[KS] p'urakch'i

Adam Bohnet mixoparth at yahoo.ca
Tue Jun 17 18:54:25 EDT 2008

Thank you for your responses. Since I have already wasted the time of the list, I should make myself a bit clearer. I was aware of the origin of "p'urakchi" in Russian (which I do not read), and its relationship also to similar terms in other European languages for a radical fraction subverting an organization. I did in fact check it in naver.com and even terrestrial dictionaries in such languages as I can read. . I say this only to  justify my unjustifiable self and show that it was not from laziness alone that I e-mailed the list. (although my dictionary work was one enthusiastic day about a year ago, perhaps resulting in my poor spelling of the term!).
The definition in naver.com treats p'urakch'i as only secondarily "spy" but primarily entryist fraction. Actually, the dictionary definition more or less mirrors that which I found in dictionaries of the European languages I checked, in which the term is defined exclusively as entryist fraction. I rather suspect that the Korean dictionary in this case simply lifted a definition from European dictionaries, as this hardly seems to reflect contemporary Korean usage, although the Kukhoe P'urakchi sagon of 1949 was one famous case of entryism (or was represented as such a case by the Rhee regime). 
In any case, I could not find European languages which allowed for "agent provocateur" or "police informant." Yet among the 386 crowd and with other Koreans as well, my experience is that "police informant" or "agent provocateur" are the primary meanings of the term. I don't think one refers to a student organizing a labour union in a factory as a p'urakch'i, despite the naver definition, while a student working with the police to implicate other students in crimes would be described as a p'urakch'i. It is of course quite reasonable for the meaning to change in that way. I am just interested that it did, and wonder if this is an exclusively Korean phenomenon, or if this was more widespread in European languages.
In any case, sorry to waste your time with a hobby horse of this sort, far removed from my actual research. Please disregard.

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