Traditional Korean Games

Traditional Korean Games can be literally translated as Jeontongnori, in Korean. Koreans enjoyed many
different games throughout korea’s long history. They played these games to communicate and spend
time with their family, friends, relatives and even neighbors. Playing these games helped create bonds betweenplayers. Today, many games are still played by Koreans and even foreigners. Most popular games are: Ganggang Sulrae, Jegichagi, Neolttwigi, Ssireum, Tuho and Yunnori.

Ganggang Sulrae

Ganggang Sulrae is a game reserved only for women. Women dance and sing a song, called Ganggang Sulrae
which is the same as the game’s name in which they hold each other’s hand in a circle. This was played especially on the traditional Korean holiday, Chuseok which is similar to Thanksgiving Day in American Culture.


Neolttwigi is a seesaw play and it is a girls’ game. Girls stand on the seesaw and play. There is a slightly bit different rule for this in comparison to the western one. It is believed that it started as a way tosee over the family’s high garden wall because women in the past couldn’t go out from their house frequently.


Jegichagi is played especially by children. They make Jegi with a paper and coin or small rock which
looks similar to a shuttlecock. The rule is simple and easy. You play shuttlecock with your feet.


Ssireum is a form of traditional wrestling. It was mainly played by men. It is a type of folk competition in
which two players, holding on to a satba (a cloth-sash tied around the waist) try to use their strength and various techniques to wrestle each other to the ground. It became a sports game in the modern times. On traditional Korean holidays such as Seolnal(the Lunar New Year Day), Koreans like to watch Ssireum Tournament on TV.


Tuho was one of the popular games played between royal families and high class people. The rule is simple.
It is similar to the game of horseshoe, in which participants attempt to throw arrows into a pot or container.


Yunnori is a very popular game, especially on Lunar New Year’s Day among traditional Korean holidays. On these days, Koreans play this game in hope to continue strong family ties. It is believed that it originated from ancient times (before the Three Kingdom period: Baekje,Goguryeo and Silla Kingdoms which was between B.C. 57 to 668). Yunnori is loved by many Koreans because it can be played by people from all ages and while playing it, one can find oneself laughing with one’s family without even noticing.

How to play Yunnori

Yunnori can be played with four yuts, round pieces and a playing board. The rule is as follows: Yuts are pieces of wood sticks shaped like a half-moon. Players throw yuts and count yuts with their flat sides up. If one of them is upward, we call it Do, if two are up it is called Gae, three are Geol and four are Yut. And if all of the yuts’ flat sides face down, it is called Mo.

Players can move their round pieces on the playing board according to how many of their yuts face  upward. And in  the case of Mo, which means none of yuts’ flat side is upward, the player can move five times, which is the largest. In case of Mo and Yut, the player can throw once more and move round
pieces two times a turn. If your team’s round pieces catches other team’s one, you can play once again. In the situation where one flat side where XXX is engraved fakes upward, you should move your round pieces one step back. The team whose round pieces are the first to go around the checkboard wins.

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