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A game competing the number of memorized traditional three-verse Korean poems, written in cards spread out on the floor. The literal meaning of Hwagatu is to compete with flower-like songs (or sijo, traditional three-verse poem)., indicating its aim of competing the number of memorized sijo. As some elders in their seventies remember playing Hwagatu in the past, the game was still clearly played widely following the liberation from the Japanese Occupation in 1945. Every remaining Hwagatu card is

Korean Folk Arts


Between the Old and New

Singugan (Kor. 신구간, Chin. 新舊間, lit. between the old and new) is the approximately one-week long period from the fifth day after the solar term Daehan (Kor. 대한, Chin. 大寒, Great Cold) to the third day before the solar term Ipchun (Kor. 입춘, Chin. 立春, Beginning of Spring). On Jeju Island, this is believed to be the only time when one can move or repair one’s house without any harmful consequences. According to folk belief, during this period between Daehan, the last seasonal term of an old year, and

Korean Seasonal Customs


New Year’s Flag Greetings

Gisebae (Kor. 기세배, Chin. 旗歲拜, lit. New Year’s flag greetings) is a custom observed during Jeongwol Daeboreum (Kor. 정월대보름, Great Full Moon Festival) with the purpose of praying for an abundant harvest. As its name implies, the custom involves the use of flags that are referred to as nongsingi (Kor. 농신기, Chin. 農神旗, lit. farming god flag). Gisebae is also known under other names such as nonggi sebae (Kor. 농기세배, Chin. 農旗歲拜, lit. greetings of farming flags), nonggi bbaetgi (Kor. 농기뺏기, Chin. 農旗-, lit.

Korean Seasonal Customs



A member of the nongak (farmers’ music) troupe dressed as a certain character who acts out various skits. Japsaek (Kor. 잡색, Chin. 雜色, lit. mixed colors) are referred to as the dwitchibae, the actors who lead a nongak performance along with apchibae, who play musical instruments, the bearers of different flags including the farming community flag (nonggi) and command flag (yeonggi), and the player of the double-reed oboe (saenapsu). The japsaek lead the second half of the performance (dwitgut) ra

Korean Folk Arts


General Nam I Ritual

Nam I Janggun Sadangje (Kor. 남이장군사당제, Chin. 南怡將軍祠堂祭, lit. service at the Shrine of General Nam I) refers to a ceremony that honors the memory of the famous general Nam I (1441-1468) of the early Joseon period (1392- 16th century). Nam I, a brave general who was accused of treason and executed, was deified and worshipped in the shamanistic faith of the central regions along with other illustrious military heroes of the past, such as Choe Yeong (1316-1388) and General Im Gyeong-eop (1594-1646). Th

Korean Seasonal Customs


Arrow Throwing

Tuho (Kor. 투호, Chin. 投壺, lit. throwing into a vase) is a game in which players are divided into two teams and throw arrows into a vase placed at a certain distance. The vases into which the arrows are thrown vary both in size and shape. The size of the arrows also differs, and each player is given a set of twelve arrows. Points are earned depending on the proximitiy of the arrow to the center of the vase. The game originated in China prior to the Han dynasty (BCE 206 - CE 220). It is mentioned i

Korean Seasonal Customs


Buckwheat Noodles with Seasoning

Goldongmyeon (Kor. 골동면, Chin. 骨董麵) is the name of a dish that consists of buckwheat noodles topped with slices of meat and vegetables and is eaten with a spicy sauce. The word goldong (Kor. 골동, Chin. 骨董) means a variety of ingredients that are mixed together. The seasoning originally was soy sauce-based, but today it is customary to make it from red pepper paste. Goldongmyeon is part of the culinary tradition of cold noodles, or naengmyeon (Kor. 냉면, Chin. 冷麵), popularly eaten in winter (particul

Korean Seasonal Customs