[Hallyupedia] Gyeungungi (경운기)

나확진 / 인턴 이효윤 / 2021-10-16 07:00:26
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By Ra Hwak Jin / Lee Hyo Yoon


[ENG]: An agricultural motored machine also known as cultivator 



▲ This photo shows cultivators. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


A cultivator is a machine used in cultivating activities such as plowing or breaking down clods, leveling the ground or seeding and carrying; It is also used to provide force to works done in stable conditions such as threshing grains or pumping water.

As the machine can conduct various kinds of works by simply changing its working part, it can be considered the main source of agricultural mechanization.


Cultivator was initially used for gardening during the 1920s in the Western countries, and was popularized for agricultural use. It started to become popular in Korea in the early 1960s.

As cultivator became common in the Korean agricultural fields, machines took over most of the works done by cattle in the traditional fields.

While cows use their muscles, cultivators use engine power.

A cultivator’s engine is normally 5~10 horsepower. The machine has 2 wheels and the driver basically walks out the work instead of driving the vehicle.

Due to these characteristics, cultivators are also known as pedestrian tractor or two-wheeled tractor.


Originally cultivators are to be dragged around paddies, but in Korea, we normally attach a trailer to the machine and drive it around like a cargo truck and carry around stuff.


People riding on the back of a cultivator to drive across the paddy used to be a typical countryside sight before the 1980s. But as cars have become common in country places too, it has become harder to see cultivators driven across the field as a transportation as it did in the past.




▲  This photo shows a busy farming villagers plowing their land in Ganeung, Gangwon Province. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 

◇ “Cultivators on mud flats” MUD MAX becomes popular as dope icon at Korean fishing villages

Cultivators are frequently used not only in agricultural villages but also in fishing villages as well. The machines are suitable to move around wetlands where wheels get stuck in the mud.

In a promotion video for Korean tourism, “Feel the Rhythm of Korea 2,” released in September by Korea Tourism Organization, contains cultivators running together at high speed across the wetland of our representative fishing village, Susan.

The video also known as “Susan MUD MAX” has gained huge popularity recording 34 million YouTube views until today.


It is a parody of Hollywood film “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The video starts with a man starting the engine of his cultivator then the other villagers bring their cultivator and drive across the mud flat together.

About 6,000 comments such as “When the engine started, my body and mind did too,” and “Cultivator so dope” responded to the video.




▲ This photo shows people on cultivators crossing mud flat in Taean-gun, South Chungcheong Province. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonahp) 

◇ A agricultural machine not a vehicle… no need for driver’s license

Even if a trailer is attached to the back of a cultivator to use it as a car, the driver does not need to have a driver’s license.

As it is categorized into agricultural machines according to Agricultural Mechanization Promotion act, the machine is not affected by traffic laws.

Like this, as it is not a car, drunk drivers are not penalized. But, if the driver makes an accident, he or she take civil or criminal liability.

As farm population are aging, senior cultivator drivers are increasing which lead to quite a lot of accidents.

During 2015~2019, the total number of accidents by agricultural machines was 6,616 and half of the figure was due to cultivators, according to the Ministry of Interior and Safety. Also, as 74% of cultivator caused accidents were crashes or falling over, we can see that most of the cases happened while using the machine as a transportation vehicle.

“Developed countries including Austria have specified vehicles’ licenses and added a license for agricultural machines as well. We need to complement the polices to prevent accidents minimizing the farmers’ discomfort in the same time,” said Lee Kyung-sook head of Department of Agro-food Safety and Crop Protection of the National Institute of Agricultural Science.





▲ This photo shows a farmer driving a cultivator, (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap) 



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