[FOUNTAIN]Baduk sees revival in Korea, ChinaDuring the time of Confucius, “go,” a game better known as baduk in Korea, must have been a pastime for people at leisure.
In the Analects, Confucius wrote, “If you eat your fill but do not use your mind, you cannot call yourself a human. At least, there is the game of go to keep you busy. Playing go is better than doing nothing.”
Many go players say that the appeal of the game is the clarity of the go board. On the square board of nineteen horizontal and vertical stripes, two players alternate placing black and white stones on the board. It does not matter whether you seek a profound philosophy or play it for fun. However exciting or dull a game might be, the meaning of life, after all, can be found by spending three or four hours contemplating the next move by following an uncertain path.
The once ubiquitous go houses can no longer be found in the neighborhoods, but the emergence of online go made the game more accessible to a wider demographic. Today, Korean professional players are ranked at the top in the world, infusing go fans with pride. Recently, Lee Se-dol surprised China when he defeated Chang Hao and won the second Toyota & Denso Cup World Tournament. Mr. Lee is the latest of the three Korean players to whom Mr. Chang lost. Therefore, the shortcoming in the game that China takes pride in must have shocked go fans.
After the game, Mr. Lee saved Chang’s pride by saying, “I won the match, but Mr. Chang was a better player. I have to study harder to improve my techniques.” Go is not a game you play alone. It is like looking at yourself in a mirror. Lee has learned and proved a wise tactic that a good go player has to be modest. His unassuming attitude confirmed that go is an art that is beyond the meaningless power contests between China and Korea.
Go is a spiritual game and a sport for the brain. The Korea Baduk Association appropriately demands the game to be recognized as a sport. China, with its 1.3 billion population, began the campaign to revive go. With a population of 50 million, Korea has made a breakthrough as a leader in the game among the three countries of go. We should not hesitate to educate the second and third Lee Se-dol’s for the future. We would like to have more Koreans that make the profound game of go more beautiful and powerful.
by Chung Jae-suk
The writer is a deputy culture news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
More in Columns
A cautionary tale
A government in disarray
China’s thin skin
The Korean War from China’s view
Who’s laughing now?