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Korean Hwatu

Hwatu (화투) cards originally came about because gambling with four-suited decks was outlawed. This ban prompted the creation of new decks and a new game.

‘Royal Gold’ Korean Hwatu

Hwatu cards are the Korean version of Japanese Flower Cards. “Hwatu” literally means “flower cards”. There are 48 cards in the game, broken up into twelve months (suits) of four cards each. Each month has a corresponding plant which is represented on the card. The cards are printed on thick, red plastic. Some of the cards have the word "光" (‘bright’) used to identify high scoring cards, a feature absent in the Japanese version. Hwatu is very commonly played in South Korea. ‘Go Stop’ is a popular card game played in Korea using “Hwatu” (화투) cards. The goal of the game is to gain as many points as possible, with certain combinations netting more points than others.

See also: another version of Hwatu CardsDiamond brand HwatuWaddamda Hwatu

Hwatu cards made in Korea

Above: 'New Royal Gold' Hwatu cards made in Korea, 2012. There are twelve suits, representing months. Each is designated a flower, and each suit has four cards. Typically, each suit will have two normal cards and one special card. A deck of Korean Hwatu cards usually includes bonus cards; these are shown in the bottom row.

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.


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