Yeonnalligi (Kor. 연날리기, Chin. 鳶-, kite flying) is a popular folk game played in winter. The frame of the kite is made with thin bamboo pieces, and the kite is controlled by winding and unwinding its string around a reel. The oldest surviving record concerning kite flying is found in the biography of Kim Yu-sin (595-673) in the “Samguk Sagi” (Kor. 삼국사기, Chin. 三國史記, History of the Three Kingdoms, 1145). Historically, kites were flown for military purposes. In ancient documents and books, kites are referred to as jiyeon (Kor. 지연, Chin. 紙鳶), pungyeon (Kor. 풍연, Chin. 風鳶), bangyeon (Kor. 방연, Chin. 放鳶) or punggeum (Kor. 풍금, Chin. 風禽). Among these names, jiyeon was the most widely used.
Kites are classified according to their shape and surface motifs into more than one hundred categories. Bangpaeyeon (Kor. 방패연, Chin. 防牌鳶, lit. shield kite), a rectangular-shaped kite with a round hole in the middle, is the most common type. The kite-flying season begins in the twelfth lunar month and reaches its peak toward the Great Full Moon Festival (Jeongwol Daeboreum, Kor. 정월대보름, first full moon of the year). On New Year’s Day, people gather to fly kites in open areas outside villages or by the shore at low tide. They usually gather for kite-flying after having made New Year’s greetings to family members and relatives, and after conducting memorial services. Releasing a kite by cutting its string is believed to ward off misfortune that may lie ahead in the upcoming year. This custom was generally observed after welcoming the moon on the evening of Jeongwol Daeboreum. Kite fliers sometimes compete with each other by cutting their opponent’s line or flying their kite higher than the others.