Go to contents

THE DONG-A ILBO Logo

Ski prototype of Korean Peninsula returns home in 106 years

Ski prototype of Korean Peninsula returns home in 106 years

Posted January. 19, 2018 08:53,   

Updated January. 19, 2018 09:25

한국어

Marking the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the ancient prototype of skis from the Korean Peninsula is coming back to Korea for the first time in 106 years. Identical to the 5,200-year-old skis in Sweden in their four-hole construction, the pair of Korean skis has been displayed at a Japanese ski museum for its historic importance.

The skis will be handed over to veteran skiers of South Korea including Im Gyeong-soon, the first South Korean skier to compete in winter Olympic games and president of Konjiam Ski Resort, to be displayed at the “Chamber of 100 years of Korean Ski History” inside Konjiam ski slope run by Serveone, an LG Group affiliate. The pair of ancient skis originated from Korea will be sent back to Japan mid-March after the PyeongChang Olympic Games are over. Starting in December last year, Serveone has visited Japan five times to reach an agreement on the exhibition of the skis.

The oldest existing skis in Korea and the only Asian ski built in a “four-hole construction,” the ancient prototypes were made of Mono maple trees. The skis are 160 centimeters long, and the width of the head and tail is each 6.4 centimeters and 5.5 centimeters, with the center width reaching 7 centimeters. The shape is opposite from their modern counterparts, which are slender in the middle. The four holes in the center are for the laces to lock down the feet. Back then, the ancient skis were called a “sled” and were labeled as “snow horse” in the Chinese characters.

The Japanese Memorial Museum of Skiing explains that the ancient Korean skis bear a historic value. The pair is evidence pointing to the fact that skis similar to the prototypes were used quite recently in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. In particular, the four-hole construction is highly rare in ski archeology, and the origin of finding, the Korean Peninsula, indicates that skis were preval‎ent across Europe and Eurasia during the ancient times.

South Korean experts categorize the ancient skis as “fourth century northern ski” (from “70 years of Ski History” by Korea Ski Association published in 1999), while others, including Son Gyeong-seok, the first president of Daegwallyeong Ski Museum, call them the “first ski prototype in the world.”

“The same types of skis originated from the ancient Scandinavia in the west of Northern Europe were found in Korea’s South Hamgyong Province in 1911, and it is estimated that they had been carried by Tungus tribes when traveling to the east,” said Shiho Yamazaki, the author of “History of Japanese Ski Development” (published in 1936).



summer@donga.com