Game – Korean

??? – Korean seesaw


Joanne learned this Korean traditional game from her grandma when she was 7 years old during a traditional New Year’s Day celebration.  She was at her grandma’s house celebrating the New Year and listening to her grandma tell stories of her childhood.  Of the stories, the most memorable one was about how she used to jump on the Korean seesaw with her friends on New Year’s Day.  Because girls were forbidden from participating in games with men, the women celebrated the new year by playing nol-ttwigi.

Similar to regular seesaws, nol-ttwigi requires the use of a long board with participants on each side.  However, unlike seesaws, the participants do not sit on the board but rather stand on the edges.  As one partner jumps on the board, the other is forced up.  Because the individuals are both standing up, it creates a thrilling experience as they are tossed into the air.  This game played an important role for women in the old days because it allowed them to experience excitement and action without disobeying the strict rules society placed on women.  According to Joanne’s grandma, women in previous times were prohibited from leaving the gates of their homes and were restricted to living within the walls of their houses.  As a result, nol-ttwigi was a blessing to their lives for it allowed them to see past the walls of their confinement.  Each time they were pushed up by their partner on the other side, they were able to catch a glimpse of the outside world.  Therefore, nol-ttwigi became a popular game among women for it provided females with a temporary entrance into the outside world.  It has since been established as a traditional game in Korea and is played during holidays and special occasions.

Annotation: Koh, Frances M. Korean Games. Eastwest Press: 1997.

In this book of Korean games, the author describes the traditional game of nol-ttwigi.