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'Yutnori' makes Intangible Cultural Heritage list

Yutnori sticks, called
Yutnori sticks, called "yutgarak" (National Folk Museum of Korea)

A popular traditional board game has been made a state-designated Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Yutnori is a board game in which players compete to move their tokens around the board by throwing four wooden sticks into the air and advancing a number of spaces depending on which way up the sticks land. The game is the 16th item on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage list that does not recognize a specific person or group, the Cultural Heritage Administration said Friday.

Yutnori is traditionally played on the first day of the Lunar New Year and Jeongwol Daeboreum, a traditional holiday celebrating the first full moon of the Lunar calendar.

Kim Jun-geun's Korean folk painting of people playing yutnori (Soongsil University's Korean Christian Museum)
Kim Jun-geun's Korean folk painting of people playing yutnori (Soongsil University's Korean Christian Museum)

While there are references to yutnori in The Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty, an annual record of state affairs kept from 1392 to 1865, some historians believe yutnori can be traced to jeopo -- a game popular during Baekje Kingdom (18 BC-AD 600) that involved the use of a wooden dice.

Yutnori is based on Korean people’s understanding of the universe and astronomy -- the yin and yang and the 28 constellations. The basic rule of the game is simple and intuitive, making it easy to learn, although there are some regional variations.

Tteok making and sharing, tidal flat harvesting and hanbok culture are some of the recent additions to the same Intangible Cultural Heritage list.



By Kim Hae-yeon (hykim@heraldcorp.com)
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