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Yut nori (윷노리) is a traditional Korean game played on New Years. In Korea, New Years is a holiday that lasts roughly three days. Technically speaking the official New Years is designed as January 26th of this year. That’s because on the lunar calendar, the new year begins on the 26th of January. Sometime during the New Years celebrations, Korean families have this tradition of spending time by playing traditional games. The most popular game is Yut nori (윷노리).
This game is really interesting. First off, this game is often hand made. The board on which the game is played is really not a board at all. It’s a piece of cloth with some markings on it. It’s so inexpensive that families of all income levels can participate. The board, or rather the cloth is called malpan (말판). The markings on the malpan (말판) indicate stations. Before I get into that, you’ll need a mal (말) or a board piece. The board piece can be made of anything. It can be a button, some coins, marbles, rocks, etc. Anything goes.
Next, you’ll need four sticks. These sticks need to be a particular shape. You can either carve some wood by hand or buy them. Each stick has to have a flat side and a round side. Here’s the interesting part: whether the sticks face up or down determine the number of stations the player can move. First you toss the sticks in the air and let the sticks fall to the ground. If three sticks have the flat side facing down and only one out of the four sticks have the flat side facing up, this is called do (도). The particular positions of the sticks are named after animals. In this case do (도) means pig. A do (도) allows a player to move one space.
When two out of the four sticks have the flat side facing up and the other two have the flat side facing down, this is called ge (개) or dog. Ge (개) is worth two spaces. If one stick has the flat side facing down and the other three sticks have the flat side facing up, it’s called gol (걸) or sheep. Gol (걸) is worth three spaces. If all four sticks have the flat side facing up, this is called yut (윷). Yut means cow and is worth four spaces. If all four sticks have the flat side facing down, it is called mo (모) or horse. This is worth five spaces.
The first person to reach the end is the winner. This game can be played by all ages. If you like making crafts you might also enjoy making this game as well. Whenever I play this game with my cousins it always turns into a family war! No, I’m just exaggerating, but it can get pretty competitive. At least with this game I don’t go to jail or have to forfeit my property as I have to do in Monopoly. Yeah I know it’s just a game, but when that happens I always get so stressed out!
Wanna see how it’s played? Here’s a youtube video about it: