In order to help fight off predators, man invented a great weapon For a long time, nothing was faster than the bow The moment mankind got their hands on the bow, they became the masters It didn’t take long for bows to become weapons of war Bows got stronger over time Especially the Koreans defeated many enemies with archery But why were the Koreans so good at archery, that they were known as the nation of archers? And what did they need to become such good archers? We will find out The Bow (New Year Special Documentary) Chang Hyejin, Rio Olympic double gold medalist Though she’s shorter than her bow, she compensates for her size with intense focus because archery is a sport where every millimeter matters The arrow went like this, ah.. the wind got it The intense winds affect even the fast arrows Shooting in these unpredictable winds is difficult even for Olympic archers When the wind is strong, arrows don’t go where you aim your sights, so archers have to rely on their experience So shooting in the wind is all about gut feeling But Chang Hyejin’s instincts seem off lately I couldn’t read the wind very quickly so I was all over the place Are you disappointed?
-A little bit Having finished all her events, they’ve come somewhere special Hello The first things you notice is that the bows are smaller than Olympic bows, and that the targets are much farther away Wow, intriguing Far isn’t it? Compared to Olympic archery
Yeah.. twice as far right? Yeah, 145 meters In Korean Traditional Archery they shoot at the longest distance in the world In the past they used to shoot 500 ‘bo’ with horn bows about 250~300 meters How do you shoot so far with such a small bow? Not only is the bow short, we also pull them farther back for more power The flexible limbs on the Korean bow allow a longer pull than modern recurves Pull all the way back, to behind your ear Don’t you get hit on the cheek when you let go? Pull.. It’s OK, you can pull more To your cheek How will her first shot with a Korean bow go? It went that way, into the woods It went into my cabbage patch Even for an archer like Chang Hyejin, traditional Korean archery isn’t easy Because the Korean bow has no sights to aim with, you have to rely on muscle memory When you make a mistake with a traditional bow, it affects your shot a lot more than with a modern bow So you have to be a lot more aware of your body in traditional archery Muscle memory is very important in any kind of archery But why did Koreans become so good at this? Korean military strategies have focused on defending mountain fortresses and the best way to do this was to shoot bows from a great distance away To combat hordes with a small population, you have to hit them from afar before they get too close So we developed a bow that excels at shooting far Weaker forces needed powerful bow to overcome superior enemy forces An example of this were the Mongols In this endless Mongol sea of grass, this old man has herded sheep the same way his forefathers have for generations With his cute grandchildren What these kids are stacking, are traditional Mongol archery targets Shooting from 45m away, Mongol competitions are quite unique You can score by hitting this low target directly, or also by bouncing arrows into it The kids yell something when a target is knocked over: Uhai (yay?) But for some reason this girl is pouting Do you want to shoot like your sister? He has been teaching archery to all his grandchildren Try pulling the bow Your arm has to be still, but it moved as you shot You’re compensating for the wind incorrectly Their aiming technique has been passed down for generations In the past we used to use the knuckles for aiming Listen to the wind as you hold your bow Archery seems to be in their blood Archery was an essential part of any nomad’s life Used to protect their family from any outside threats The bow fed and protected us It’s her job to teach her baby brother Try closing your eye, got it? Closing one eye seems difficult for a three year old He’s happiest when he sees his grandchildren’s archery improving who will pass on this tradition to their kids But surprisingly they’re using a Korean bow You can string a Korean bow all day with no problems but you have to unstring a Mongol bow or it will lose power Korean bow left, Mongol bow right The Korean bow has more power How good is the Korean bow that they’re using it even in this far away land? We’ve come to the Mokpo fish market this early morning What he’s looking for today isn’t some common seafood This croaker was caught today, 5kg You want one? Croaker is difficult to catch so is quite expensive Croaker stew is quite popular But the meat isn’t what we came for This is the swim bladder I’m going to make a bow
-A bow? With the swim bladder? Yes I’m going to use it as glue Now that you mention it, it looks quite sticky This man has been making bows for 23 years now The bow he’s making is a Korean horn bow The core is made of strong and flexible bamboo And the siyahs (tips) that the string goes on is made of mulberry To increase the gluing surface area, v splices are made Sticking the different materials together is important The swim bladder is boiled into a thick glue Not only is this glue strong, it’s also flexible This gluing process combines the different materials into the core to take advantage of their different properties There’s another reason the Korean bow is special This is water buffalo horn, this is why the bow is called a horn bow When you heat horn on a fire, it becomes soft almost like rubber This gives a bow the power to shoot far Gluing this to the core makes it stronger Horn is one of the springiest natural materials available This is the Korean hornbow At first glance it doesn’t look very special But it becomes clear when you take the string off With the string off, the bow is curved into a circle No other bow forms a complete circle like this This Mongol bow maker has always had a special interest in Korean bows The characteristic of the Korean bow is that they glue a layer of horn and long strands of sinew Mongol bows also have a glued horn belly The Mongol bow also used horn and was very powerful They’ve come out early in the morning to pray because they have a dream I want to make my family proud at the Naadam games tomorrow I prayed that I would become ‘mergen’ (archery champion) I’ve trained hard to become mergen Ahead of the games, her grandfather is preparing a feast They only eat lamb on special occasions Full?
Full! Confident you’ll shoot well tomorrow?
No! Let’s do our best Though they enjoy archery today, it wasn’t something you could even talk about twenty years ago There was a time when Mongol culture was suppressed During communism, you couldn’t speak Genghis Khan’s name In the Soviet era you weren’t allowed to learn about Genghis Khan and the Mongol empire But their grandfather always kept the stories in his heart In the 13th century, Genghis Khan conquered many countries and invaded Europe The Europeans called the Mongols, Tartars (people from hell) After conquering Russia, the Mongols approached Europe “The enemy is near” Knights from many countries gathered together to defend Polish Liegnitz Compared to the knights in armour, armed with swords and crossbows, the Mongols looked very different The European knights looked down on the small, toy-like bows of the Mongols The Mongols started the battle with a frontal cavalry charge The European army used crossbows Though they were accurate, they were difficult to load so they could only shoot twice a minute Knights appeared to meet the Mongol charge The Mongols were surprised by the knights and ran away The knights pursued the retreating Mongols relentlessly The knights had almost caught the Mongols but then! A twist that nobody expected The Mongols turned around in their saddles and started shooting Because European bows were 2m long, they had never imagined you could shoot bows backwards on a horse They didn’t break off the pursuit but instead followed where the Mongols led them All of a sudden, they were surrounded by Mongols who were waiting in ambush The Mongol retreat was actually a trap they called the tactic of retreating and then attacking with bows ‘mandudai’ Thick armour and heavy swords were useless against the small and fast Mongol bows This was an age where bows ruled the battlefields Our small bows changed the world They connect with their ancestors through archery Mongols pridefully claim their bow is the best in the world But they recognize the strength of the Korean bow The Korean bow is the best in the world Because the Mongol bow is long, when you pull it it only bends 30~40% When you pull a Korean bow, it bends 70~80% So the smaller Korean bow shoots farther Though the components are similar, the bow is quite different There are historical records of many nations being surprised by Korean bows Mongol and Chinese bows also use water buffalo horn and sinew But five more materials go into Korean bows Fish bladders for glue, mulberry, bamboo, oak and then to protect the bow from moisture, birch bark is glued at the end The bow has developed to perfectly suit the Korean climate and environment It’s up to the likes of this man to continue and pass on the Korean bow making tradition What kind of bamboo do you need? About 45cm
That big? Yes, the nodes have to be that far apart Then you’ll have to go somewhere else, can you make a bow that big? He has traveled across the country looking for just the right bamboo Here he found one that’s just right Something I always wanted to do, was reproduce a historically accurate bow First step in making a reproduction is to go see an artifact He heard that this university museum has such a bow Not only is it long, but the width is very intimidating It looks large and powerful Such large Korean bows could only be seen in books According to the historical archery manual ‘archery of Chosun’ this bow is a jeongr-yang-gung (large bow) This bow is powerful due to the large and thick limbs Used in military action and exams, soldiers had to be familiar with it Because the bow was strong and the draw weight was high there are records of many soldiers getting injured shooting it This bow is significant because it’s a surviving example of the old military bows The bowyer’s hard at work on the reproduction Having taken an interest in traditional archery, Chang Hyejin has come to visit There’s a picture hanging in his workshop That bow is the jeong-ryang-gung The bow must have been hard to shoot, they look strained Somehow I can tell he’s shaking from the exertion These arrows, yug-ryang-shi (weighing 0.5 lbs or 226 g) would have been shot with this bow It’s a lot heavier than it looks. Just from the arrow I can tell the bow must have been powerful Why did you decide to make this bow out of all the many types of bows? Not only is the jung-ryang-gung a powerful warbow, it was also used for military state exams You had to be able to shoot this bow well and far to get promoted This bow has a lot of significance in Korean history So I wanted to see what this bow is like From all levels of society, there are many stories of people defending Korea with the bow Lee Ok was a slave Raiders, there are raiders coming! Where are you going?
I have to get out of here Upon hearing of the attack, the soldiers abandoned the civilians and ran away Japanese pirate attacks were common “Only villages 20km inland were peaceful. This is due to pirate attacks” They also took women as slaves and killed them if they resisted While the attack was going on, there was nobody to defend the civilians It looked hopeless But the slave Lee Ok returned The slave Lee Ok shot at the pirates then escaped into the woods The only weapon he had was a bow But he had a plan He used the length of the Japanese bow against them He started shooting at them from 200m away That way! Not knowing where the arrow came from, they were confused Having placed arrows in the ground at various places, he shot as he ran about The Japanese had bows too but they were over 2m long At that length it couldn’t have been easy to move about in the woods And because they weren’t curved like the Korean bow they only had a range of 80m The slave Lee Ok stood alone to save the civilians Soldiers were chosen through military exams started in the Chosun era The focus of these exams was archery If you were a good archer, you could become a military officer and you rose in society So archery spread in Korea A peasant could shoot a bow just as well as a noble could Only your skill mattered, not your background Many Olympic archers showed up to this contest last year But an unranked highschooler surprised everyone by beating world #4 ranked Kim Woojin #1 Kim Woojin didn’t have an easy time against him either It’s not funny, he’s way too good After winning the Olympics I entered two Korean national tournaments but both times got eliminated in the first round There’s barely any skill differences between those at the top Coaches from around the world to try to learn from the Koreans Korean archery’s great
Yes, very good The French team can’t compete
Shooting like this is impossible The long standing Korean coach believes in equal opportunities There’s pedigree in sports Whether it’s because you graduated from a famous sports school or joined a prestigious team But there’s none of that in archery The only thing that matters in qualifying for the Korean archery team is your performance You have to shoot those qualifying 4055 arrows to get in I think this system that only looks at your scores is the reason for our dominance in the sport I think that’s why we’ve won eight golds in a row July last year, the team came to a baseball stadium They stood there awkwardly for some moments They had practiced in wind, rain and snow but they said this was the most difficult But they soon got a hold of themselves There are many mental aspects You try to ignore everything but yourself and the target As if you’re alone on the target line I don’t want to feel the pressure so I just don’t think at all If you think “I have to hit this 10” you’ll get distracted With every arrow I just try to do my best They say archery is a mental sport Control over your emotions was important for our ancestors too It was the same for battle We come back to the slave Lee Ok’s story He wasn’t born a slave The accused is guilty of treason and will be executed as punishment His father was a high government official framed for treason by an opposing party and his family were taken as slaves He lost everything overnight The nation had done nothing for him So it can’t have been easy for him to fight for his country alone With enemies all around him, a single miss could mean his death The fear of death must have been terrifying Even for a great archer, controlling these emotions would have been challenging When you pull a bow, it reflects your emotions “A fearful and weak mind cannot hit the target” Without this mental fortitude, Koreans would not have been able to repel so many enemy attacks The Mongol Naadam festival starts with a horse race Traditional Mongol games are played to celebrate their independence Archers from all over Mongolia have trained and come to win the title of ‘merghen’ Every archer’s dream is to become ‘merghen’ at these games I’ve shot a bow all my life but I’ve never won even in my dreams Another challenger for the title of ‘merghen’ He watches his rivals But shooting with one eye closed is too difficult for him So his sister comes up with a temporary solution He quickly becomes something of a celebrity The eldest sister takes part in the first competition The competition is strong this year so there’s a lot of pressure on her Winning at the Nadaam games can open up many opportunites I want to shoot well and make my family happy It comes down to her last arrow Unfortunately, she misses She seems on the verge of tears but holds it in I don’t tell them I’m proud when they lose I’m a little disappointed The grandfather has a lot of pride in his Mongol heritage The bow is the weapon with which the Mongols conquered a large empire They have to inherit this archer’s mentality to succeed That’s why I hope my children carry on the archery tradition I’m going to continue shooting with my grandfather and siblings The bow that disappeared into history Eight months have passed since he started working on it It takes 3000 actions to make a bow The finished bow is larger and wider than normal Korean bows This is the bow our ancestors trained and overcame their limitations with On hearing of the bow’s completion, Chang Hyejin returned It’s bigger than I expected It’s her first time seeing a horn bow the size of an Olympic bow Did you hear that, in my bones? It’s the sound of my bones stretching, that’s how difficult this bow is How did our ancestors shoot this? It must have been hard using this bow at exams, they must have trained a lot What started as a weapon of war, was eventually practiced as a way to improve oneself Try pulling it That’s difficult Would I have failed the exam? You wouldn’t have been promoted I guess I’d be stuck as a peasant I think our ancestors’ effort and history helps our national team win gold medals I think so too, it’s in our blood The reason we were known as the nation of archers is because everyone had the opportunity to shoot bows and change their stars Maybe we can overcome modern problems through archery too