Baduk and Relationship
A few days ago, there was a graduation ceremony at my school, in which two close friends of mine officially received the permission to leave the school. I dressed up from the morning and gladly prepared two bunches of flowers, small gifts and congratulation cards. On the way to the school, I told myself that the ceremony would be interesting with touching speeches and meaningful moments. As I entered the auditorium, finding people in their graduation gowns and caps, the fact that they were leaving flooded into my mind. I knew it was a happy day for them. I knew I would see them again. I knew it was nothing new but things that happened all the time eventually. And yet, I couldn’t help bursting into tears.
I felt sad that my close friends were leaving. I was especially close with one of them, who was going back to her home country, Thailand soon after the ceremony. In baduk community, you are almost guaranteed to keep meeting the same people unless either of you quit playing it. Before coming to Solbridge, virtually all my friends were connected through baduk, and I haven’t really thought about losing them. As long as we are both baduk players, which wouldn’t change easily, I will probably have a chance to see them again.
In my freshman year in the middle school, I had one best friend, who also graduated from the same elementary school as me. She didn’t talk much, but had a golden heart with bright smile. We always had lunch together, and she helped me a lot with afternoon classes and homework because I left the school after lunch break to go to the baduk academy. Yet, she was so caring and helpful that I didn’t feel much difficulty about that. From some point, however, I started noticing that she was hanging out with other friends more often instead of me. So I asked her if I did anything wrong to her. She said she couldn’t stand any more that her only friend would leave the school after lunch and she was alone at the school afterward. I felt terrible. I couldn’t believe that the idea never came across to me. After the incident, I had decided not to have a close friend at school, which I kept until my high school.
When my mind came back to the present after a quick trip to the past, I started going back again to see if I had close friends who were non-baduk players in my life. None. I mean, I did have friends here and there, but they were never as close.
Anyway, thinking about my relationships with non-baduk players, I suddenly wondered how playing baduk would affect people’s personality or behavior in terms of the relationship. There is a saying in Korea that playing baduk brings you good friends. Considering many players I have met, who were genuinely nice and friendly, it’s quite convincing. Also, I saw many cases that baduk players were actually very close to other players. Yet, a part of the reason could be that baduk is such a rare hobby, especially in Western countries. Therefore, it’s not surprising that baduk players in the same town or club would become close friends. What I am interested in, though, is that if there are other factors that distinguish baduk players from non-players as a companion or a friend.
First of all, the obvious message that baduk gives is that we are all independent. As you know, once you start playing you are not allowed to ask anyone. Everyone makes his/her own decisions and be responsible for the outcome. Consequently, baduk players tend to be independent even if they are as young as preteens. In my case, I left home and my family when I was 9 years old to learn baduk professionally. Needless to say, it would have been much more difficult, if it weren’t baduk that taught me to become independent since I was 5.
In many senses being independent is desirable. It forms responsibility and maturity, and it also leads people to be proactive and positive. It is questionable, however, whether it has only upside. For a long time I had believed that not asking for a favor or help was important in building or maintaining a good relationship. Yet, on the contrary, I’ve realized recently that people sometimes want to feel needed by their family, friends or girlfriends. Therefore, you should be aware that being too independent may make your people feel distance from you.
Do you know what one big commonality of most Korean professional player is? They don’t talk much. Though admittedly there are some exceptions, most of the players to whom I have personally talked were very quiet people. When I say quiet, I don’t mean they don’t like talking or have depressed personalities. On the contrary, they are usually bright people, who enjoy listening to others. It’s probably because playing baduk doesn’t require any talking. Thinking about it, professional players are the ones who always have played baduk since they were little kids. Consequently, as you would easily assume, baduk players are mostly comfortable with silence.
Taking my case as an example, I don’t talk much either especially when I am with strangers or people I barely acquainted. Though I speak more when I am with people with whom I feel comfortable, I still wouldn’t talk that much. Also, I tend to talk more in a smaller group, like two or three including myself. Therefore, I prefer having a few close friends to many friends. Considering what I have seen so far, most professional players in Korea are not far from this.
Nevertheless, I am thinking the biggest difference between baduk players and non baduk players is nothing else, but baduk. Other than that, players are in the end the same people. They may have a few characteristics. Yet, I believe any group of professionals or amateurs who have been doing one thing for long enough would share a few specific personalities as well.
Anyway, I wanted to say this to my friends, who successfully graduated. Thank you for the wonderful time. I was really lucky to befriend with you. You have made my school life much more memorable. I wish you the best in your life.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Lee Hajin, a professionals perspective
Reposting this because it is a interesting article written by Lee Hajin