[KS] Is the word "외국인" an instance of "和製漢語"? (Redux)

Kirk Larsen kwlarsen67 at gmail.com
Tue Mar 25 19:10:17 EDT 2014

It is my understanding that the conception of *neifu* (內服) which is
sometimes glossed as the “inner realm” or “inner territories” and its
opposite *waifu* (外服) has a long and storied history of usage in China that
goes all the way back to the Zhou if not the Shang.

Such terms were still in usage during the Qing. Some Qing officials
grappled with the precise status of Chosŏn Korea and came to the conclusion
that although Chosŏn was not technically part of the *neifu* (內服), its
inhabitants were so close to China in terms of culture and politics that it
constituted a special case. In 1887, King Kojong sent a mission to China
thanking the Qing for its efforts to resolve the Kŏmundo/Port Hamilton
affair and for regarding Korea as if it were part of the *neifu* (內服).

This is, of course, not the same as applying 內 and 外 to states (國),
particularly in the modern, Westphalian definition of the term. However, it
seems to me that the內/外 distinction between polities/territory that are
“us” and those that are “not us,” probably goes back long before the


Kirk Larsen

On Sat, Mar 22, 2014 at 12:07 AM, J.Scott Burgeson <jsburgeson at yahoo.com>wrote:

> Dear List Members:
> This is a follow-up message to the previous discussion on the origin of
> the word "외국인," specifically in the modern sense. I went to the Central
> Library of Yonsei last weekend and could find nothing of relevance in any
> of the books devoted to Korean etymologies (perhaps because the word "외국인"
> is comprised of Chinese characters and therefore is not considered pure
> Korean)? I also looked at all the major, classic 국어 dictionaries published
> since 1945 and almost all of them said that "외국인" was the opposite of "내국인"
> (they used this symbol: "<––––>"). Some of the dictionaries gave that as
> the second meaning, some at the end of the main definitions.
> (Interestingly, my 1998 Si-sa Elite 한영 dictionary makes no note of "내국인"
> next to its definition of "외국인," nor does my 1986 Minjungseorim Essence
> Korean-English dictionary, but it would take more time to see if "내국인" gets
> dropped more frequently from definitions of "외국인" in more recent Korean
> dictionaries.)
> I next went to the Center for Korean Classics Collection on the 5th floor,
> which contains antique and historical Korean books. The staff there,
> however, said that there were few Korean-language dictionaries produced
> during the Choson Period, and suggested I look at early dictionaries
> compiled by foreigners. Perhaps the oldest one of that period is a
> French-Korean dictionary from 1880, and although it does not have the word
> "외국인" it does have a single entry for "외국," defining it as "royaume
> etranger," which is interesting because they use the word for "kingdom"
> instead of the more modern-sounding "state." It had no entry for "내국인" but
> it did list "내인" meaning "palace servant girl," the significance of which I
> will expand on below.
> The next major source I could find is Gale's 1897 Korean-English
> dictionary, which does not list "외국인" but does list "외국" ("foreign
> states"), and adds, "See 타국." The characters for "타국" are "他國," and he
> defines "他" as "다를 타," as do all major Korean dictionaries today (of
> course, "他"is also the common pronoun "he" or "she" in Chinese). Meanwhile,
> he adds here, "See 이국," the characters for which are "異國" ("異" meaning "다를
> 이"). So there are at least three different terms for "foreign" in Gale, and
> I will explain the importance of this later. Of more interest, however, are
> his entries for "내" or "內." He gives definitions such as "내국"or "內局" ("The
> royal pharmacy"), with "내" having the connotation or "royal" or "palace"
> (which jibes with the aforementioned "내인"), and in fact there are quite a
> few words meaning "royal" or "palace," and others which mean the inside of
> a house, but none that have the meaning of "state," with the possible
> exception of "내부대신" or "Home Minister."
> However, Gale is interesting because he also has editions from 1911, 1924
> and 1931, and as time passes, "외국인" appears (1911), and more importantly,
> "내" begins to be used more frequently in association with words that mean
> "state" or "country" ("나라" as he puts it), such as "내국교환" or "內國交換"
> ("Domestic exchange," 1911 edition), and when we get to 1931, "내국" appears
> meaning "One's own country" and the opposite of "외국." There a quite a few
> other words that conjoin "內" with "國" at this point, and a 1928
> Korean-English dictionary by 김동성 also has numerous entries for "내국" meaning
> "one's own country" or "domestic."
> So here are my two preliminary conclusions:
>    1. I did a keyword search in the online version of "조선왕조실록" (results at
> the bottom of this message), and prior to the modern period, "타국인" and
> "이국인" get quite a few hits along with "외국인" (I searched in both Chinese and
> Korean). Indeed, "외국인" appears in largest numbers at the very end of
> Choson, while "이국인" and "타국인" are more evenly distributed, with "이국인"
> getting the most references during the reign of 선조. These days "이국인" and
> "타국인" are hardly in common usage, and what's interesting is that they do
> not have the same "in-group" vs. "out-group" nuance that "외국인" has. I know
> it's risky to generalize from just a few dictionaries – I looked at a dozen
> pre-1945 Korean-English dictionaries in all, including Underwood's "Concise
> Dictionary of the Korean Language" (1890) and J.C Lee's "Dictionary of
> Foreign Words in Modern Korean" (1937) – but it does seem that "외국인" became
> standardized during the Japanese colonial period, so that after 1945, it
> was commonly understood to mean the opposite of "내국인."
>    2. I also did a keyword search for "內國人" in "조선왕조실록" and got just four
> hits (and 34 for "내국인," but I'll have to go more carefully through the
> results and see if they use the same Chinese characters.) And as Gale's
> dictionaries suggest, it seems that usage of the character "內" with "國"
> only becomes more common after 1910, whereas before that "內" often had the
> connotation of "palace" or "royal." Again, this suggests that the term "內國"
> became standardized during the Japanese period, and as I have noted above,
> this is important because after 1945 the term "內國人" is used in dictionaries
> to mean the opposite of “外國人” and vice versa. I should also note that I did
> a search in a 17th-18th Century Chinese-Korean dictionary with the help of
> staff from the Center for Korean Classics Collection and we could not find
> any mention of "內國." There are several more online here, including the one
> we checked, but since they don't use pinyin it's cumbersome to search for
> individual words and will take more time:
>    http://www.hangeulmuseum.org
>    I think my next step is to check Chinese-language books that have
> etymologies of Chinese words, just to see if the word "內國人" was commonly
> used in China in the premodern period. (My hunch is that it wasn't.)
>    So my question is really this: Does anyone think I'm barking up the
> right tree in assuming that tracking the evolution of the term "내국인" is
> the best way to look at the etymology or development of the term “외국인” in
> Korean? Remember, my task is to determine if the term “외국인” became
> standardized in Korea in accordance with Japanese usage, rather than via
> Chinese usage. If I can determine that "內國人" was not commonly used in
> premodern China, and is most likely Japanese-coined, would that be as close
> as I can get to a "smoking gun," given the difficulty of finding a proper
> etymology of the term “외국인”? Any thoughts would be most appreciated!
>    Cheers,
>               Scott
> PS: Gale's 1897 dictionary is available online here:
> https://archive.org/details/KoreanEnglishDictionary
> 조선왕조실록 Searches:
> 1a. “外國人”: 107 combined hits,  76 concentrated during reigns of 고종 (62)
> and 순종 (14)
> 1b. “외국인”: 289 combined hits, 188 during reigns of 고종 and 순종
> 2a. “他國人”: 36 combined hits, more evenly distributed but most appearing
> during reign of 고종 (15)
> 2b. “타국인”: 42 combined hits, more evenly distributed but most appearing
> during reign of 고종 (18)
> 3a. “異國人”: 43 combined hits,  more evenly distributed but most appearing
> during reign of 고종 (14)
> 3b. “이국인”: 185 hits, far more evenly distributed but most appearing during
> reign of 선조 (31)
> 4a. “內國人”: 4 combined hits
> 4b. “내국인”: 34 combined hits, only one during reigns of 고종 and 순종.
> 2014 Google searches:
> 1. "외국인" gets 15.6 million hits
> 2. "타국인" gets 489,000 hits
> 3. “이국인” gets 87,000 hits

Kirk W. Larsen
Department of History
Director, Academic Programs and Research
David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies
2151 JFSB
Provo, UT 84602-6707
(801) 422-3445
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