Sumbakkokjil

 

Sumbakkokjil (hide-and-seek) is a Korean folk game with a long history.

The translated version of Pakthongsa compiled in the period of Koryo (918-1392) and other books compiled later have records of the game.

Pakthongsa was a textbook for foreign language education at that time. This tells that it was a children's game played widely enough to be recorded in such a linguistic textbook during the Koryo dynasty.

In modern times following the period of the feudal Joson dynasty (1392-1910) the game was played in a more diversified manner.

The game used to go by various names in different regions.

The Korean word sumbakkokjil was derived from the way the game is played. In the game a child set as a seeker tries to spot the other children.

Generally the game was played a lot in a yard around a house or in a wide open space of a village on a full-moon night in summer.

The seeker, who is on the last of turns counted or loses in the scissors-stone-cloth, leans against a tree or rock set as the position and, with his eyes closed, counts numbers, while other children disperse and hide themselves.

After counting, the seeker looks for the hiders. When he finds out a child, the seeker returns to his position and touches it with his hands or feet, naming the child loudly. Then the identified child "dies." The child, who is found out by the seeker, does not "die" if he runs and touches the seeker's position before the seeker can. And when a hider reaches the position successfully unseen by the seeker, he remains "alive."

Both those found out by the seeker and those remaining alive stand around the position and cheer for the remaining hiders, singing the following verse.

   Hide yourselves well lest you should betray hair.

   Hide well, the seekers approaching you.

The game comes to an end when all the hiders come out.

Then the "dead" children play scissors-stone-cloth and decide the seeker, and the game is repeated.

It is a good game for children to foster their observation and circumstantial judgment and agility.

While thinking how and where they should hide or watching where and how they hide, children develop their intelligence.

Whenever children play the game in a village, their singing and pleasant laughs resound throughout the village.

While playing the game children deepen their friendship and promote harmony.

The tradition of the game is carried on. Kindergartens and primary schools teach children how to play the game during extracurricular activities or the playing time. And the game is introduced through Korean Central Radio or television or other kinds of mass media.

The pleasant and interesting folk game of children was put on the list of national intangible cultural heritage.

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