A Solid Decision: North and South Korea Win Joint Bid for UNESCO Recognition of Traditional Wrestling Culture

Ssireum at the Gangneung Dano Festival in South Korea
Ssireum at the Gangneung Dano Festival in South Korea
Korean Ssireum Association, UNESCO

North Korea and South Korea have come together in an unprecedented collaboration over a shared passion: wrestling. The two countries recently made a joint bid for traditional Korean wrestling—called ssireum or ssirum—to be recognized in UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, according to The Guardian.

Initially, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) entered two different bids for UNESCO to recognize their form of wrestling as a cultural treasure. The South Korean application called the practice ssireum, while the North Korean application called it ssirum, but the practice they described was the same. Well-known on both sides of the Korean peninsula, ssireum/ssirum involves two wrestlers who use long fabric belts to try to force their opponent to the ground.

Because of this, UNESCO's director general, Audrey Azoulay, convinced the two countries to combine their applications into a single joint bid, which was accepted on November 26. It's now listed on the Intangible Cultural Heritage site as "Traditional Korean wrestling (Ssirum/Ssireum)," with descriptions from both the North and South Korean bids.

While the Korean peninsula has been split into two sovereign countries since the end of World War II, North and South Korea have more than a millennia of shared cultural and political history dating back to the creation of the first unified Korean state in the 7th century. As a result, there are plenty of cultural mainstays common to the two countries, and North and South Korea have submitted similar bids to the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage before, including ones regarding kimchi. "Kimjang, making and sharing kimchi in the Republic of Korea" and "Tradition of kimchi-making in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea" were granted cultural heritage status separately (in 2013 and 2015), for instance. While it's not uncommon for countries in the same region to submit joint bids, this is the first time North and South Korea have agreed to do so.

[h/t The Guardian]

6 Things You Should Know About Boxing Day

Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Relax, Hallmark conspiracy theorists: Boxing Day isn’t some prank to confuse America. It’s a real holiday in the United Kingdom and other European countries that dates back to the days of Queen Victoria. Here are some facts to get you up to speed.

1. It occurs on December 26th.

Boxing Day is observed annually on December 26. If it falls on a weekend, the public holiday itself will be celebrated on Monday. It became an official holiday during the reign of Queen Victoria, though some historians trace its origins back much further—to medieval times. Today, it's largely an extension of the Christmas holiday and a big day for sporting events and shopping.

2. No one really knows where the name originated.

Many historians think the holiday’s name is derived from the church practice of opening alms boxes the day after Christmas and distributing money to the poor. Historically, British employers followed the church’s lead by sliding workers and servants gifts or cash on December 26.

Others believe the "box" refers to the boxes of gifts employers gave to their servants on the day after Christmas. (In wealthy households, servants were often required to work on Christmas Day but given December 26th off in order to celebrate the holiday on their own.)

3. It's a big day for shopping.

Historically, Boxing Day's post-Christmas sales have long made it one of the U.K.'s busiest shopping days of the year. And while it still falls within the top five biggest shopping days of the year, the popularity of online shopping has reduced the overall spending people do on December 26.

“Fifteen years ago it was pretty much guaranteed that you would only get big sales a few times a year—Boxing Day and the big summer clearance," Bryan Roberts, an analyst at Kantar Retail, told The Telegraph in 2015. That is no longer the case.” 

“The Boxing Day sales are pretty much dead,” Roberts added. “Black Friday and Cyber Monday illustrate Christmas sales are starting earlier and earlier. There is a possibility prices will just keep on dropping in the run-up to Christmas. This makes the Boxing Day sales incredibly diluted."

4. There is no boxing involved.

Despite the name, British observances of Boxing Day involve no fisticuffs. For patricians, however, another sport rules the day: fox hunting. Though it's a long-held tradition, many animal rights activists and groups would like to see the practice done away with altogether. Especially since, technically, it's illegal. In the days leading up to Boxing Day, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is often very vocal in reminding citizens that "The chasing or killing of foxes and other British mammals with a pack of dogs was banned because the overwhelming majority of the UK public rejected this so-called 'sport' as cruel and abhorrent."

5. Some other countries do take the name more literally.

In other countries, Boxing Day celebrations are more literal. Some former British colonies in Africa and the Caribbean celebrate the holiday with prizefighting events.

6. In Ireland, December 26th is sometimes known as Wren Day.

Ireland sometimes refers to December 26 as Wren Day, a nod to an old tradition in which poor children would kill a wren, then sell the feathers to neighbors for good luck. In today’s celebrations, the wren is fake.

11 Brilliant Gifts for Outdoorsy People

iStock
iStock

Research suggests that exposure to nature has a number of health benefits—and at this time of year, your friends and family could probably use all they can get. Make their journey into the great outdoors fun and fuss-free with these gear picks, suitable for a variety of skill levels—from urban glamper to backcountry expert.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. FJÄLLRÄVEN Keb Touring Down Jacket

These lightweight, intensely squishable down jackets for men and women will keep your camping buddies extra-warm. The outer layer of recycled polyamide features reinforced panels on the shoulders, lower sleeves, and back, while the insulation of 95 percent ethically produced goose down and 5 percent feathers has a toasty 800 fill power. The whole jacket weighs only 150 grams (5.3 ounces)—perfect for ultralight backpacking as well as roasting marshmallows around the campfire.

Find It at Amazon for $450 and also at these other retailers:

2. Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lantern And USB Power Hub

This compact lantern emits 400 lumens of LED light for spotlight-level brightness, while the dimmable directional lighting feature saves power for extended use. It also recharges fast using USB, solar, or hand-cranked energy. The built-in USB port can juice up phones and other small devices so your pals never miss an Instagram post.

Find It at Amazon for $70 and also these other retailers:

3. Bike-mounted Bottle Carrier

Handmade in Boulder, Colorado from upcycled bike inner tubes and tent fabric, this convenient six-bottle carrier mounts over a bike frame and safely transports craft brews from fridge to frontier. The insulated sleeves cushion each bottle separately and the carrier includes a handle for toting on foot. Creator Davidson Lewis makes each carrier by hand, so colors and patterns vary.

Find It at Uncommon Goods for $40.

4. REI CO-OP FLASH 22 DAY PACK

Ideal for camping or commuting, this 22-liter lightweight pack features a roomy top-loading main compartment with an inner sleeve for hydration reservoir (or laptop or folders), zippered exterior pockets for small items, and two deep side pockets for bottles. The padded mesh back panel, detachable waist and sternum straps, and stretch-mesh shoulder straps offer breathable comfort even when the pack is fully stuffed.

Find It at Rei for $38 and up.

5. Hestra Sport Classic Deerskin Primaloft Rib Gloves

Inspired by nature's materials, these durable gloves are hand-sewn from North American white-tailed deer skin and insulated with Primaloft polyester for weather-resistant warmth. Hestra's attention to detail is obvious in the super-soft pair's elasticized knitted cuff—which helps the gloves stay on while keeping heat in—and pre-curved fit.

Find It at Amazon for $110 and up.

6. Yeti Hopper Flip 18 Cooler

There are many reasons why Yetis are the coolers du jour: They keep food and drinks ice-cold for days, thanks to their superior insulation, even when the outside temp climbs. They're extremely durable and packed with convenient field-tested features. And, let's be honest, they have elevated the utilitarian fishing cooler to an object of desire. The Hopper Flip 18, measuring about 10 by 13 by 16 inches, can stash 20 cans of beer with plenty of ice for bonfires on the beach, kicking back post-trek, or a weekend off the grid.

Find It at Amazon for $300.

7. Biolite Holiday Bundle

BioLite CampStove2 limited edition holiday bundle
BioLite

A one-and-done gift for adventurers who want to travel compactly, BioLite's limited-edition bundle contains everything necessary for a meal in the wilderness. BioLite's wood-burning CampStove 2 generates electricity for the attached battery and USB charger as well as heat for cooking. The bundle includes two accessories: the KettlePot, a grab-and-go cook pot; and the lightweight Portable Grill, a tabletop model that can fit four burgers at once. The included FlexLight shines a light on your next culinary masterpiece. Save $40 when purchasing these three items as a bundle.

Find It at Biolite Energy for $200 and also at these other retailers:

8. Lifestraw Universal Water Filter And Adaptor Kit

Your giftee can turn her fave water bottle into a powerful filtration system with the Lifestraw Universal. The two-stage filter first removes water-borne bacteria and protozoa (in up to 1000 liters), then improves water quality and taste with a replaceable activated charcoal capsule (up to 100 liters), meeting EPA drinking water standards. In addition to the filter and carry bag, the adaptor kit includes two cap sizes and two mouthpieces that are compatible with most Nalgene, Camelbak, Klean Kanteen, Hydro Flask, and other standard bottles.

Find It: Amazon for $30.

9. Kicker EB400 Waterproof Bluetooth Earbuds

Let your friends rock out to Taylor Swift in the great outdoors without preventing anyone else from enjoying peace and quiet. Kicker's earbuds are both waterproof and wireless, and they won't fall out of one's ears during strenuous activity in any climate. Their 8-hour battery life means users will be able to complete a day hike without needing to power up in the middle. The earbuds come with anti-skip Bluetooth technology to connect to phones and tablets, a microphone for calls, and three pairs of color-coded silicone tips for a custom fit.

Find It at Amazon for $98 and also at these other retailers:

10. Tentsile Vista Tree Tent

A mashup of a traditional tent and impressive treehouse, the Vista is a triangular three-person tent that connects hammock-style to anchor trees at three points, letting campers sleep suspended above wet, rocky or uneven terrain. This three-season model features open sides and a central floor hatch for entry, plus a removable insect net. The rain fly/roof can also be removed so users can lie directly under the stars. (The above photo shows an un-roofed Vista mounted below a roofed Vista.) The ingenious design can be put up by a single person in about 15 minutes and packed down into its carry bag for easy transport.

Find It at Tentsile for $550.

11. Pendleton Three-Notebook Set

Three Pendleton notebooks

Great for jotting down field notes, this set of three 6-by-8-inch notebooks features Pendleton Woolen Mills's heritage blanket patterns on the covers. Each center-stitched book contains 64 pages of lined, uncoated paper for a slim profile that will fit in your giftee's pocket or pack without adding too much weight or bulk.

Find It at Pendleton for $13.

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