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Korean Games

Updated on January 8, 2015

Korean Outdoor Board Games

Korea holds fast to several traditional games that are different than anything we have in America.

The game of Yut Nori is an outdoor board game with a huge where four halved, round sticks are thrown up into the air. The score is determined according to the position of the sticks. Yut nori is usually played from Lunar New Year's Day until the first full moon occurs after the holiday. It is the most common Korean game played in the month of the year. Family, neighbors, friends and villages come out to play it. Other times of the year, a smaller inside game is used. I have played this game and it can be a lot of fun.

The old and new Korea together on Geoga Island, South Korea.
The old and new Korea together on Geoga Island, South Korea. | Source

Korean Kites Game

Kites are flown traditionally from the first through the fifteenth days of the first lunar month of the New Year. If the kite string is ceremonially cut, it represents castg out of Bad Luck in the new year. The kite that flies the longest wins a prize.

The oldest record of kite flying involves Silla Dynasy's famous General Kim Yusin who piloted a Turtle Ship (one of the first armored ships in the world) -- in 647AD, he hung a burning straw scarecrow from a big kite and flew it over the enemy's barracks to frighten them, set fires, and win a battle. He did many bold preemptive strikes of this nature, often against great odds when he was outnumbred and outgunned.

Korean Mass Games - Largest Choreographed Gymnastics in the World

Korean Traditional Tug of War

People's Tug of War

This game comes traditionally from Yeongsan, South Gyeongsang Province. Villagers divide into teams by gender, men agasint woman on New Year's Day.

A victory by the women signals a very good harvest for that year!

This game belongs to rice growing cultures like China and other Asian rice produces; and, for Korea, it was usually conducted south of the Han (The People's) River.

The tug of war rope represents the blue dragon, which brings rain from the sky. People believe that they can extract a good harvest by pulling the rope.

And it is fun!

Mice Burning Game

Traditionally, this game burns the rice paddies to chase away wild rats, mice, and unwanted insects that can detroy the carops. It is done on the First Full Moon Day of the New Year. It is done in the 21st century only with strict watchfulness of local fire departments.

Burning also warms all of the the frozen fields and to allow seeds to sprout readily. Fire cans bored on the side and attached to long wire ropes.

Dry tree branches and pine needles are stufed into the cans and lit. The flaming cans are swirled around with the wire ropes. Boys are chosen to swirl the cans, and the fire makes round circles in the darkness of night and makes quite a spectacle.

The boys throw the cans into the fields, where they burn out and detroy the remaining frost. The burnt roughage fertilizes the earth and increases harvests.

Korean folk and traditional games are both useful and entertaining. Several dozen of them exist.

Traditional Korean Royal Court Style Archery Competition from 2007

© 2008 Patty Inglish


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      It is certainly a fascinating land! - thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      Stickculture(Nickname) 6 years ago

      I'm Korean! I'm glad to see this page! We Koreans love our country.

    • profile image

      Shaqueela 7 years ago

      My korean friend told me about a game, she gave me five, my dogs chewed up three and now i want more but i can't find the game anywhere online. my friend died and i can't ask her for more. I NEEEED HEEEEEEEELP! Please post a website that i can find them!! :(

    • profile image

      Mai 9 years ago

      I've been in S.Korea already and I attest that my experience there was certainly unforgetable. I tried playing their "tough" board games and tug of war. You see unity when they play and everyone is happy. Emmersing with such people is great!!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I hope you do see some of these. There are several other games and ceremonies as well, and you can bring us back good stories about them. Please enjoy your trip immensely.

    • kalynna profile image

      kalynna 9 years ago from White Plains, NY

      What an interesting Hub. I am traveling to S. Korea this summer to attend the World Tae kwon do Culture Expo. Wonder if I'll see any of these?

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      They are unique and fascinating, and most people here never get to see them. Some ere done for demos at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, but sadly not broadcast on TV. There is so much that is beautiful in the world if we could find it! - I think that's why it's just a different world when we have the Olympics to watch.

    • sminut13 profile image

      sminut13 10 years ago from singapore

      wow these are all so interesting. thanks for such an informative hub.