“I like fighting with all my might in silence. I like the fact that you have to destroy the house the opponent built with great care to win.”
This is Song Hye-kyo’s lines in the Netflix hit drama ‘The Glory’, where Part 2 will be uploaded on March 10th. Moon Dong-eun (played by Song Hye-kyo), a victim of school violence in high school, prepares an elaborate revenge for her assailant Park Yeon-jin (played by Lim Ji-yeon). In order to approach Park Yeon-jin’s husband, Song Hye-kyo learns Go, and as she plays Go together, she becomes friendly with a man. The set of Baduk Park (Incheon Cheongna Lake Park) in the play, decorated with huge checkerboards and stones, has emerged as a ‘glory sanctuary’.
In dramas, baduk appears as a means of desperate revenge, but in reality, baduk is the most non-violent game and brain sport. Go has an infinite number of moves, and there is an aesthetic of silence in which you have to wait for your opponent to play. However, Baduk, which boasts a 4,000-year history, is losing out to computer and online games that appeared in the last century. In 2016, the match between artificial intelligence AlphaGo and Lee Se-dol, 9 dan, drew attention, but for the younger generation, who are accustomed to online games that don’t even blink an eye, Baduk is a difficult and boring pastime. Myongji University’s baduk department, which is the only one in Korea, is also in danger of being abolished in the process of integration with Myongji Junior College.
Ads to prevent the abolition of baduk department
Chairman Seo Hyo-seok, who was elected as the 8th president of the Korea Baduk Association in March of last year, is looking for a trick to turn this baduk crisis into an opportunity to leap forward. He announces that he will spread 13 × 13 lines of ‘easy Go’, make seniors become friends with Go to prevent dementia, a homework in the age of super-aging, and hold a Go festival in the United States where 1,000 people play simultaneously.
Chairman Seo is the representative director of Pyunkang Oriental Medicine Clinic, which made the ‘Pyunkang Tang legend’. He spread Pyunkangtang widely through crude and ingenious advertisements and aggressive marketing. I met Chairman Seo at the head office of Pyunkang Oriental Clinic in Seocho-dong, Seoul.
Q: I heard that you put your life and death on the supply of 13 lines of Go.
A: “That’s right. Everyone knows that Go is great for brain development and concentration improvement. The problem is that there is a strong perception that ‘go is difficult to learn and takes up too much time’. So, before learning 19×19 line Baduk, let’s start with 13×13 line Baduk. 13-Line Baduk is easy to learn and can be completed in 20 minutes, so playing multiple games won’t take much time. We are distributing 13-line baduk to elementary schools in Bucheon-si, Gyeonggi-do, and children finish it after only 10 hours of teaching.”
Q: Does Go actually help prevent dementia?
A : “A research team led by Professor Junsu Kwon of the Department of Psychiatry at Seoul National University published a paper comparing and observing the brains of a group that played Go and a group that did not. In the Go group, the amygdala and orbitofrontal lobes, which are involved in emotional processing and intuitive judgment, and parietal lobes, which process spatial location information, were found to be activated. It means that Baduk develops insight, intuitive judgment, and spatial perception. There is not a single dementia patient among Korean, Chinese, and Japanese pros. Japan’s Sugiuchi 8th Dan is 96 years old this year, and last year’s record was 2 wins and 7 losses. It is similar to how Son Heung-min scored a goal in the Premier League at the age of 60. haha.”
Q: That’s why you came up with the slogan ‘Let’s learn Go at 60 and prevent dementia at 70’.
A : “One in six elderly people in Korea is said to have dementia. It will increase to one in five or four in the future. Scholars say that by 2050, the social cost of dementia will be 106 trillion won, but I think it will exceed 150 trillion won. Currently, there is no cure or vaccine. Prevention is the best policy, and I believe that stimulating the brain through Go is the best prevention.”
Q: It is said that Gangnam-gu, Seoul, started to spread baduk to the elderly.
A : “In December of last year, I published a full-page advertisement in a daily newspaper that said, ‘I strongly oppose the plan to abolish the baduk department at Myongji University’. After seeing that, the Gangnam-gu Welfare Foundation contacted me. I persuaded the head of the Gangnam-gu office by even including the content, ‘Old people are easy to get lonely because they don’t have friends. Starting with Gangnam-gu, the movement to spread Go to the elderly will spread throughout the country.” 바카라
It is said that Go is spreading rapidly in Europe, centering on the 13×13 line. There was also news that Saudi Arabia allocated a budget of about 42 trillion won by selecting Go, chess, and bridge as mind sports development events. Last year, Saudi Arabia invited Kim Myeong-hwan, 8th dan, as a Go coach. Chairman Seo Hyo-seok is also planning to hold the ‘Easy Baduk Festival’ in the United States next year to drive this momentum.
Q: What is the Go event held in the US?
A : “Americans are more familiar with the Japanese writing ‘go’ than baduk. Under the name of ‘Easy GO Festival’, on September 15th next year, 1,000 players will be playing at the same time in New York’s Central Park. We will provide a 13-line checkerboard and design and wear a Go uniform. It is also in the process of broadcasting this tournament, co-hosted by the American Baduk Association and the Korea Baduk Association, around the world through Chinese and American broadcasting stations. I will throw a message that I will save American teenagers from the danger of gun accidents through Go.”
Inauguration of the chairman and proposal to Xi Jinping
Q: You are ambitiously promoting the globalization of Go. What is your outlook?
A : “If we take the initiative, join forces with China and Japan, and bring in the Americas and Europe, Korea can become the suzerain of Baduk. It is also such a paving stone that I, a certified 6th dan, proposed a game to President Xi Jinping when I took office last year. The ultimate goal is to enter the Olympics. It is also an Asian Games event, so it would be nice to enter the Summer Olympics event, but if that is difficult, I am gathering ideas to explore the winter side as well.”
Chairman Seo, who was born in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, entered the Department of Oriental Medicine at Kyung Hee University at the top of the class the year it was established. Having suffered from severe tonsillitis since childhood, he developed ‘Pyunkangtang’ in 1973 after much effort, saying, ‘I feel ashamed to be treated by a Western doctor because I couldn’t even cure my disease.’ Since then, Pyunkang-tang has been recognized for its excellent efficacy in tonsillitis and cold for 50 years.
These days, he is carrying out a clean lung campaign called ‘clean lungs are the first step to health’. Every morning, he climbs Mount Suri near his home in Sanbon, Gyeonggi-do for an hour and a half before going to work by public transportation.
Chairman Seo said, “Based on the passion for developing Pyunkang Tang and the idea of nurturing Pyunkang Oriental Clinic into the best Korean medical institution, we will strive to globalize Baduk. This mission will be the end of my life,” he said with a big laugh.