Dukkeobijip Jitgi Nori
A game making cave-shaped houses by placing and patting wet dirt or sand over the back of one hand, and then slowly trying to remove it.
Also called, Moraejip Jitgi Nori, this iconic folk game of Korea has children making houses with dirt or sand. First, the player places wet dirt or sand on the back of one hand, and then pats the dirt with the other hand to mold it into a solid structure. The patting takes patience and attention since the hand below dirt needs to be remain still throughout the entire process in order to harden the dirt. As the player removes his or her hand slowly once the dirt becomes hard enough, then the small cave-like house is complete. Removing the hand, however, requires concentration so as to not cause the sand structure to crack or collapse upon carelessly removing it.
This game is called the Dukkeobijip Jitgi Nori as the children sing a song while patting the dirt that goes, “Mr. Toad, Mr. Toad! I’ll give you an old house, you give me a new one.” There are other songs sung while patting the dirt that feature other animals like magpies, snakes, storks, and cows. Many of the songs are about asking the toad and magpie animal totem for a new house. There is the likelihood that since the shape of the dirt houses look like the round back of a toad, the houses were often called toad houses, which led to children singing songs asking toads to build a new house. There are also many songs asking magpies to build a new house, as they known for being good nest builders. In fact, many kinds of animals that we find around us are mentioned in the lyrics. Regardless of the types of animals mentioned, every song reflects the children’s wish for building new, well-built, solid house.
Today, the Dukkeobijip Jitgi Nori is still considered the most common game using dirt, due to the easy accessibility of dirt or sand found in schoolyards or playgrounds. Also, both boys and girls can enjoy playing it alone. This meaningful folk game is continually passed down among generations, as children learn the songs and the game in a natural setting with their siblings and friends.