윷놀이 (Yut Nori, a traditional game)

In the U.S. we have Monopoly. In Korea, they have yut nori, which is a traditional Korean board game. It is often played during traditional holidays, such as Seollal and maybe Chuseok.

Yut nori consists of a board, four yut sticks, and small tokens or markers. These days the board (말판, mal-pan) is a rectangle that has four straight lines along the edges and two diagonal lines inside the rectangle. The yut sticks, which are traditionally wooden, are used like dice. And the small tokens are called mal (말, literally a “horse”) and can literally be anything–buttons, coins, pebbles–as long as there are two different colors.

Yut is usually played in teams with each team getting four tokens in their respective color. Team members take turns throwing the sticks and the number you can move your tokens is determined by the number of flat sides that are facing up (with the exception of having all round sides facing up, which is a five).

The first team to get all four of its tokens around the board wins. There are a couple of shortcuts you can take, but beware because the other team can bump off your tokens too.

It’s a fun game that can accommodate any number of players, since there is no limit on the number of people on a team. And the games can be pretty high-spirited. We saw several teams playing at the Liberation Day festival we went to in August, and played with the teens who do a Korean class for our adoptive families.

You can usually find yut nori sets at your local Korean market and they are pretty affordable. Or, if you don’t have a market nearby, you can make a set by following the directions on the The Learning Channel Web site. Here’s the address: http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/indoor-crafts6.htm. Just a caution, I believe the directions on this site are for a simplified version of the game. However, Wikipedia seems to have good, detailed directions about how to play and score the game. You can find those directions here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yut.

Our family highly recommends this game. Have fun!

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2 thoughts on “윷놀이 (Yut Nori, a traditional game)

  1. Pingback: Our Chuseok 추석 Celebration « Cora's Coming Home

  2. Pingback: DIY project: Yut nori board game « Korea on my mind

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