Here are some fun Korean games to play with friends indoors and outdoors. These games are traditional Korean games that even your fave K-pop idols love to play.
Being stuck in your homes for the most part of the past two years, you must have found yourself running out of ways by which you can keep yourself entertained.
From whipping up new banana bread and coffee recipes in the kitchen to spending hours, scrolling through Tiktok and finding the right set of people to play ludo with, we clearly exhausted most of our more apparent options in the very first lockdown.
Besides, I’m sure it isn’t just me who gets fascinated by the games that our Kpop stars are seen playing in youtube videos and television interviews.
This bandwagon is definitely something I have been irking to get on!
Now I’m sure, all of us gaming enthusiasts out there have spent a considerable number of hours playing Among Us or The League of Legends which definitely are some of the most famous mobile games that emerged from South Korea during the pandemic.
But how many of us really know how to play some of the traditional South Korean games that have been enjoyed by scores of generations?
Top Korean Games To Play With Friends 2022
Let’s get right into explaining the games that arose to fame through television and other traditional games that continue to stick around regardless of the time and age.
This family board game is traditionally played on the first day of the Lunar New Year.
An explanation of Yut nori as a folk game would include a bet taken up by villagers to raise five different kinds of livestock, namely, pigs, dogs, sheep, cows and horses. Each villager must pick one kind of livestock to raise.
The game essentially involves a board, 4 ‘Yut Sticks’ and 8 small tokens. The board is called Malpan, historically circular made out of stitched cloth.
It consists of the marking of a rectangle with two diagonal lines drawn within. These markings indicate stations.
Off late, the shape of these boards have become rectangular with materials such as paper, plastic and wooden sheets used to manufacture the same.
The Yut Sticks are used as dice, flat on one side and rounded on the other. Made out of Chestnut or Birch wood, it reduces the weight of these sticks and produces a fresh sound while playing.
‘Mal’ or the small tokens are in the form of coins, buttons, small pebbles and chess beads.
However, there is no compulsion on the form as long as they are of two different colours to represent the two teams.
Usually made using black and white coloured plastic tokens, they can be made using other materials as well.
The main aim of this game is to return all your tokens back to the start or to stop on one of the corner squares you can take a shortcut. The implications of different results on rolling the dice (in this case, yut sticks) are as follows:-
- 1 stick facing upwards (This is called ‘Do’): Move one place.
- 2 sticks facing upwards (This is called ‘Gae’): Move two places.
- 3 sticks facing upwards (This is called ‘Geol’): Move three places.
- 4 sticks facing downwards (This is called ‘Yut’): Move four places and an optional bonus throw.
- 4 sticks facing upwards (This is called ‘Mo’): Move five places and an optional bonus throw.
Another fun winter pastime played by many around the Lunar New Year is Jegichagi or a form of hacky sack.
This game involves kicking a jegi or a coin with a hole in the middle and wrapped using a silk cloth known as hanji with your foot.
The ends of the silk cloth used to wrap the jegi is threaded into the hole in the middle and torn into tassels. There are multiple ways of playing this game.
Some of the variations include Ttaggangaji where the foot used to kick the jegi touches the ground after every kick, Eogichagi where both feet are used to kick the jegi consecutively, Heollaengi where the foot used to kick the jegi must be remain mid air at all times.
Generally, one of these very many variations are played by individuals or in groups. However, some that are spoiled by the multiple alternatives like me, play this game using different variations spaced out in multiple rounds.
Personally, I felt that this game doesn’t just improve one’s focus but also increases their physical fitness.
I noticed that my leg muscles were constantly at work and if you’re a fan of the infamous leg workouts at your gym, this is just the game for you!
Being a game that purely tests your skills rather than leaving things to your luck, this surely is one game which you truly need to develop a knack for to master!
Cockfighting (닭싸움 | dakssaum)
A physical competition where each player stands on one leg, grabbing their hands around their other ankles, hopping around with the singular motive of knocking the opponents off balance is the basic premise of this game.
The last man standing quite literally emerges the winner at the end of it all. Cockfighting, as silly as it may sound, is weirdly fun to play.
I find this game particularly more fun than most others. Knocking other players down whilst putting on a fight with your mortar skills with just one foot being planted on the floor truly is an adventure sport on its own.
So if you’re bored along with your friends with no fun games to play and no special resources to equip other games, this surely should be your go to game!
Squid Game(오징어 게임):
I know what you’re thinking, yes, this is the name of that show nobody could stop talking about in 2021. Where did that oh-so-popular Netflix show get its name from, you may ask? From an old Korean game!
A squid-shaped outline is drawn and the attacker must hop on one foot until they reach the middle of the squid and the defenders are allowed to move around on both feet but then continuing in the game is contingent on not getting dragged on bounds by the attacker.
The attacker must regain his/her strength and successfully reach the head of the squid shaped outline to win the game.
You’re lying if you say that you aren’t curious to know how this game is played and actually experience it.
Regardless the age, this is just the game you want to get behind to spruce up a lazy Sunday afternoon!
Knitting Thread(실 뜨기):
Knitting Thread? Come up with a less obvious name maybe?
You’ve probably already cooked up a mental image of how exactly this game must look! It is essentially the same as Cat’s Cradle.
For the uninitiated, Cat’s Cradle is a game played using a thread tied to form a loop. This string is then wrapped around a player’s hand while the other attempts to form various shapes.
Each level has fixed shapes and the same requires fixed steps to follow in order to achieve the same. It requires just one string of thread to play this game. Although it seems simple, one wrong move can loosen or tangle the entire loop.
This game isn’t just one that you’d find boys and girls secretly playing under their desks to get through a boring class in school, it also couples as a memory game which will surely test your gray cells!
I for one am quite the master at this game and I can assure you a good time if you do venture into learning a few of the patterns famously knit in this game.
What are traditional Korean games and why are they so popular?
Much like other culturally rich countries in Asia, the South Korean peninsula is one with deep rooted traditions that still manage to prevail along with modern toys and games.
Traditional games played are intertwined with old folk beliefs; Driven by agriculture as a profession, Korean people have had strong beliefs in gods that protect their nature.
These games have been in existence for decades now but it only started gaining traction with the rise of Kpop and Kdramas doing the rounds far and wide through the internet.
More people have become curious about what their favorite korean stars are playing in famous variety shows and dramas.
Lockdown or no lockdown, it’s never a bad time to gather your friends and family around you and play a bunch of games to have a good time.
Let your inner child out and experience these games with anyone near and dear!