History Magazine

Make Christmas more festive with these Korean games!

So you’ve had your scrumptious and very filling Christmas dinner and have warmed up with some eggnog. After that, I can just imagine that you and your family might just be a little bit too lethargic and just end up with curling up in front of the fire or snuggling down to watch a movie.

But, why waste that Christmas cheer cooped up on a sofa when you can use all that Christmas energy from your Christmas roast and do something more fun with your family and friends? Not to mention, the extra laughing and hysterics can maybe drop a little Christmas calories, eh?

Here are some traditional and modern Korean games you can introduce to your family on Christmas to keep the festivities going!


A jegichagi looks like a badminton shuttlecock or a hackysack. The traditional jegichagi is made of a stone or flattened bottle caps and are wrapped around paper with its edges cut up in strips or other materials to make it look prettier.


Image Source: ©Hacky sack, Public Domain Pictures, 25.04.2014,

The way you play this is kicking the jegichagi with the side of your foot and to make sure you don’t drop it. In order to win, you have to kick it more times than your opponents.

Why is this game so much fun? Well, consider this game a more fun rock, paper, scissors. If your siblings are fighting over who has to clean the Christmas dishes, you can choose by whoever loses the jegichagi. You can basically make your own rules with this game for whoever loses and the only rule is not to drop it!

You can see how this game is played from this throwback video of SHINee’s Hello Baby!


Yunnori is a family board game usually played during festive and holiday seasons like New Year’s and Christmas. Yunnori is played using 4 sticks called yut, one side flat and the other rounded. One stick has an X on its flat side. You also have a board and a token piece.

To play this game, you’ll be playing against three others with each of your tokens at the start. In order to move your token, you have to throw the yuts that serve as the dice. You move your tokens based on the amount of flat sides that the yuts show when you throw them. However when all yuts show flat, you do not move a token but you get to throw again and then move according to how many flat sides you have. If the flat side with the X shows on throw, you move the token one step back. If all the yuts show the rounded sides, you can move your token five times!

The number of flat yuts showing up has a corresponding name as you can see from the picture below.


Image Source: ©Yunnori, Voluntary Agency Network of Korea, 23.03.2012,

You win when your token has managed to go all around the game board and return to the starting point. When your token overtakes another player’s token, they have to start the game all over.

Although this sounds confusing at first, but can you imagine the high spirits and laughter that comes with this game? Usually families and friends like to play in pairs per token which adds more to the fun! The game itself has its roots on Korean shamanism divination and they believe your win (or loss) in this game can predict your luck for the year!

Here’s a video with further instructions to play this game.

Di Bi Di Bi Dip

On to a more modern game, we have Di Bi Di Bi Dip. This game is played by two people and has different variations. The simple way of playing this is the leader points his outstretched hand vertically to his opponent, the leader says “di bi di bi dip” and can move their hand either to the left, right, upwards or downwards. The follower makes sure not to make their head follow where the hand is moving or else the leader wins. Players take turns in being the leader each time.

The leader has to make sure to say “di bi di bi dip” fast and surprise the follower in order to make them lose focus.

Other times, to make this more fun, the leader does bigger gestures like making a heart over their head, crossing their arms on their chest or even raising their arms and shaking them wildly. The point is to make the follower get taken aback and they end up following the leader unconsciously. The bigger the gestures, the funnier and exciting it becomes!

Sometimes, players add a penalty like hitting their opponent on the head with a pillow or toy hammer when they end up following their gestures and the losing player has to make sure to cover their head as it can get pretty outrageous, but in a fun way!

Watch another throwback video of this game played by the legendary Shinhwa!

Jero (Zero)

Once again generally played by two people, they face their two closed fists together leaving their thumbs free to stand up or the down. The rule of this game is for the leader to shout numbers from 0 – 4 and both leader and opponent has to move their thumbs up or keep them down. They win a point if the number called is the same number of thumbs raised. The players take turns in being leaders and you win if you can garner 5 points first.

Since you can’t control your own opponent’s thumbs, the leader has to hope that they can take their opponent off guard by making them raise (or lower) their own two thumbs according to the number the leader wants. This is once again a game with the element of surprise and distraction and could bring in laughter and utter entertainment not only for the players but the onlookers!

To make this game more fun, how about adding a bit of harmless punishment to the loser? More Christmas dishes perhaps?

Here, Youtubers, EatYourKimchi show us how to play the game!


Now that you know these Korean games, make sure you, yourself practice them at your own time so you can win against your family members and avoid washing all those dirty dishes and instead open your presents while your cousins do the scrubbing up! Happy washing, oh, I mean, Happy Christmas!

Jonacel Pandan

Aspiring writer and Asian pop culture fan. Often found bopping to K-pop or expecting K-drama episodes, loves to indulge in Korean cosmetic trends and fashion. If you ever need an online tour guide for Seoul, this is your girl!



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