Today, the DPRK encourages its people to play various mass-based sports games. Among them is the tug-of-war, a folk sports event which always steals the public limelight.
Humankind began to use ropes to pull or drag something while making creative work for existence, which was developed into a rope-pulling game.
Historical data show that the game dated back to the BC period and began to be popular from the period of feudal Joson dynasty (1392-1910). Such historical documents as Tongguksesigi and Tonggukyojisungnam carried detailed explanations of the tug-of-war in those years.
As the rope used in the contest was made by twisting rice straw or arrowroot vines together, the tug-of-war was also called “arrowroot rope contest”.
The main rope, called wonjul, was 50 to 60 centimetres in thickness and 300 to 400 metres in length. It was so thick that it was impossible for players to pull it directly. Therefore, short and slender ropes nine to ten cm in diameter and two to three metres in length were made fast to the main rope at intervals of about one metre. Those ropes were called tongjul. People pulled these ropes to play the contest.
Divided into teams of children, young people and grownups, the contest was usually played before or after Jongwolborum (15th day of the first lunar month) or Chusok (Harvest Moon Day, 15th day of the eighth lunar month) and other folk festivals in some localities.
The contest between grownups was staged on a large grass field or on a spacious ground which formed the boundary between two villages or two counties.
It drew hundreds or thousands of locals from villages or counties or sub-counties, including players and boosters.
Tug-of-war, together with other sports events, is widely played in all units of the country, including institutions, industrial establishments, co-op farms and schools, on several occasions.