Go-Stop (sometimes called Godori, for reasons you'll learn soon enough) is played with small thick cards called hwa-tu in Korea, and hanafuda in Japan. This type of card used to be the mainstay product of Japanese game company Nintendo, until videogames came along. Nintendo still makes cards, but there are also many other companies that make these cards today, especially in Korea.

The cards used to play Go-Stop are smaller and thicker than playing cards used in the West. Hwa-tu are approx. 1 & 3/8" wide by 2 & 1/8" high. (That's an average size I derived from two Korean decks I own - one is a little smaller, one is a little larger, than the measurements given here.)

Hwa-tu make a satisfying "snap" sound when thrown down with vigor. They're also a little tricky to shuffle. To shuffle hwa-tu cards, hold the deck in the left hand, face-down, cupped between the fingers and thumb (face of bottom card resting on palm). With the right hand, grab a random hunk of cards from the deck, pull them out, and stack them on top. Repeat several times. With enough practice, you can do it rapidly.

Hwa-Tu Deck Breakdown

Korean hwa-tu decks are comprised of:

The Suit Cards

There are 12 suits, each with four cards.

Each suit represents a flower or plant, and a month of the year. For example, the four "cherry blossom" ("sakura") cards represent the month of March.











NOVEMBER - PAULOWNIA (Korean: odong. Note: in Japanese hanafuda, Paulownia represents December.)

This suit is usually known as RAIN (Korean: bi. Note: In Japanese hanafuda, Willow/Rain represents November.)

Brights, Animals, Ribbons, & Junk (pi)

Even a casual glance at the suit cards above reveals that the cards within a suit are far from identical. Distributed unevenly among the suit cards are depictions of animals, objects, Chinese characters, and ribbons of two colors.

BRIGHTS ("gwang")

The Brights of Korean hwa-tu decks are usually marked with the Chinese character for "light" or "bright." There's a total of five Brights in the deck. There's a bonus for collecting them all!

ANIMALS ("tongmul")

The Animal cards don't all have animals on them - but don't let that bug you. There are nine animal cards.

RIBBONS ("tti")

There are three kinds of ribbon cards - red poetry, blue poetry, and plain red. There are ten ribbon cards. The writing on the blue ribbons just says "Chung Dan" ("blue ribbon"), and the writing on the red ribbons just says "Hong Dan" ("red ribbon").


The most common type of card is the Junk card (there are 24 in the deck). The Koreans call these cards "pi" (pronounced "pee"). Ten junk cards are worth 1 point in Go-Stop.

These four different types of cards are distributed unevenly among the suits. Since there are only five Brights, there are seven suits that don't have any. There are suits without ribbon cards or animal cards, too. And notice that while most suits have two pi (junk cards), the November suit (Rain) has just one pi - and the December suit (Paulownia) has three.

The suit of November (Willow or Rain) is the only one that has one of each of the four card types. This uneven distribution greatly enhances the playability (and must be reflected in the strategy), of the hanafuda family of games.

The Extra Cards

As mentioned above, Korean hwa-tu decks come with extra cards not found in Japanese hanafuda decks. Korean decks usually come with five different joker cards, and a specially-marked Rain Junk card.

Put your cursor on the card to see its meaning!

JOKER CARDS - Type 2 (Chorus)

Left: normal Rain junk card. Right: two different special Rain junk cards.

When using the Rain junk as a double-Junk ("sang-pi"), use the specially-marked Rain junk card, if your deck comes with one, instead of the unmarked Rain junk.

The Type 1 joker cards were explained to me in some detail by Taesun Yeom, but I haven't researched the uses of the Type 2 joker cards seen above.

Most players don't use all the joker cards the way they're intended (writing on the cards tells the player how to use them). Most players, and most arcade Go-Stop games, only use the two simplest types of jokers: jokers that give you one, two, or three extra pi (junk cards). You can use them all, if you want! See the three rules on table rules.)

We'll examine the use of the joker cards later.

Some new information about the Paulownia and Poetry Ribbon cards, from the Q&A Bulletin Board here on Sloperama...

Click HERE to go to the next page: Rules of Go-Stop

Copyright 2003-2006 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved. Reproduction by written permission of the author only.