[KS] A Question about the term hanbando

Stefan Ewing sa_ewing at hotmail.com
Tue May 9 14:45:33 EDT 2006

Dear Christopher (and Mr. Im):

As others have already pointed out, the English word "peninsula" does in 
fact mean "semi-island" (or literally, "almost island"), from the Latin 
"paene" ("almost") + "insula" ("island") (http://www.askoxford.com/).  We 
can see the same pattern in, for example, "penultimate," which means "next 
to last" (or "almost last").

Now, when did a similar word ("pando"/"bando") appear in the CJK(V) sphere?  
I don't have access to an etymological dictionary, but a quick search in the 
online Choso^n Wangjo Sillok (http://sillok.history.go.kr/main/main.jsp) 
turns up three occurrences of the word:

* T'aejong Sillok vol. 19 (10th yr, 4th mo, 9th day): "Sandong Pando" 
(Shandong Peninsula in China).
* So^njo Sillok vol. 109 (32.2.1): "Yo^su Pando" (as in Yeosu in Jeolla-do).
* Sukchong Sillok vol. 65, appendix: "Sandong Pando" (appears to be a direct 
quote from T'aejong Sillok).

Granted, these three (or two) uses of the term are in reference to 
sub-national entities, and there is no occurrence that I could find that 
used "Pando" specifically in reference to the Korean Peninsula.  (I could 
only search in Hancha, as the site's search utility doesn't appear to 
process Han'gu^l from a Microsoft XP computer using Internet Explorer 
correctly.)  Nevertheless, the term clearly existed in the Chinese-character 
sphere long before the tumultuous events of the late 19th century.  I have 
no idea if it originated in Japanese and was then transmitted to Korean and 
Chinese (as opposed to originating in another of the three languages), but 
given that the word's formation is similar its to Latinate (and German) 
equivalents, there might well have been no malicious or "island-centric" 
intent at all in using the term.

As for the use of "Han," was it used in a derogatory manner (apart from the 
Meiji-era examples cited)?  I'm in no position to judge, but given that 
"Taehan Cheguk" ("Korean [lit., 'Great Han'] Empire") was chosen as Korea's 
official name in 1897, could the character itself--outside of the "Seikan" 
context--have been viewed in a wholly negative light by Koreans themselves?

For the million-dollar question--when "Han" and "bando" were put together 
and for what reason--I can provide no answer.  If the combined term first 
appeared in, say, a geographical text--be it Japanese, Korean, or even 
Chinese--it may have been a purely neutral, analytical coinage.  If it were 
introduced by a polemicist in order to avoid distinguishing Korea with its 
proper name--Choso^n, at least until 1897--well, that would be a different 

Yours sincerely,
Stefan Ewing

>From: "Christopher Liao" <liao.christopher at gmail.com>
>Reply-To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
>To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>Subject: [KS] A Question about the term hanbando
>Date: Tue, 9 May 2006 09:59:29 +0900
>*A Question about the term hanbando*
>Dear listmembers,
>Im Dae-sik, the head editor of yŏksa pipy'ŏng had asked me to translate 
>the following and to solicit your opinions about the word "the Korean 
>Christopher Liao
>I'm curious about the origins of the term *hanbando *(韓半島). Korea is 
>also known by the name "hanbando." This name also appears in the article 
>regarding sovereign territory in the South Korean constitution. It 
>collectively refers to the two Koreas and distinguishes the two from other 
>nations and nationalities. South Koreans are instilled with a sense of 
>ethnic pride when they vocalize the word *hanbando*. I am curious about the 
>origins of this word.
>I am guessing this term was first used or popularized by the Japanese as 
>early as the 1900s. I have seen *hanbando *in the title of Japanese books 
>published during this time.
>*Hanbando* is a combination of *han* and *bando*. Here the meaning of *han* 
>differs from the South Korean meaning of "Korea," and the Japanese usage of 
>this Chinese character carried connotations of derogation towards Korea. As 
>evidenced by the inclusion of this Chinese character in the combinations 
>such as "三韓征伐論" (*sankan seibatsuron* in Japanese) and 
>"征韓論" (*seikanron* in Japanese), it tends to consider "Korea" in an 
>inferior light. If we take a look at Japanese documents before the Meiji 
>Reformation, instead of *Ch**ōsen*, we find that *Han* was actually used 
>more widely to refer to Korea. The Japanese usage of *Han *was similar to 
>the Korean usage of *wae* (倭) to refer to Japan from a position of 
>Moving on to *bando*, I am guessing that it is a Japanese translation of 
>the English word "peninsula." Although a peninsula is certainly not an 
>island, there is a high possibility that "peninsula" was originally coined 
>by the Japanese to mean "semi-island" due to Japan's worldview derived from 
>its existence as an island nation. Both China and South Korea use the word 
>*bando *to refer to a peninsula. I infer that this Japan-centric 
>translation of this word is widely used throughout the 
>Chinese-character-cultural sphere.
>I am interested in how the term *bando* came to be translated from the 
>English word "peninsula" and what process it went through before settling 
>firmly within the languages of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. I am also 
>interested in soliciting your views on an alternative translation of the 
>English word "peninsula."

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