Development is a disruptive process because improvements are accompanied by fundamental changes in community relations that can inadvertently displace people. Communities typically naturally adapt to disruptions through the revision of their identities and traditions. While these adaptations can preserve or build social capital, they can also foster exclusionary attitudes and worsen inequality. Korea experienced tremendously disruptive events starting with Japanese colonial occupation. The Korean community adapted by elevating the common folk game of wrestling into a national sport. In creating this modernized tradition, the community built new forms of social capital in previously unknown industries and built a new identity. However, the benefits of this experience were not managed well and its success declined over time. Learning from Korea’s history with ssireum provides insight into how cultural traditions can be used to address development’s disruptive tendencies through promoting social capital.