Have you ever heard about the Korean traditional archery? Since the blockbuster Korean film Arrow, the Ultimate Weapon (2011), people have become exceedingly more interested in Korean traditional archery. Our ancestors employed the bow and arrow as their main weapon of choice in war. It was also used in sporting activities, but people these days consider Western archery more captivating than Korean traditional archery. The Sookmyung Times (SMT) was pleased to learn there is a newly formed club for it at SMU, and met up with Snow Bow to talk about its unusual activities.
SMT Would you please introduce Korean traditional archery to our readers?
Snow Bow Korean traditional archery is called Gukgung, and it was enjoyed by Seonbi, or classical scholars. Traditionally, it was only done by men; however, in modern times, since it is used only for sport, it is done by people of all ages and gender. Also, traditionally, it was done to train one’s body and mind as well as to learn courtesy.
SMT Korean traditional archery isn’t common, especially among the younger generation. What made you (Kang Hyeran, representative of Snow Bow) establish this club?
Snow Bow I learned the sport at first in high school, but I stopped doing it until recently. One day, my teacher suggested undergraduates to try Korean traditional archery. It was then I learnt there were a lot of other Sookmyungians interested in it. However, in reality there are few chances to learn or experience Korean traditional archery. Therefore, I felt a campus club could provide the best chances to introduce the sport to students more easily, and the idea led Snow Bow to being born.
SMT What does the club name ‘Snow Bow’ stand for?
Snow Bow 'Snow’ has two separate meanings. First, as a SMU Korean archery club, it reflects the symbol of Sookmyung, the snowflower. Next, it holds our hope to enjoy Korean traditional archery steadily until the winter snow falls.
SMT Although you haven't been doing Korean traditional archery for very long, what do you feel its most attractive point?
Snow Bow Its basic posture makes a woman’s figure more beautiful and it can strengthen one's arm muscles. However, its most attractive merit is that it allows one to remove any distracting thoughts while engaging in deep concentration. The expression, ‘Shooting arrows is like shooting one's mind’ best sums it up.
SMT Would you explain the main activities of Snow Bow and future plans for the club?
Snow Bow We first begin with theory learnt from a textbook, and then we turn our theoretical knowledge into practise by engaging in correct posture with a teacher at Seokho Jeong, an archery field. After mastering basic skills, we perform Jipkkungnye, a ritual commemorating one's first-time shooting. We have a plan to visit all Jeongs throughout Korea, and we are also planning to open a booth where people can experience this traditional sport at the next Chungpa Festival.
SMT Would you like to add about Snow Bow for readers of SMT?
Snow Bow Most people see Korean traditional archery as a nobleperson's sport that is quite costly and dangerous. However, relatively speaking, it does not differ much from other general sports. Finally, we have a responsibility to preserve Korean traditional culture through activities like opening the first Korean traditional archery club at a women’s university in Korea for the younger generation.