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Dong, Dong, Dongdaemun facts for kids

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Dong, Dong, Dongdaemun (동, 동, 동대문) is a nursery rhyme sung among Korean children, usually while playing a game. It is also the name of the game. Its melody starts identically to the German Kinderlied Lasst uns froh und munter sein, but ends differently.

Dongdaemun is most likely to refer directly to the real Dongdaemun (Heunginjimun, the East Grand Gate) of Seoul, and Namdaemun to the real Namdaemun (Sungnyemun, the South Grand Gate).


(Variations may exist in different regions of the country.)

동, 동, 동대문을 열어라,
남, 남, 남대문을 열어라,
12시가 되면은, (or 지나면,)
문을 닫는다.
Dong, Dong, Dongdaemuneul yeoreora,
Nam, Nam, Namdaemuneul yeoreora,
Yeol dusiga doemyeoneun, (or Yeol dusiga jinamyeon,)
Muneul danneunda.
  • Translation
Open the East, East, East Grand Gate,
Open the South, South, South Grand Gate,
When it's at twelve sharp,
The Gates are closed.


<score %vorbis="1"%%T257066%> \relative c' { \key a \minor \time 4/4 g'4 g g8 a g f | e4 e e r4 | f4 f f8 g f e | d4 d d r |\break c4 d e f | g a g r | c g e d | c2 r2 \bar "|." } \addlyrics { 동 동 동 대 문 을 열 어 라 남 남 남 대 문 을 열 어 라 열 두 시 가 되 면 은 문 을 닫 는 다 } \addlyrics { Dong, Dong, Dong -- dae -- mun -- eul yeo -- reo -- ra, Nam, Nam, Nam -- dae -- mun -- eul yeo -- reo -- ra, Yeol -- du -- si -- ga doe -- myeon -- eun, Mun -- eul dan -- neun -- da. } </score>

The game

Two children are selected as the gatekeepers (or the gate itself). They hold their both hands to form an arch so the other players can pass under it. Children start to sing the song as they pass through the gate one by one in a row. When the song ends, the gates are closed as the gatekeepers lower their hands and catch the child who was passing through the gate. The caught child becomes the new gatekeeper. Players can play another round to select the second gatekeeper, or they can replace the gatekeepers one by one after each turn of the game.

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