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Yutnori, Will it be Designated As National Intangible Cultural Asset
  • By Park Seong-eun,cub-reporter
  • 승인 2022.10.13 13:28
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▲ An appearance of Yut (Source: National Folk Museum of Korea)

Last September 26, the Cultural Heritage Administration notified previously that Yutnori would be designated as a National Intangible Cultural Asset, as it is a Korean traditional game. At present, the Cultural Heritage Administration has recognized the values of Yutnori and approved Yutnori would be designated as an asset. Therefore, as the last step, they said that they will collect opinions and feedback about Yutnori from all walks of life and wait for the final designation, after the Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee stage. National Intangible Cultural Asset is a designation for intangible cultural assets which is judged on the merit that the country has important, artistic, historical, and academic values, depending on the Cultural Properties Protection Law and are then designated to be protected. For here, Intangible Cultural Asset means, all cultural assets that cannot be materially preserved, such as music, dance, theater, craft technology, and play. Korea's major intangible cultural assets are: Jongmyo Jeryeak (Royal Ancestral Ritual Music in the Jongmyo Shrine), Yangju Byeolsandae Nori (Mask Dance Drama of Yangju), Ganggangsullae (Circle Dance), Nongak (Farmers' Performance), and Bongsan Talchum (Mask Dance Drama of Bongsan). What kind of cultural asset is Yutnori, that has the possibility of being designated as a National Intangible Cultural Asset?

Yutnori is a game in which men and women of all ages can use Yut, game equipment, and enjoy it from the beginning of the New Year until the 15th day of the Lunar calendar in January. In the early Joseon Dynasty, that word existed as, 'SaHee (柶戱)', and in the middle and late Joseon Dynasty, it was written in Chinese characters, 'CheokSa (擲柶)'. Therefore, until now, we can see the situation of writing a Yutnori competition in, 'CheokSa competition'. Yutnori is a game of dividing into two teams and throwing four Yuts. Also, it is a game where a player wins if all the horses on the yut board reach their destination first, depending on the state in which the yut is overturned and tilted. Yutnori has a completion form, such as Yin and Yang, and 28 numbers of celestial bodies, based on the Korean National Space Museum and Astronomical Museum. We can enjoy what we are doing on national holidays until now because Yutnori has been continuously passed down and maintained around family and village communities. Moreover, now that the Internet is developing, the game is played through the Internet and mobile communication, and we can now play Yut easily online. In a fast-paced social environment, existing traditional practices are valuable work. Especially, in terms of game equipment and playground progression method, Yutnori is a very special traditional game as compared to other board games, because of having a significant difference from other games.

Recently, 'Yutnori for the blind,' has been handed down among people without sight. There are a variety of ways of playing that are in existence today not only Yutnori, but, 'Dry Palace Yutnori,' which is played without a Yut board. Yutnori has a long history and has been under evaluation, that is its value, to be designated as a National Intangible Cultural Asset on the point of being passed down steadily throughout the generations in the Korean Peninsula. This is not the only point that Yutnori deserves to be designated as a National Intangible Cultural Asset. Historical records of Yutnori have been confirmed in various historical materials such as, The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty. We understand that it means that since the Joseon Dynasty, profound research about Yutnori has been conducted by attracting the attention of scholars. Scholar Kim Moon-pyo philosophically studied the symbols of the Yut board (Yut pan) and the movement of horses on the Yut board, and described 'The Apostle Theory (柶圖設)' in 'Junggyeongji (中京誌).' While practical scholar Lee Kyu-kyung, the late Joseon Dynasty insisted on, 'The expansion of Saheebyeon (柶戱辨證說)' in, 'Ojuyeonmunjangjeonsango (五洲衍文長箋散稿).' Yutnori has proven various values in that it is highly utilized as an academic research subject, including the symbolism of 'Do, Gae, Geol, Yut, and Mo,' which represent the formation of the Yut board and the pips (measure of value) of Yut. The Cultural Heritage Administration said, “Yutnori is very sustainable and can revitalize various transmissions. It has the characteristic of, 'luck play,' that relies on luck, and the variability that utilized the number of cases. In addition, it is expected to actively harness the characteristics of open play according to the surrounding situation,” he said, expecting a positive outlook on Yutnori.

Yutnori is part of our culture that plays a specific traditional game on a particular day throughout Korea, and a unique and meaningful game. However, considering that it is a part of our culture that is passed down throughout the Korean Peninsula, it has been designated as a community type that does not recognize specific holders or organizations. In the community type, there are Arirang (Korean folk song), Ssireum (Korean Wrestling), Kimchi Damgeugi (Kimchi Making), Jang Damgeugi (Korean Sauce and Paste Making), Ondol (Underfloor Heating), Hwalssogi (Archery), Tteok Mandeulgi (Tteok making and sharing), Insam Jaebae and Yakyong Munhwa (Cultivation of Ginseng and Its Medicinal Application), and Hanbok life, and more. The things related to history are highly likely to rise and fall into international problems, so we should not overlook the protection and preservation of our long-standing traditions. It will be our task to have a mind to protect and preserve not only Yutnori but also all of Korea's precious cultural assets and history, to ensure that they continue into the future.

By Park Seong-eun, cub-reporter

By Park Seong-eun,cub-reporter  pseun1017@naver.com

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