How to Play Rock Paper Scissors in Korean

Rock Paper Scissors (RPS) is a timeless game that has been enjoyed for centuries, and it remains popular in many countries, including South Korea! Known as “가위바위보” (gawi-bawi-bo) in Korean, Rock Paper Scissors is often used to settle various decisions, such as who pays the restaurant bill, who does the dishes, or who takes out the trash. The game involves two players, each using their hands to form one of three shapes: rock, paper, or scissors. Each shape has an advantage over one shape and a weakness against the other shape. For example, rock beats scissors but loses to paper. In this article, we will explore how to play RPS in Korean, along with some tips and tricks to increase your chances of winning. So, if you’re ready, let’s dive in and learn how to play Rock Paper Scissors in Korean!

How to Play Rock Paper Scissors in Korean

  1. The players count aloud to three in Korean: “Hana, dul, set” (하나, 둘, 셋).
  2. On the count of “set,” players form one of the three gestures:
    • “가위” (ga-wi) for scissors, represented by forming the hand into a pair of scissors.
    • “바위” (ba-wi) for rock, depicted by forming a fist.
    • “보” (bo) for paper, signified by holding the hand out with the palm facing down.
  3. The winner is determined by the following rules:
    • Rock beats scissors
    • Scissors beat paper
    • Paper beats rock
  4. In the event of a tie, the players repeat the process.
  5. A common scoring system is for the winner of each round to earn a point, and the first player to reach a predetermined number of points wins the game.

Rock Paper Scissors Korean Guide

Here are a few strategies you can employ to increase your chances of winning at Rock Paper Scissors in Korean:

  1. Start with paper: A popular strategy is to always begin with paper. Since most people tend to start with rock, starting with paper allows you to counter their move and gain an advantage.
  2. Choose the counter-move: Another approach is to always select the gesture that beats the opponent’s previous move. If your opponent chooses rock, choose paper. If they opt for paper, choose scissors. And if they go for scissors, choose rock. By using this strategy, you can consistently stay one step ahead of your opponent.
  3. Observe your opponent: Pay close attention to your opponent’s body language and try to anticipate their move. While this can be challenging, being perceptive can give you an idea of their likely choice before they make their move.

Remember, practice makes perfect no matter which strategy you employ. The more you play, the better your chances of winning will be. Good luck!

Variations on the Game of Rock Paper Scissors

Rock Paper Scissors in Korean

  • Three-player variation: A variation of the game where three players participate simultaneously. In this version, rock beats scissors, scissors beat paper, paper beats rock, and scissors beat rock.
  • Best of three or best of five: Instead of playing a single round, players engage in multiple rounds, with the winner being the one who wins the majority of the rounds.
  • “Choki” variation: An alternative version where a different gesture is used for scissors. In this variation, players form a fist for rock, an open hand for paper, and a “choki” gesture (created by holding the thumb and index finger together to form a circle) for scissors.
  • “Mok-ji” variation: Another variation where a different gesture is used for paper. In this version, players form a fist for rock, a “mok-ji” gesture (made by holding the thumb and index finger together to form a circle) for paper, and an open hand for scissors.
  • “Mok-ji-choki” variation: A variation that employs different gestures for paper and scissors. In this version, players use a fist for rock, a “mok-ji” gesture for paper, and a “choki” gesture for scissors.
  • “Jis-nal” variation: A variation that allows players to bluff by showing one gesture but playing another.

My Experience Playing Rock Paper Scissors in Korean

Playing rock paper scissors with the Korean locals was a truly special experience. During my visit to Korea, I immersed myself in the culture and had the pleasure of meeting new people. One day, while I was out and about, I came across a group of locals engrossed in a game of rock paper scissors. They kindly invited me to join, and I enthusiastically accepted. It was my first time playing the game with Koreans, and I was excited to deepen my connection with them.

The game was intense yet filled with laughter. We chanted gawi-bawi-bo and enjoyed some coffee. To my surprise, the Korean locals approached rock paper scissors with great seriousness, employing their unique strategies and techniques to gain an advantage. This heightened my enjoyment as I had the opportunity to learn more about the game and the culture. It’s an unforgettable experience that I cherish to this day.

Common Mistakes Made When Playing Rock Paper Scissors in Korean

To avoid common pitfalls when playing Rock Paper Scissors in Korean, keep the following in mind:

  1. Misunderstanding the gestures: The gestures for rock, paper, and scissors (or gun) may differ in the Korean version of the game compared to the Western version, leading to mistaken interpretations.
  2. Not counting correctly: Some players may be unfamiliar with the counting system used in the Korean version of the game, which can result in errors when tallying the number of rounds played.
  3. Not following the rules: Lack of familiarity with the game’s rules in Korean can lead to mistakes, such as not understanding how to determine the winner.
  4. Not observing the opponent: Neglecting to pay attention to the opponent’s gestures can cause players to lose track of the game.
  5. Not considering cultural differences: Lack of awareness regarding cultural differences can result in misunderstanding social cues and etiquette associated with the game in Korean.


Learning how to play Rock Paper Scissors in Korean is not only a fun way to make new friends but also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture. Unlike traditional Korean games, Rock Paper Scissors is simple and can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of their Korean language proficiency. If you ever get the chance to play RPS in Korean, seize it and enjoy the experience!

Also, check out Do you wanna Eat Ramen in Korea for more exciting adventures!