First Kyu - The Novel

First Kyu: A Novel
By: Dr. Sung-Hwa Hong
Publisher: Good Move Press, 1999
ISBN10 0-9644796-9-9
ISBN13 978-0964479692

First Kyu: A Novel, copyright 1999 by Dr. Sung-Hwa Hong, Illustrations by Du-Ri Han, Published by Good Move Press, the publishing arm of [ext] Samarkand, ISBN 0-9644796-9-9

The back cover says this is "a compelling, insightful and haunting tale of love, sacrifice, the search for excellence, and Go -- the world's oldest game." I think that's pretty accurate.

This novel is lots of bittersweet fun for Go players. It follows a teen player as he comes of age pursuing a professional Go career. As an occidental, I was fascinated by the scenes of Asian "Go culture" (including bangneki gambling -- now I understand what those guys at the Korean Go club were doing :-) and the backdrop of 1960s Korean society.

Though the story is well-written and very entertaining in its own right, Go players will appreciate some bonuses. Part 1 includes the kifu of the famous Blood Vomiting Game. In Part 2, most of the chapters are titled after Go proverbs; several include Go diagrams that seem to illustrate the proverbs.

Interestingly, based on a [ext] Google search I did, at least two American colleges are using First Kyu in courses about Asian culture and Go.

Other Languages

German: Erster Kyu?. By Brett und Stein Verlag in 2023. [ext] available soon


Does anybody know someplace where you can buy this book? Amazon and ABEbooks don't have it, and neither do any of the top Google matches.

Jk: As of August 1, 2003, First Kyu is back in print and [ext] available at [ext] Samarkand.
For german residents: The book is available for 15 (+2.50 p&p) at [ext] www.hebsacker-verlag.de (as of 04/30/2004)

Phelan: Probably old news, but the book is now available on [ext] Amazon. (May 18, 2005) Phelan: I recently(October 2008) bought it from Schaak En Gowinkel Het Paard, and recomend it for europeans.


Malweth Is this book Autobiographical? Or perhaps based on a true story? The Author's Note in the beginning mentions actual characters in the novel.


I spoke with Dr. Hong at one of the US Go Congresses and he said the story is not autobiographical.


TheClam I Own This Book, The story is of a boy that trys to become pro, he meets many people, and its just a good book to get. The Ending Is A Bit Sad, and left me wanting more.


rubin427? some trivia: The book of "the games of Wu" which the main character studies is likely a collection of the games of Go Seigen

In my opinion,The book First Kyu contains a major literary reference to the novel "Demian" by Hermann Hesse. That novel has many parallel themes, including an emphasis on fate as a major force in the lives of the main characters.


First Kyu - The Novel last edited by 2a06:be00:024f:0000 on May 30, 2023 - 15:06
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