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by Emma Howes January 03, 2022 5 min read

Due to the immense popularity of the Netflix series Squid Game, more people are showing interest in the games played by the participants.

Fortunately, all children’s games in South Korea are not as dangerous as what we saw in the TV show.

If you are curious about these kids playing with their friends, here is a list for you!

Below are some popular and safe South Korean kids games you might want to try out with your friends.

12+ Popular South Korean Children's Games

Korean kids are posing in school
Korean kids are posing in school.

Hibiscus Has Bloomed

In the hit, Netflix series Squid Game, one of the first games introduced to the viewers was Red Light, Green Light.

But traditionally, South Koreans call it Hibiscus Has Bloomed (무궁화 꽃이 피었습니다).

As shown in the show, this game can be played with a group of people.

There will be a designated tagger whose back is facing the players.

The players will then shout the phrase “hibiscus has bloomed” as they slowly sneak behind the tagger.

Once the tagger faces the players, no one must not move, or else they will be disqualified and captured at the post where the tagger stands.

This will repeat a few times until someone taps the tagger’s back and the remaining players run to make it to the starting line.

The first player the tagger catches first during the chase will become the next round’s tagger.

Pretty fun and straightforward compared to Squid Game’s version!

Slap-Match Game

Ddakji also known as Ttakji is a traditional South Korea game
Ddakji also known as Ttakji is a traditional South Korea game

The slap-match game is the first game in the Squid Game, with Gong Yoo and Seong Gi Hun betting for it.

Koreans of all ages have played this game since the Joseon Dynasty.

It uses two flat sheets of colorful paper folded together, known as ddakji.

Ddakjis are pretty thick, making it hard to flip over, which is the point of the game.

One player leaves their ddakji on the ground as their opponent slaps it until it flips over or goes over the line.

Whoever has the most ddakjis wins!

Hitting Marbles

This game uses marbles made of ceramics or glass to hit other players’ marbles, throw them into a hole, and guess the exact number of marbles or if it is even or odd.

Hitting Marbles or guseulchigi is a game played in every region of South Korea.

Boys in the 1970s usually played this game, as they used clay to form marbles and dry them under the summer shade or simply pick stones from creeks.

Nowadays, marbles can be bought in most stationery stores around the country.

Jegichagi

Jegichagi is a form of hacky sack traditionally played by Korean boys during winter.

However, as time passed by, even young adults and middle-aged people have also played this game during their free time.

If you watch Korean variety shows like Running Man and Knowing Brothers, you can see some of their challenges include playing jegichagi.

To play this game, a player must kick the jegi up in the air as many times as possible.

It must not drop on the ground, or the counting will stop.

The one who has the most number of kicks wins.

You can play this individually, with a partner, or even with a group of friends.

Yutnori

Yutnori is a type of Korean board game that uses yut, a set of four wooden sticks.

Traditionally, yutnori is played between two teams during the Lunar New Year’s Day and Great Full Moon Festival.

There are two sides in every stick, flat and round, allowing them to roll on a flat surface.

With yut, there are five possible combinations: do (도), gae (개), geol (걸), yut (윷), mo (모).

These combinations decide how the sticks move around the board.

If you get a yut or mo combination, you can roll your stick again.

If your team’s piece lands on your opponent’s space, you must return to the start of the board and roll your stick again.

If you land on your own team’s space, the pieces inside can go together and be counted as one.

Spinning Top Game

This game uses a cylindrical wood sharpened on one end to spin on a solid surface.

Kids usually play with the spinning top when the ground is frozen during winter.

They let it spin on ice for as long as possible, hitting it carefully with a stick with a string on it to make its spinning last longer.

The player whose spinning top spins the longest wins.

Since then, many variations have emerged, and the face of the spinning top has changed.

A few of them include jjulpang that has a string wrapped around the wood, and then the blade inspired from the animated series Top Blade.

Korean children watching other kids playing
Korean children watching other kids playing.

Gonggi

Gonggi is played by throwing five small stones up in the air and catching them all together with your hands.

In the past, kids played this game with real stones, but it changed into small plastic balls as time progressed.

While the ways to play gonggi vary from one region to another, one rule remains the same: players have to go through five levels while playing.

You will have to start by putting five stones on a flat surface and throw one of them in the air as you grab the remaining four before the suspended stone falls.

Four turns to three, three to two, and two to one.

The player who could go through the five levels succeeds!

Juldarigi

Juldarigi is a sport similar to Western tug-of-war.

However, it has a history of being performed at community gatherings and festivals by South Korean agricultural regions of the past.

In this game, players use two rice-straw ropes with a peg at the center.

Two teams representing the two sides of the village compete against each other as they pull the big rope towards their space.

Historically, several religious rites were practiced before and after the juldarigi.

Ssireum

Ssireum is South Korea’s national sport, where its origins can be traced way back to the Three-Kingdom era.

The name was derived from the verb “ssireuda,” which means “holding out.”

In ssireum’s modern form, two contestants wearing a satba or belt around the waist and thigh get into the platform and attempt to bring their opponent’s knee down to the ground.

There are at least 55 techniques employed in playing the sport, including hand, leg, waist, and lifting approaches.

Hitting Tombstone

The goal of this traditional game is to knock down tombstones that are made of small pillar stones.

Kids love to play Hitting Tombstone between the spring and autumn seasons.

Tuho-nori

Tuho-nori is a traditional Korean game with a vibrant history and was used by royals during the Three-Kingdom era to the late Joseon dynasty to pass the time.

All you need to do is try to land an arrow inside a jar for this game.

Whoever throws the most number of arrows wins tuho-nori.

Kite Flying

Kite Flying or yeonnalligi typically commences during the Korean Lunar New Year.

South Korea’s traditional kite is made of rectangular bamboo pieces.

People write their wishes and aspirations for the new year and fly them.

Some even cut off their kite strings as a ritual to drive away negative energies that might come their way.

Honeycomb is another popular Korean game
Honeycomb is another popular Korean game

South Korea is full of colorful history.

With so many diverse recreational activities, it’s not surprising to see many enjoyable and traditional games for kids.

And they are safe for your children, for you with no money engaged.

So it could be fun to try them out!

And you, what do you think about it?

Which of these games do you want to check out?

Ping us on Twitter, and let’s talk about your thoughts!

Emma Howes
Emma Howes

She is a huge League Of Legends gamer and passionate about Asian different cultures.



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