Baduk festival showcases best and brightest

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Baduk festival showcases best and brightest

More than 1,000 people attended a baduk event last weekend, part of the capital’s Car-Free Day campaign, near Gwanghwamun Square and Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.

The strategy-based board game, also known as Go, is especially popular in Korea.

The highlight of the event, however, was undoubtedly damyeongi, in which one professional player, moving from one table to another, engages in matches with many different beginning and amateurs players. One-hundred professional players participated in this year’s festival, some of whom gave free lessons to the event’s youngest attendees.

Professional baduk player Kim Seon-ho, 31, had high praise for 11-year-old Jeong Seong-su, a sixth-grade student from Dongin Elementary School in Guri.

“Considering how young he is, he makes few mistakes and stays calm. He has great potential for improvement,” Kim said.

The 31-year-old stretched the rules for the middle schooler ? their match lasted more than two hours ? and in the end, the 11-year-old emerged victorious.

“I don’t think he should be underestimated,” Kim added.

“I came early in the morning with my parents because I like playing baduk,” Jeong said. “I want to become a professional baduk player.”

Other participants also found the event to be a valuable experience.

“It was a rare opportunity for my daughter, who just recently started to learn baduk, to learn from a pro,” said Jo Hye-jeong, 33.

The event also included a photo exhibition commemorating the 70th anniversary of modern baduk in Korea, as well as meet-and-greets with Cho Hun-hyun, Kim Ji-suk and Choi Jung, professional baduk players and honorary ambassadors of the 2015 Seoul Car-Free Day campaign.

The line for autographs spanned 100 meters, and most of their fans brought their own baduk boards for the players to sign.

“It’s such a meaningful day,” said Cho, acknowledging the lack of cars in the normally bustling Gwanghwamun area. “I feel so grateful to the baduk fans who came out today.”

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and JoongAng Media Network Chairman Hong Seok-hyun, who is also the president of the Korea Baduk Association, hosted the opening ceremony.

KB Financial Group Chairman Yoon Jong-kyu also attended the event as a sponsor.

“I felt great when I watched the plays between the professional players and more than a thousand of baduk fans,” Hong said.

Mayor Park also expressed his gratitude to all the citizens who came to the event, promising a festival of similar or greater calibre next year, too.

BY YUN JUNG-MIN [koo.yurim@joongang.co.kr]

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