Korean Games

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1. Tuho

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Tuho (투호) is a traditional China and Korean game that requires players to throw sticks into a large, sometimes ornate, canister from a certain distance. The game is a traditional diversion on Korean New Year's Day and Chuseok. Modern versions are often played with a simple canister and rubber-tipped arrows. Tuho was also a popular drinking game. For every arrow that missed the pot, the loser or bulseung (불승/不承, lit. no-success) had to take a drink. To prevent betting on the outcome, losers could opt to sing a song as a penalty instead. Players who did not miss the canister were called hyeon (현, lit. wise).[1][2]

Watch how to play this game and other games here. (Tuho, Jaegi jagi, Paeng yi chi gi, Yut nori)

2. Jaegichagi

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Jegichagi is a Korean traditional outdoor game. It requires the use of people's foot and Jegi, an object used to play jegichagi. Jegi looks like a badminton shuttlecock, which is made of a small coin (quarter size), paper, or cloth. In Korea, children usually play alone or with friends in winter seasons, especially on Lunar New Year. Briefly explaining the rules, the player kicks a jegi up in the air and keeps on kicking to prevent from falling to the ground. In a one-to-one game, a player with the most number of consecutive kicks wins. In a group game, the players stand in a circle, and take turns kicking the Jegi. Players who fail to kick the Jegi upon receiving it and let it drop to the ground lose. As a penalty, the loser tosses the jegi at the winner so that he can kick it as he wishes. When the loser catches the jegi back with his hands, the penalty ends and he can rejoin the game. This has developed, and people combined two or three materials and made new ways of playing jegichagi. Though Jegichagi used to be a game mostly played in winter, it has become a year-round game. [3]

3. Paengichigi

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Paengichigi, or top-spinning, is a pastime game for the boys. It is played by spinning a round wooden top on its pointed end by whipping it with strings attached to a stick. They use a wooden stick to keep the top in motion, and the one whose top spins the longest is the winner. It is a challenging game in which contestants try knocking down the other's top while keeping their own spinning.[4]

4. Dan chhae jul normgi

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This game is called Dan chhae jul normgi (단체줄넘기). Two people who hold the rope will spin or swing it around, and a of group people representing the opponent group must jump up together at the same time so that the rope will be unable to touch their legs. If the spinners is unable to swing the rope due to the opponent’s legs, they will take turn as jumper and the opponent will come and swing the rope instead. [5]

5. Ch'ajon-nori

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This is a provincial game involving the entire community. Two dongchae ("ships" made from wood and old rice stalks), each born by several strong men and captained by one leader, repeatedly ram into each other. If a leader falls down or if the dongch'ae is allowed to touch the ground, the opposing side wins. [6]

6. Jul tagi

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Rather than simply walk from one end of the rope to the other, Korean tightrope walkers jump up and down, do somersaults, and tell jokes to the audience. Watch a video of it here![6]

7. Kite Flying

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Not just a children's past time, many older Koreans enjoy flying kites, especially on major holidays such as Ch'usok and the Lunar New Year. The traditional Korean kite (yon) is made with bamboo sticks and Korean paper.[6]

8. Geunetagi

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Korean women also enjoyed the Geunetagi, which is identical to a swing, during the Dano festival on the 5th of May according to the lunar calendar. Before the day of the Dano festival, the village people put up a swing on a high branch of a big tree, like a Zelkova or Jujube, located near the entrance to the village. The swing rope is always about 9 to 10 meters long. On a Geunetagi, the woman who reaches the highest altitude by rocking the swing back and forth becomes the winner of the game. Especially during the Choseon Dynasty, the lives of women were very depressing, so a Geunetagi, played on in an open space with many female friends and relatives, had a special meaning to the women. Also, as one of the oldest traditional folk games, the Geunetagi even served as the momentum behind a fateful meeting in the classic literature ‘Chunhyangjeon’ . In ‘Chunhyangjeon’, Leedoryeong, the hero, fell in love with Chunhyang, the heroine, at his first sight of her playing on a Geunetagi. Like this story, a Geunetagi was a popular amusement providing good chances and venues for finding love and improving friendships between Korean women.[8]

View a demo here!

9. Neolttwigi

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This is Korean ‘seesaw’ game. First, place a rolled-up straw mat under a long board called a “neol.” Traditionally, two girls played at a time by jumping at either end of the board. This game originated from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) when women, especially young girls, were confined to their homes. Folklore says the game developed out of the women’s desire to catch a fleeting glimpse of men passing outside their homes’ walls. New Year’s Day used to be the only time of year that girls could see over the courtyard walls. Thus the see-saw became a sport of love instead of physical exercise.

It looks very similar to a seesaw, but it requires perfect timing between the two persons to do it right. Neol is made with a sheaf of straw placed centrally under a thick, but slim and long wooden plank. A person gets on each end of the plank, and together the two people need to time their jumps to bounce each other high into the air. They take turns repearting this aiming to leap the highest. [7]

View a demo here!

10. Kongki Noli (Jacks)

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This traditional childhood game is similar to the American "jacks." Player 1 scatters five small stones on the ground. He then picks one up and tosses it in the air and quickly tries to pick up another stone in time to catch the one he just threw. Now he has two in his hand; he throws one of the stones up in the air, and picks up a third. This goes on until he has all the stones in his hand. In the second round, the player picks up two stones every time he throws one up. In the third round, he picks up three; four in the fourth, and the fifth time he picks them all up. For the game's last step, the player tosses all the stones in the air and tries to catch them on the back of his hand. Then he tosses them up again and tries to catch them in his palm. The number he catches is that player's score. If he fails to catch them all, it's the next person's turn. [9]


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuho
[2] http://theplaceswevebeen.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/korean-traditional-games/
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jegichagi
[4] http://news.mofat.go.kr/enewspaper/articleview.php?master=&aid=1743&ssid=23&mvid=626
[5] http://icametokorea.wordpress.com/category/korean-traditional-games/
[6] http://www.lifeinkorea.com/activities/traditional.cfm
[7] http://koreajjang.com/2010/05/15/korea-traditional-games/
[8] http://www.knutimes.com/news/article.html?no=660

[9] http://www.parents.com/fun/games/educational/games-from-around-the-world/