This Question Came to My In Box: Why Do the Koreans call Korea Hangook, But the Rest of the World Calls It Korea?

To tell you the truth, that question was not worded so well when it came to me, but I know that is what they were asking. “Hangook” is the name of the country, Korea, but they said “Hangul” instead of “Hangook.” “Hangul” is the name for the Korean alphabet. “Hanja” is what they call “Chinese Characters” or “Kanji.” “Hangook Mal” is what they call the Korean language. The big river that runs through Seoul is called the Han River. There are also many Koreans with the family name of “Han.” God is even called “Hananim” meaning “The esteemed one.” However, the rest of the world calls Korea, “Korea” and their language “Korean.” It is because the name, “Korea,” came from the original name of Korea from over 5,000 years ago.

Northern India in what is now Bangladesh and Pakistan was along the old Silk Road.//Photo by Parv Choudhary on Pexels.com

If you have ever heard of the old Silk Road, it was a road of commerce that connected the East and the West in ancient times. Ancient Koreans used to travel that old Silk Road to do business in ancient times. At that time, their country was called “Gogoreyo.” In the Korean language, the letter “g” is often pronounced like a “k,” so the people along the old Silk Road heard “Kogoreyo” instead of “Gogoreyo” and began calling Korea “Korea.” The name caught on and went into the rest of the world. This kingdom was so big that it reached from the Korean Peninsula up into Manchuria, China, Mongolia, and even into Russia.They were “the great power” of the east.

Seoul is one of the oldest cities in the world. It possibly even existed during the time Korea was called
Gogoreyo. It is also the fourth largest city in the world.//Photo by Ethan Brooke on Pexels.com

After several thousands of years of being called “Gogoreyo,” Korea split up into three countries. They were called Shilla, Goreyo, and Bekjae. Shilla was located around Seoul. Bekjae was located in parts of China, Manchuria, and down around Busan. The rest of the Korean Peninsula was Goreyo. After a while, Shilla decided they should all become one country again and Shilla, the country around Seoul, eventually they conquered both Goreyo and Bekjae for them all to become one country again. “One” in Korean is “hana,” and “country” in Korean is “gook.” For example, they call America “Meegook.” That “gook” on the end means “country,” and the “Mee” that begins the word means “beautiful,” so they call America “Beautiful Country.” When the Koreans became one country again, they began calling themselves “One Country,” “Hangook.” They call Koreans “Hangook een” meaning “one country’s person.” Americans are called “Meegook een” meaning “the Beautiful Country’s person.” A foreigner is called “Oo-ey gook een” literally meaning “Outside Country’s person.” Another name they call their country is “Dehan meengook” or “Namhan.” “Dehan meengook” means “Great country people,” and “Namhan” means “One country.” Their language is made up of syllables, and they pull them apart and push them together with other words to make new words, so for them to call their country “Hangook” and a person from there “Hangook een” actually makes a lot of sense.

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