About Korea > Customs and Traditions

Traditional Board-Card Games

Traditional Board-Card Games

GoStop - 고스톱 (also known as Godori -고도리 is a flower card game. Flower cards were invented in Japan, possibly in order to circumvent laws against playing with conventional 4-suited card decks. Nowadays, however, it is in Korea that games with flower cards are most popular. The best known Korean flower card game is Go Stop, which like most Japanese flower card games is a fishing game. Players capture cards from a central layout by playing a card of the same month (flower). The aim is to collect scoring combinations among the cards captured. When a player's captures have a sufficient value, the player can stop the game and claim payment, or can continue the game (go) in the hope of winning more, but risking that an opponent will win meanwhile. It is this decision to stop or go that gives the game its name. To properly play the game, cards should be slapped down when playing them.

Baduk/Paduk - 바둑 is the Korean name for what is known as Go in English. This game is particularly popular with middle-aged and elderly men – there’s even a TV channel dedicated to the game. A strategic board game for two players, it is noted for being rich in strategic complexity despite its simple rules. The two players alternately place black and white stones on the vacant intersections of a line grid. The objective of the game is to control a larger part of the board than one’s opponent. To achieve this, players strive to place their stones in such a way that they cannot be captured, while mapping out territories the opponent cannot invade without being captured. Placing stones close together helps them avoid capture by enabling them to capture attacking stones before they are themselves captured, whereas placing them far apart influences more of the board. Part of the strategic difficulty of the game stems from finding a balance between such conflicting interests. Players strive to serve both defensive and offensive purposes, and choose between tactical urgency and strategic plans. The game ends, and the score is counted when both players consecutively pass on a turn, indicating that neither side can increase its territory or reduce its opponent's.

Janggi - 장기 (also romanised as changgi, jangki, and tjyangkeui) is the Korean name for a strategic board game that is widespread in Korea and sometimes referred to as Korean chess. Janggi is sometimes fast-paced due to the jumping cannons and the long range elephants, but professional games most often last for over 100 moves and is thus most often slower than western chess. Also, while in Western chess battle is concentrated in the middle few rows for the bulk of the game, in janggi the battle seems to be fought simultaneously all over the board.

Yutnori - 윷놀이 is a Korean traditional board game played in family gatherings, especially during Korean New Year and Thanksgiving. “Yut/” refers to the four sticks used in the “nori/놀이” , which means game. Yutnori consists of the Yut (four sticks), the Mal, (tokens) and the Mal-pan (game board). How the yut fall when cast determines how far a token can be advanced. The score is based on number of yut that are over or up. Each combination has its own name (Do, Gae, Gul, Yut and if all the yut are facing up, Mo) and its own value with Do allowing the Mal to be moved one space through to Mo, which allows an advance of five spaces. The player to bring all her/his mals home first is the winner.

Note: To see some of the games described above, go to the K4E video section (K4E homepage)

K4E Editor: Korea4Expats want to provide the most accurate and complete information possible, so if you notice an error or omission in the contents above, please contact us at info@korea4expats.com.

Last Updated on 2013-12-12

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