Paengi chigi (Kor. 팽이치기) refers to top spinning, a favorite winter pastime for children in traditional Korea. They usually spun tops on ice-covered surfaces. In the “Yeogeo Yuhae” (Kor. 역어유해, Chin. 譯語類解, Categorical Analysis of the Chinese Language Translation), published during the reign of King Sukjong (1661-1720), and the “Hancheong Mungam” (Kor. 한청문감, Chin. 漢淸文鑑, Manchu-Korean Dictionary) that appeared during the reign of King Jeongjo (1752-1800), paengi (Kor. 팽이, top) is spelled pingi (Kor. 핑이). The word pingi appears to be a derivative of pingping (Kor. 핑핑), describing spinning movements. It is likely that up until the late 17th century, paengi was referred to as pingi, and that it was later replaced by the word paengi.
There are regional variations in the name for the top. In Pyeongan Province, paengi is called seri (Kor. 세리) or seru (Kor. 세루), in Hamgyeong Province, bongae (Kor. 봉애) or bangae (Kor. 방애); in Gyeongsang Province it is sometimes referred to as ppaengi (Kor. 뺑이) or pingding (Kor. 핑딩), in Jeolla Province, as ppaengdori (Kor. 뺑돌이), and in Jeju Island, as doraegi (Kor. 도래기).
Although there are several ways of playing this game, the top is usually spun around its central axis. The game can be played by single or multiple players. If it is played competitively, the object is to keep the top spinning as long as possible. The venue for the game is most often an ice-covered stretch of a house yard or a neighborhood alley. It can also be played on the frozen surface of a river, pond, or a rice paddy.