[KS] Korean War (other terms)

Stefan Ewing sa_ewing at hotmail.com
Mon Nov 21 19:45:50 EST 2005

Dear KS List participants:

One contributor to this list (who may or may not wish me to claim that he is 
an expert in this area, so I'll leave him anonymous for now) addressed T.N. 
Park's question in something he wrote offline, but as I don't have it in 
front of me to quote from, I'll have to give a less-than-satisfactory 

The switch to using numerical dates instead of year names should have 
transpired some time in the years following the Japanese annexation in 1910 
(sorry for the vague imprecision!).

One historical event that bespeaks a transition from the old system to the 
new would appear to be the independence movement of 1919, which has both a 
date-based name (Samil Undong--"March 1st Movement") and a year-based name 
(Kimi Tongnip Undong--"Independence Movement [of the year] Kimi"; 
http://100.naver.com/100.php?id=86586).  I am not sure offhand which name 
was more commonly used in 1919, or if "March 1st" was coined after the fact 
and retroactively applied, or if there are any further historical events 
after 1919 that also have year-based names.

Anyhow, year naming as a common vernacular practice (in non-official printed 
matter)--in counterpoint to official use of Chinese or (latterly) Korean 
reign or era names--carried on right up to the end of the Joseon dynasty, 
but thereafter, fell into disuse, never to be fully revived.  (At least not 
beyond the extent the system is used today, in calendars and virtually 
nowhere else.)

Stefan Ewing


>From: "T.N. Park" <tnpark at mac.com>
>Reply-To: Korean Studies Discussion List <Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
>To: Korean Studies Discussion List <Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
>Subject: Re: [KS] Korean War (other terms)
>Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 07:53:28 +0900
>I can't recall if this has been covered by another poster, but while 6.25 
>전쟁 (yugio chŏnjaeng) is a commonly used term in South Korea for this 
>war that began on June 25 (1950), the term Han'guk chŏnjaeng, literally 
>"Korean War," is often used when describing non-Koreans and the Korean War 
>Particularly in movie and television show captions, especially when a 
>character is described as having participated or is somehow associated with 
>the Korean War, the literal translation Han'guk chŏnjaeng is very common. 
>I believe this is a conscious choice by the translators and may represent 
>some kind of unspoken convention.
>After all, for an American, Turk, Brit, or other member of the U.N. forces, 
>or for, say, a Japanese person doing business here after the war, the name 
>"June 25 war" would not carry the same meaning. For them there is only one 
>major war associated primarily with Korea. Hence, "the Korean War" is an 
>apt term.
>Sadly, it is the people of Korea themselves who have experienced multiple 
>wars in Korea, such that naming one—even perhaps the most 
>detrimental—the Korean War seems a bit odd.
>One thing I am curious about is when the convention of using the year name 
>(from the sixty-year cycle) fell out of favor. Why isn't 6.25 chŏnjaeng 
>the Kyŏng-in (庚寅) Chŏnjaeng?

Take charge with a pop-up guard built on patented Microsoft® SmartScreen 
  Start enjoying all the benefits of MSN® Premium right now and get the 
first two months FREE*.

More information about the Koreanstudies mailing list