Lee Hajin

    Keywords: People


Lee Hajin (이하진, 李夏辰, b. 21 June 1988) is a retired Korean female professional 4 dan and from 2015-2016 secretary general of the International Go Federation.

Early life

Lee was born and raised in Daejeon, South Korea. She is the elder daughter of an engineer father and an accountant mother, both keen Go players, who taught her how to play Go at when she was 5 years old. When Lee was 9, her talents were so obvious that her parents sent Lee to a professional Go school in Seoul. This was boarding at the Go teacher's house with his family and a few other Go students. to live at the master’s house with him, his family, and several fellow students.

Lee writes that she "trained up to twelve hours a day as a young prodigy."[ext] Hajin Lee, Disappointed by Netflix’s ''The Queen’s Gambit:'' A review by a former professional Go player, Dec 16, 2020 During holidays, she would come home to her family.

Lee explained that while losing was heartbreaking, this is the way she would learn:

“In real life, players grow stronger from losing. I remember the moments, hundreds of them, when I went to the bathroom to cry by myself, because I felt so upset and angry after losing a match. No one is so talented and so far ahead of everyone else that they never lose. I believe losing is an indispensable part of the journey. You grow stronger from the pain of losing.”[ext] Hajin Lee, Disappointed by Netflix’s ''The Queen’s Gambit:'' A review by a former professional Go player, Dec 16, 2020

Lee also explains the sacrifices needed to become a professional Go player:

“Not even a genius can become world champion without extensive and systematic training. Training requires sacrifice. When I was an elementary school student, I could only imagine what it would be like to be free to go to friends’ birthday parties, or just casually to hang out with them. The reality was, day after day, I always had to go to my Go school for training, without exception.”[ext] Hajin Lee, Disappointed by Netflix’s ''The Queen’s Gambit:'' A review by a former professional Go player, Dec 16, 2020

Sensational early success

In 2005, when she was 17, and a new pro, [ext] Lee Hajin had a sensational streak with victories over Rui Naiwei 9p in the King of Kings round of the Electronic Land Cup tournament. Then she beat Cho Hyeyeon (then 6p), the title holder in the Female Myungin championship. Her fighting skill was remarkable; she has liked studying life and death problems from a young age.

Go playing career

• Bronze Medalist, 2008 World Mind Sports Games in Beijing, a follow-up event of 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics

• Represented South Korea for 4 years at international women's team championships

• Winner, the 5th triangle Land Cup Women's Division (Phoenix)

• Runner-up, the 14th Women's Kuksu Title (Lost to Rui Naiwei)

• Competed in over 50 domestic and international tournaments and won over $180k USD in total prize money.[From Lee Hajin's personal website, Go https://hajinlee.info/go.html]

Impact of AI

When AlphaGo sensationally defeated top professionals, Lee analysed many games on her YouTube channel. She was the official commentator at the Future of Go Summit in Wuzhen, China, where Google DeepMind's AlphaGo played top pros of China.

In 2018, Lee played an 8-game match with LeelaZero with a floating handicap (see Leela Zero vs Haylee Match). Leela won 6-2, winning both even games and all four games with Leela giving Lee a handicap of 2 stones vs komi. Lee won both games with handicap 3 stones vs komi.

Lee found the advent of AI discouraging, even though she had just previously retired from professional Go. She acknowledges that AI will help the best players play even better, but she see three main problems with AI:[ext] Hajin Lee, Impact of Go AI on the professional Go world, Medium, Aug 22, 2020

1. For the top professional tournament players, it has undermined their mission of finding truth in Go (the Divine Move) over a lifetime of study, because now this will be found by more computing power.

2. AI also undermines the individuality of style that made Go so attractive to fans. Now, the best players are all trying to imitate the best AI.

3. For teaching professionals, who make their living by lessons and training games. Now, AI can provide both training games and review.

She notes that a number of Go professionals are now leaving Go. Lee Sedol announced his retirement after losing 1–4 to AlphaGo.

Go administration

Lee was General Secretary of the International Go Federation (IGF) | Jun. 2014 - Jun. 2016

Lee is presently Executive Director, the North American Go Federation [ext] Leadership: The Board of Directors of the North American Go Federation and International Affairs Manager, the American Go Association. (From [ext] Lee Hajin's personal website, Go)

English language blog

In 2008, Lee Hajin opened up an English language blog at starbaduk.cafe24.com, about professional Baduk in Korea, which at some point disappeared (without archival).

The blog turned into a book in 2016 "Outside the Board". The German edition "Jenseits des Bretts" is available as hardcover since 2017. For a signing session Hajin showed up on the European Go Congress the same year.

Once worked as a teacher on [ext] http://insei-league.com/. She has visited various go events in Europe and American such as the EGC 2010, EGC 2013, and London Open 2014.

YouTube channel in English

In February 2015, [ext] Lee revealed that she was the recent Youtube Go streamer [ext] Haylee L.. As of October 2023, she hasn't posted a video since June 1, 2020, and she announced on her About page that she was no longer updating her YouTube channel.[Haylee's World of Go/Baduk: | About https://www.youtube.com/@HayleesWorldofGoBaduk/about]

A database of all her Youtube games as SGF files was maintained by Ger de Groot at [ext] hajin.nl but as of May 2023 it is no longer accessible. Games 1-43, and 120-165, are preserved on the Internet Archive, but the SGF records of all the other games were lost when the hajin.nl site was discontinued.

Directly after the match between Lee Sedol and AlphaGo she made a very insightful 94 minute discussion "AlphaGo Match Stories and Game Highlights" on [ext] Youtube.

Promotion History

  • 2005 Shodan
  • 2005 2 dan (December)
  • 2006 3 dan
  • 2016 4 dan


She wrote a book in English about her experience as a professional player, [Outside the Board: Diary of a Professional Go Player], Old Hickory Press, ISBN 978-1945025006, 2016.

The German title is Jenseits des Bretts, German: Brett und Stein Verlag


Lee Hajin retired from her professional career by end of August 2016 and moved to Switzerland for studying at the University of Geneva. The reason she gave in her [ext] video is: "I just want to enjoy playing Go without any expectations or fancy title." She now lives in the USA, and uses the western order of her name, Hajin Lee.


Even before she retired from professional Go, Lee earned a BA in International Finance from SolBridge? International School of Business in 2013, and was class valedictorian with GPA: 4.39/4.5. She was also Second Best Individual Debater, 2013 SolBridge? Debate Championship.

After retirement, Lee earned an MBA with Honors, GPA: 5.52/6.0, with a Master’s thesis: Global Governance Models in Cybersecurity.[ext] Hajin Lee's personal website, Education

Current occupation

Lee has held several jobs in software development, and is now a Software Development Engineer at Amazon (since September 2022).[ext] Hajin Lee's personal website, Work

Personal life

In 2016, Hajin Lee married Dan Maas, so sometimes calls herself “Haylee Maas”.

Outside links

[ext] KBA profile [ext] Wikipedia page

Lee Hajin last edited by Jono64a on January 18, 2024 - 00:44
RecentChanges · StartingPoints · About
Edit page ·Search · Related · Page info · Latest diff
[Welcome to Sensei's Library!]
Search position
Page history
Latest page diff
Partner sites:
Go Teaching Ladder
Login / Prefs
Sensei's Library