Thursday, 13 December 2007

The Korean Hwatu

Hwatu (Hwa-tu) is the Korean version of the Japanese playing card game Hanafuda. The cards were brought into Korea in the early 1900, but both the deck and game have now become a part of the Korean tradition. The name Hwatu is translated into English as "flower cards".

A deck of Japanese Hanafuda cards

The Hwatu deck has 48 cards, divided into 12 suits each named for flowers or plants during a month of the year; each suit contains four cards, one for each season. The deck is also smaller in size than the normal Western deck. Older traditional versions of the deck is made of thick cardboard, thus making the small sized deck thicker.

The game played with these cards is often referred to as
Godori or Go-stop. I am sure you've heard of Go-stop if you are a k-drama fan. I think eight out of 10 dramas have the card game featured in it! (don't you agree?)

Two popular games that you can play with a Hwatu deck are Go-stop and Sotda. Both games can be used to gamble, the latter, i learned from watching the movie "Tazza: The High Rollers".

The Korean deck has 48 suit cards plus 6 extra cards.

A deck of Korean Hwatu cards

The Suit Cards: There are 12 suits, each with four cards, and each suit represents a flower or plant and a month of the year.

January - PINE (Sol)
February - PLUM BLOSSOM (MaeJo)
March - CHERRY BLOSSOM (Sakura)
April - WISTERIA (HukSaRi)
May - IRIS (NanCho)
June - PEONY (MokDan)
July - BUSH CLOVER (HungSaRi)
August - MOON (PalGong)
September - CHRYSANTHEMUM (GukHwa)
October - MAPLE (Pung)
November - PAULOWNIA (Dung)
December - RAIN (Bi)

Do you know how to play Go-stop? Do you own a deck of Hwatu cards? I read somewhere that if you fly Korean Air, you can find the hwatu on board.

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gailT said...

when we flew with korean air in 2006, we got western playing cards. didn't know about hwatu... on my next trip, i forgot to ask about cards because i don't normally play.

Liz said...

The cards are so cute and pretty! I want!

ladida said...

I wonder if the hwatu gaming concept is similar to go fish? boy, i'd luv to collect december - Rain (bi) ;->

Dottie said...

Aren't these the ones Samsoon played with Henry???

Doralee said...

They always play Go-Stop in the K-dramas I watch. It would be nice if someone could teach how to play the game. Want to understand the game.

Orchid said...

Dottie, yeah these are the cards Samsoon played with Henry. They played Go-stop.

Also, i saw Rain's character & his uncle (sam-chun) play Go-stop in Sang-doo, let's go to school! too.

Anonymous said...

does anyone know where I can buy a deck online? I really what to lear how to play!!
if you have an answer please sent it to

thanks !!! ;D

Anonymous said...

does anyone know where I can buy a deck online? I really what to lear how to play!!
if you have an answer please sent it to

thanks !!! ;D

Adam said...

Hwatu rocks ! I'm still learning to play but my Father and Mother in law are good teachers


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