January 4, 2010

Korean Scrabble...

I have to say that the greatest design and production team I know are my parents, Doug and Mary Wills.

Deciding to come to Korea was a big step for me and my family. Not only have I become immersed in the culture, but I dragged my family along for the ride as well. That meant throwing my kids into challenging situations where they did not know the culture, language or any familiar faces. They managed very well...I can see the increase in their confidence.

From the beginning, I enrolled them in language classes. They had a great teacher, Jin-Kyung Yang. She was a treasure!

When they came back to Kalamazoo, my mother found a Korean church that teaches them on the weekends. Believe me, it is not an easy language to learn. Actually, it is downright impossible! Motivation is a problem...especially for active Wills kids.

FYI...this the alphabet: ㅂㅈㄷㄱ쇼ㅕㅑㅐㅔㅁㄴㅇㄹ호ㅓㅏㅣㅋㅌㅊ퓨ㅜㅡㅃㅉㄸㄲㅆㅒㅖ
You have to combine these letters to make an exponential amount of sounds! Like I said...OMG

So, being a designer at heart, my mother identified the pain points and decided to tackle the problem...and I mean tackle it! She did some brain storming and decided on a game. A game for the kids to play that will be more exciting than the drudgery of straight memorization.

Most people would stop at flash cards...maybe buy a DVD or a computer game...but my mom decides to design and develop a Korean scrabble game...argh! The game is hard enough in English!

When she tackles a design project, she enlists her go-to engineer and production artist, my father. He is equipped with a man cave that has all the high tech tools needed for the task. ;-)

My dad spent over 5 hours cutting and sanding all of the scrabble blocks! Then my mom had all of the kids write their own letters on the blocks. Each family member has their own color set of scrabble blocks...

It took another 5 hours to create the board. Of course, it had to be varnished with molding and a custom hand painted color coated grid!

There is also a set of flash cards for inspiration and added dimension. You get to use a dictionary to settle disputes...and knowing the Wills family...there will be disputes!

So, the other day, I got a chance to play and test the fun factor. It was challenging and to my surprise, it was actually fun...maybe because I won. ;-)

Yes, my mom is still in the testing phase. Above are a few notes she took during the inaugural game... Cheating is allowed? hmmm... as long as you don’t get caught... well it is Korean scrabble.

All in all, I think it is a great way to help the kids learn Korean...

...But most of all, I am so impressed with my parents’ motivation, creativity and teamwork. Not to mention their devotion to the kids.

We are truly, a family blessed.


Anonymous Lyra Jakabhazy said...

Fantastic! Well done, Team Wills!

January 05, 2010  
Blogger annamatic said...

wow, that looks great! very nice hand-lettering on the tiles, too.

January 05, 2010  
Blogger Unknown said...

WoW!!! Impressive really:) My husband is Polish and I want my new baby daughter to learn the language...(me too as much as possible)...This scrabble game would be so great for us to play together!!!! -Enjoy your time together:) Meryldine Domenz Bigosinska (Bob Domenz's sister)

January 05, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What ingenious, loving parents! The idea of developing a word game in a language that is foreign to you is - well, words fail me! (Meryldine Domenz - Bob Domenz's mom)

January 05, 2010  
Anonymous fritz said...


Patent it!

Patent it before the Koreans steal the idea from you!!!

January 05, 2010  
Blogger Sue Jin said...

You have an amazing family. BTW, I'm forgetting korean over here...could you make one copy for me? haha...kidding


January 21, 2010  
Anonymous Irene Chong said...

This is seriously awesome! Makes me want to learn too.

January 26, 2010  
Blogger EmJay said...

I'm so surprised you said Korean was a hard language to learn. I picked it up rather quickly.

I can't believe the actual Scrabble company hasn't come up with a way to make a Korean Scrabble game, I agree that it should be patented. I'd love my own set!

February 14, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Douglas.
Mr. Doug and Ms. Marry too my Amerkansky the father and mum.
I was there 2008.
I from Uzbekistan.
To write the letter, Douglas.
e-mail: elmurod2004@mail.ru

June 10, 2011  
Blogger Unknown said...

Simply amazing! My girlfriend is a Korean adoptee and she's learning Korean. I just happened to mention that she should play Korean scrabble with her study-mate. I then goggled the phrase and viola, your post popped up.

Would you have any advise on creating a similar game board (maybe a blue print). I'd love to purchase one if the option was available.

Thanks so much =)


November 11, 2013  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Eli,

This was a prototype to help my kids learn. We still have to figure out how to make the "Hangul" (Korean letter) "stack." You see, Korea letters stack to make words and sounds. For example,말 is ㅁ+ㅏ+ㄹ=말 (which means horse). It is easy to h+o+r+s+e=horse, but we still have to figure out how to make the characters work for a board game...Maybe we should just create an online version...

November 11, 2013  
Blogger Unknown said...

Fritz and Mike are right. Patent it. Once the syllable-block issue is worked out it will be worth a lot of money.

This is a wonderful idea! I'd like to play it myself. Is your father inclined to
make and sell a few extra copies of your current version?

Great photo of your Mom, too. And yes, you have stupendously wonderful and magical parents. Congratulations to you all!

July 21, 2015  
Blogger Kris said...

So did you manage to make it work....as a family currently in korea and learnong korean....i would be interested

February 05, 2019  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hey folks who showed up here for Korean Scrabble. Light N Games (Korean board game developer I work for) is developing a Hangul game which is a cross between Boggle and Scrabble. The above solution seems really fun as well, if they decide to sell it...if not, join us at https://www.facebook.com/lightngames and ask us about Ding Dong Daeng.

April 05, 2020  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm curious what the point values for the letters in Korean. Thank you!

August 30, 2022  

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