Corea, with a C

We’ve all seen it. Corea, spelled with a C.

As a foreigner living in this country, you become desensitized to the all too frequent misspelling and mish mash of English words randomly tossed together known as Konglish. Even still, there are some examples that leave you dumbfounded.

And Corea with a C is one of those. Pondering this error with other foreigners typically results in the opinion that misspelling the name of your country is an egregious mistake. Some have suggested inexcusable and unpatriotic, even if English is your second language.

Koreans unpatriotic, I wasn’t buying it. In my opinion, a small portion of the misspellings could be Konglish related, but something told me there was there was a greater significance in play, beyond the butchering of English words and phrases that is considered cute in Korea.

For more information, I turned to a Korean friend of mine who revealed the following in an email:

I don’t have the specifics but I was told that “Korea” was originally first written as “Corea” (which sounds closer to “Goryo” one of the first kingdoms of Korea)..and in French, it’s still written with a “C” (and other European languages. I think only English writes with a “K”). But it was CHANGED to “K” by the Japanese during the occupation because “K” comes AFTER “J” in the alphabet….so the story goes.

Now, I’m not naive enough to think that ANY government acts on behalf of its citizens and with altruistic motives at all times. Sometimes there’s an agenda and the Japanese govt doing something like this is not so far fetched when you consider the OTHER things the Japanese colonizers imposed. For example, they made ALL schools teach only in Japanese, and everyone who attended schools had to change their name to a Japanese one.

Of course stuff like this WON’T be included in any history book from the period from either Korea NOR Japan so…

I think it’s completely plausible and I’ve always wondered about the “K” even before I heard this story. Just like this fight with the Sea of Japan, or East Sea debacle, and Dokdo Island… all politics my friend.

Wow. So contrary to popular belief, Corea with a C appears to be the patriotic thing to do, not the other way around. Kind of a nationalistic throw back to simpler times. Maybe it’s also a way to stick it to Japan. Take that, occupiers.

Lesson learned. I won’t poke fun at the I heart Corea tshirts anymore.


~ by ripcitytoseoul on June 28, 2010.

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