Sports and Recreation
The leisure industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in Korea. Koreans enjoy traditional sports like tae-kwon-do, a form of martial arts and ssirum, an entertaining spectator sport that is similar to wrestling. In international sport competitions, Koreans have won numerous medals in handball, volleyball, archery, swimming and wrestling. Basketball, soccer and skiing are also popular sports.
Tae-kwon-do originated in Korea 2000 years ago as an exercise in self-defence. It has grown into a popular international sport. Advanced students of tae-kwon-do can break wooden planks and bricks with their bare hands and feet. Tae-kwon-do instructors try to instill a sense of fair play, encourage self-confidence and increase a student's sense of spiritual well-being. Students wear loose white pants and a jacket that is tied with a belt. The belts are of different colours to indicate a student's level of expertise. During the 1988 summer Olympics in Seoul and the 1992 summer Olympics in Barcelona, tae-kwon-do was a demonstration sport. It will be an official event in the 2000 summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
Ssirum also began as a method of self-defence over 1500 years ago. The rules are simple. A competitor tries to grasp his opponent's belt or satba, and throw him to the ground, but if the wrestler's body touches the ground anywhere above the knee, the other person wins. Because ssirum was a popular sport in the agricultural community, a bull was awarded to the winner.
People of all ages like to go hiking on local mountains near the cities.
Did you know?

Son Ki-jong was the first Korean to win a Gold Medal in a marathon during the 1936 Olympics. At that time, however, Korea was under Japanese colonization and the medal was won for Japan.