Japanese vs. Korean books on Go

When I played Go years ago (and then stopped for almost a decade) I had only read Japanese Go books, but now when I have taken up Go again, I began to read Go books by Korean authors and I must say that I find them to be much better for beginners than the Japanese.

Are Korean Go books more didactic in general or is it simply the fact that most of Japanese Go books that are available in English were written in the 1970s while the Korean books available in English were written this century or at least in the 1990s and thus reflect a more modern pedagogical and didactic approach which is also found in newer Japanese Go books that have not been translated into English?


I cannot have an opinion about that specific range of books, but I will say this about the old Japanese book style that might have made them seem harder to grasp than they really were.
They didn’t seem to care whether the diagram they were talking about was in the same page as the text. Often they would switch diagrams mentioned after just one sentence and you always had to take your eyes away from the text and whatever focus you had, to look for diagrams somewhere and go back and forth in order to understand what goes were and then figure out what’s up.

More modern books seem to understand that this was a bad idea and try to actively curtail that (E.g. the “Vital Points and Skillful Finesse for Sabaki” book by Norimoto).

What I think helps a lot is diagram+text together, like “Shape up!” does.


Same here. And to be honest most of those oldies books work better than sleeping pills. Waste of money and time mostly.

There were a few books I liked:

  • The direction of play (Kajiwara)
  • Go, Die Mitte des Himmels (Koulen)
  • The master of go (Kawabata)
  • The treasure chest enigma (Nakayama)
  • Invincible (Power)

I think that Janice Kim’s and Jeong Soo-hyun’s Learn to Play Go, Kim Sung-Rae’s Speed Baduk, and Chihyung Nam’s Baduk made Fun and Easy are all better as “textbooks” or introductory books than most of the Japanese and Japanese-style Go books on the market.


A matter of generations. Different needs in that sense.
These older japanese books in english were diamonds, when internet was inexistent, and players rare. And the japanese pro world were putting a lot of effort and quality into them to spread the game into the West.
But in my opinion they were less beginner friendly. There was a gap between the full beginner and an intermediate player not filled by these books. (With the exception of go for beginners from Iwamoto K.)

I have the memory that you have to turn the page to see… the answer. I won’t blame them for that.

Ok, not always.

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Not always. Often the layout is somewhat unfortunate so the diagram being discussed is on the previous page or the next page.

Yeah i said not always.
Another thing is the reader were supposed to lie down each diagram on a board with stones. Or, according to the writer (that was sometimes mentioned in the book itself, if that wasn’t already advised by some club player), he will lose a lot of what he could learn if he just read the book. This makes less a priority to get diagrams on the same page.

Maybe I was a bit unclear in what I wrote initially, sorry about that. I was not talking about the concept of "here is this idea in page X, here is a puzzle in page X+1, the answer is hidden behind in page X+2. That is very reasonable when it happens. :slight_smile:

I was talking about the concept being talked in page X and the diagram being in page X+2. That is a bit extreme, but it has happened once and I was perplexed. Usually a concept is mentioned in page X+1 and the diagram has been pushed to page X+2 behind it (because it did not fit in the small “handheld size pages” that were in vogue back then). That meant that you had to flip back and forth in order to follow the text and the diagram.

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You are right. The problem is that I seldom have the time to lay out all the stones in the diagrams (although it is very helpful the times I have done that) so I find the Korean books that are not written on that premise to be more useful because I don’t have the time to work with the Japanese books the way you are supposed to do. I also find Gunnar Dickfelds’ Schwarz am Zug series very useful when you are trying to study Go with limited time at your disposal and I really like the Chines site 101 weiqi although it annoys me that they don’t accept PayPal so it is impossible for me to get access to the graded workbooks because AliPay doesn’t work with my bank and WeChat Pay isn’t available outside China.