stable area: 3 buildings, 66 stalls
Training track: 960m (L)
Wondang Stud Farm has been open to the public since 1997, and it has turned into a must-see place to local residents for its beautiful scenery and friendly atmosphere. Horse Racing School, Korean racing academy for jockeys and horsemen, has played a significant role in Korean horse racing with producing outstanding apprentices.
Returning Profits to the society
Contributions to the national finances
KRA has been contributing to the national finances for the central and local governments by paying national and local taxes with 18% of its gross turnover from horse racing operations. In 2011, KRA made a significant contribution to the expansion of the national finances by paying KRW 336 billion of the total local education tax and KRW 162 billion of the special tax for rural development.
Reserve Fund for Specific Purposes
KRA operates the Reserve Fund for Specific Purposes, which accounts for 70% of its yearly profit, to carry out its social responsibility as a public corporation. The reserve fund is mainly used as financial resources for promoting the growth of the livestock industry and the welfare of the farming and fishing villages.
KRA sets up and operates donation funds within its self-budget every year to support the disadvantaged people in remote fishing and agrarian villages. KRA's Social Public Welfare Donation Fund(approximately KRW10 billion) is used as precious financial resources for various purposes, such as for the support of public welfare projects in fishing and agrarian villages, needy neighbors, welfare of local communities, and unpopular sports.
Activities for rural and fishery communities
The volunteer group, KRA Angels learns the value of the soil and the importance of sweat through volunteer activities in fishing and agrarian villages. The group maintains continuous exchanges by visiting KRA's sister villages based on the sisterhood program called "One-Company, One-Village Affiliation," and carries out KRA's exclusive activities, such as taking pictures of centenarians, while touring the whole country. KRA has been exerting tireless efforts to find a way for the urban and rural people to co-exist.
Welfare and public service
In its establishment of sisterhood ties with 21 social-welfare facilities for the purpose of conducting sustainable public-service activities, KRA takes the lead in showing its warm affection for its distant neighbors. The various love-sharing events led by KRA Angels are the representative volunteer activities of KRA.
KRA Angels Fund
KRA is operating this fund to contribute to the society by providing opportunities for the organization's executives and staff to participate in financial support activities. KRA provides an amount equivalent to the reserve fund for the KRA Angels to be spent for volunteer activities.
Free admission to major facilities
All the facilities of KRA are open to the public(including the local residents) free of charge throughout the year. The facilities include three Race Parks built as family theme parks, racehorse stud farms that are vividly alive with the refreshing breath of nature, and KRA Plazas as cultural spaces for the local communities.
Hands-on horse programs
Besides horse racing, KRA operates various socially beneficial projects related with horses, to strengthen the horse industry and to create new horse cultures. KRA is carrying out various projects, such as the all-Korean-horse riding campaign, the visiting riding schools, and rehabilitation riding for disabled children, as part of KRA's "Support Life with Horse Riding" Program.
Various cultural programs
KRA operates various cultural programs for the purpose of expanding the country's horse culture and stimulating its regional cultures. KRA is also exerting its utmost efforts to communicate with more people by holding many cultural festivals and operating permanent cultural spaces in race parks as well as KRA Plazas' cultural centers.
TOTAL ATTENDANCE 2007-2011
ATTENDANCE BY PLACE 2010-2011
ATTENDANCE BY DAY OF WEEK 2010-2011
|Day of Week||No. of Meetings||Total Attendance||Average Attendance||No. of Meetings||Total Attendance||Average Attendance|
- KRW1,000 ≒ USD0.86 / YEN67 / EUR0.66 / HKD6.72
TOTAL BETTING TURNOVER 2007-2011
|Year||Total Betting Turnover (M₩)|
BETTING TURNOVER BY BETTING PLACE 2010-2011
BREAKDOWN OF BETTING POOL 2007-2011
|Quinella Place||614,732||9.4||759,597||10.2||797,664||10.9 584,933||7.7||541,666||7.0|
Number of Fixtures 2007-2011
Number of Races 2007-2011
Number of Runners 2007-2011
Grade Races List 2011
Prize Money 2011
|Seoul (Thoroughbred)||Busan-Gyeongnam (Thoroughbred)||Jeju (Native pony)|
|Total Prize Money(M₩)||102,490||57,437||18,651|
|No. of Races||1,064||746||852|
|No. of Runners||1,954||1,258||1,140|
|Prize Money per Race(M₩)||96.3||77.0||21.9|
|Prize Money per Runner(M₩)||52.5||45.7||16.4|
Owners, Trainers, Jockeys, and Stablehands 2011
Leading Horses by Prize Money Earned 2011
|Year of birth||Sire||Dam||Records||Prize Money (₩)|
|DANGDAE BULPAE (KOR)||2007||BIWA SHINSEIKI (JPN)||INDEED MY DEAR (USA)||7(4/1/0)||690,450,000|
|USEUNG TOUCH (KOR)||2008||MENIFEE (USA)||JENNY TUDOR (GB)||8(4/2/0)||580,060,000|
|CHEONNYEON DAERO (KOR)||2007||CREEK CAT (USA)||DONEITMYWAY (USA)||12(2/8/1)||485,700,000|
|TOUGH WIN (USA)||2007||YONAGUSKA (USA)||MAGGIE MAY'S SWORD (USA)||8(5/2/0)||479,710,000|
|YEONGSEUNG DAERO (KOR)||2006||CREEK CAT (USA)||SENSATIONALKRIS (USA)||11(4/2/1)||438,350,000|
|TOP POINT (KOR)||2004||TOM CRUISER (USA)||MOONCELLO (USA)||8(3/5/0)||429,980,000|
|KKAKJAENGI (USA)||2008||PUT IT BACK (USA)||WILD DIXIE GAL (USA)||7(4/1/2)||429,770,000|
|ACE GALLOPER (KOR)||2007||CHAPEL ROYAL (USA)||EXPLICITLY (CAN)||8(6/1/0)||427,840,000|
|DONGSEO JEONGBEOL (KOR)||2008||VICAR (USA)||RENDEZVOUS BAY (USA)||13(7/1/0)||425,780,000|
|MISTER PARK (KOR)||2007||ECTON PARK (USA)||FORMAL DEAL (CAN)||7(6/1/0)||396,600,000|
Leading Sires by Earnings 2011
|Total Earnings (₩)||Rnrs||Wnrs||Top Season Earner||(₩)|
|EXPLOIT (USA)||3,339,327,000||112||34||CHAMPION BELT||327,370,000|
|MENIFEE (USA)||3,333,776,000||77||37||USEUNG TOUCH||580,060,000|
|VICAR (USA)||3,248,167,000||62||33||DONGSEO JEONGBEOL||425,780,000|
|CREEK CAT (USA)||2,980,533,000||69||29||CHEONNYEON DAERO||485,700,000|
|CONCEPT WIN (USA)||2,674,959,000||92||27||HONGJI||185,420,000|
|WAR ZONE (USA)||2,201,102,000||75||30||BLACK RUBY||193,570,000|
|VOLPONI (USA)||2,045,542,000||85||29||CROWN FLAG||155,310,000|
|FT. STOCKTON (USA)||1,918,536,000||91||26||CHEONUN||289,290,000|
|DIDYME (USA)||1,915,015,000||70||26||MUPAE STAR||242.950,000|
|BIWA SHINSEIKI (JPN)||1,710,714,000||41||18||DANGDAE BULPAE||690,450,000|
Leading Trainers by Number of Wins 2011
|Name||Runs||1st||2nd||3rd||Total Earnings (M₩)|
|WOLSLEY, Peter M.||259||42||41||31||2,263|
Leading Jockeys by Number of Wins 2011
|Name||Runs||1st||2nd||3rd||Total Earnings (M₩)|
Stallions, Broodmares, and Foals 2007-2011
Breeding Figures 2011
Sales Summary 2007-2011
|No. of Sales||5||5||5||6||7|
Sales Figures 2011
|No. of Sales||Offered||Sold||Aggregate(M₩)||Average(M₩)||Median(M₩)|
|2 Year Olds||5||391||159 (41%)||5,628||35.4||31.5|
Horse Culture of Korea
The use of horses by humans can be traced back to the remote ages, farther back than we imagine. Some horse pens have been found in the Neolithic dwelling remains in Middle Asia, and historic records show that horses were among the major trading items in the ancient countries. The same was true in Korea.
It can also be said that the ancient countries gave much importance to horses. They held memorial services for horse ancestors in the royal courts, established horse registers to control the horse population, and translated, compiled, and distributed horse medical books imported from China.
To promote better understanding of horses, let us look into the major uses of horses in the past. Horses were used by the armed forces in warfare on a national scale. This was why the government commandeered people along with their horses when a war broke out. It is very rare for an excellent steed not to appear at all in a story about a famous general.
Researches by scholars show that Przewalski’s Horse has existed as an endemic species in the peninsular since the Neolithic times. The horse was called “Gwahama(果下馬)” as its body was so small compared to most horses that it could stride under fruit trees. It became a major species.
The domesticated horses were used in hunting for wild animals. This tradition has existed for a very long time in Korea, as can be seen in the mural paintings of hunting scenes in the Goguryeo Dynasty’s Muyongchong(Tomb), in which warriors on horses are shown taking aim at other animals, with their bows drawn back, and on the folding screens of Horyepdo(胡獵圖)(a painting of a barbarian hunting scene), which were popular until the end of the Joseon Dynasty period.
Evidences have also been found of warriors and aristocrats enjoying martial arts or having fun on horseback, of people watching masangjae(馬上才)(a rider’s performance ot acrobatic feats while on a galloping horse) and enjoying Korean-style polo, where riders split into teams hit a wooden ball with a stick called jangsi(杖匙) into their opponent’s goal. These historic facts, based on evidences discovered in the 1990s through historic researches from the related literature, were perseveringly restored.
Horses are important because of their utility as means of transportation and communication. First, horses played a major role in enabling ancient states to seize power from other peoples living in remote provinces as they were the fastest transport means then. As horses, however, a transfer point in the middle of a course was needed to enable the horse to negotiate the same distance in the shortest time possible. The Silla Dynasty launched a system of paving the government roads, and installed stations on major paths, where horses could be transferred. In the late period of the Joseon Dynasty, there was a horse station every 30 “ri”(12km). It is interesting that the lines connecting such stations are not much different from the current railway and road networks.
Horses were also used in farming. Although it is not likely that the average farmers owned a horse as horses were as expensive as two or three slaves in the Joseon Dynasty, it is evident that horses were widely used in farming, along with cattle, as it was written in the agricultural books dating back to the Joseon Dynasty that horses pulled farming tools like the namtae(a traditional Korean farming tool for leveling or hardening the ground) to plow fields, and as instructions on how to make fertilizers from horse manure appear in such books. Besides, horses were used to deliver the crops and to turn the millstone when pounding the harvest.
In addition to the foregoing, the horsehair was used as a material for making woven headbands, skullcaps, caps for classical scholars, and the gat(a traditional Korean hat), and the horsehide was used for making various craft items, including musical instruments like the janggu(杖鼓)(a traditional Korean double-headed drum with a narrow waist). The horse bones were used in medicine, and the horsemeat and horse milk were supplied as foods. As horses gave all that they had to people, they had been designated as the best livestock and had been spoken of figuratively as “loyal retainers” in poems and paintings.
Many old cultures related to horses have disappeared, but Korea’s time-honored and varied horse cultures remain and ceaselessly flow in the Koreans’ ethnic spirits. This is shown by the fact that horses still hold an important position in our works of art, such as our literature and paintings, as well as in our sports and recreational activities. Horses are expected to nestle down deeply in our lives again, thanks to the development of the horse industry in the 21st century, as they have been traditionally recognized by the Koreans as useful and divine animals.