Janggi a national ICH element

May 21, 2024

In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, there are many folk games that reflect the wisdom, intelligence and rich emotions of the nation. One of them is janggi, or Korean chess, which has been enjoyed by the Korean people since ancient times.

As it mirrors the emotion, taste and sentiments of the Korean nation, janggi takes an important part in the cultural and emotional life of its people.

Chess pieces, called kung(king), cha(chariot), pho(cannon), mal(horse), sang(elephant), jol(solider) and sa(guard), show that the board game was created after social and class differentiation took place and the ruling machinery called a state was established. 

The game is said to have been developed by army generals in the course of studying tactics and enhancing their command ability in ancient times. Hence the name janggi. Its pieces were octagonal in shape representing the vast stretches of land and thick forests. The colours of the chess pieces were red and blue to distinguish between the two sides as the forests looked blue from the ground and the ground looked red from the forests.

Historical records say that Korean chess dates back to the mid-5th century, but its origin is believed to be much earlier.

As it was simple in constitutional system and playing mode and unique and profound in the combination of moves, janggi was gradually spread widely among the people.

Over time it has evolved on the basis of scientific principles in conformity with the sentiments, taste and spirit of the Korean people.

The Korean board game with a long history still has positive influence on intellectual and personality development of the people.

Janggi, a good companion for the emotional life of the people, has been put on the national intangible cultural heritage list.


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