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S. Koreans associate Go with Lee Se-dol: poll

All Headlines 14:31 January 11, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Koreans mostly associate the ancient board game of Go with the master who faced Google's artificial intelligence (AI) program, a national survey showed Wednesday.

Gallup Korea said 24.1 percent of people think of Lee Se-dol when they hear "baduk," the Korean word for Go. The pollster surveyed 1,000 South Koreans aged 19 or older from July 22, 2016, to Aug. 15, 2016.

Lee faced AlphaGo in a five-round Go tournament named the Google DeepMind Challenge Match in March 2016. Although the 33-year-old lost the tournament with a final score of 4-1, he still earned global fame with a single victory against the self-learning machine.

Lee was also selected as the most popular professional Go player in South Korea with 45.7 percent of support, the highest rating for a Go player since Gallup Korea started its survey in 1992. Previously, Lee Chang-ho had the highest supporting rate at 22.3 percent in the 2008 survey.

The poll showed 33.4 percent of the survey participants answered Lee Se-dol's contest against AlphaGo made them take interest in Go, while 52.8 percent said they had positive thoughts on Go after watching the historic man-versus-computer showdown.

More than 22 percent of the polled answered they know how to play Go, which suggests that the South Korean Go population may exceed 9 million based on the 2015 census data. However, only 4.5 percent of women said they know how to play the mind sport.

Go, which originated in China more than 2,500 years ago, involves two players alternately putting black and white stones on a checkerboard-like grid of 19 lines by 19 lines. The object is to claim larger territories than one's opponent by surrounding vacant areas of the board using one's own stones.

In this file photo taken on March 15, 2016, South Korean Go master Lee Se-dol smiles during a press conference after finishing a Go tournament against Google's artificial intelligence (AI) program AlphaGo at a Seoul hotel. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr
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