Here’s a question for you all…
I’ve now been in Korea three months, and while I understand national pride is a trait found in every country… I don’t understand Korea’s youth ignorant pride and current trend to shun 漢字 (Hanja, Hanzi, or Kanji) by any other pronunciation.
For example… I live in 한남동, or Hannam-dong, or more appropriately 漢南洞…. Which means “China”, “South”, and “Caves”… So it wouldn’t be a stretch to call it “Caves of South China”.
Some Korean translators have told me that “Hannam” was only named such because of its location inbetween the Namsan and Han River…. And here’s where I start to chuckle. Even by this explanation, supposedly the name comes from the names of those two locations… Let’s take a look at the 漢字… We have:
Namsan or 南山 for South Mountain
Han River or 漢江 for Chinese River.
Now, I won’t say each, or every time, but when I have talked about the spelling of the Han River, Koreans will automatically attempt* to write 韓 for “Korea”… And when I tell them they are wrong… They get upset and try to defend it saying it’s the Korean River. I ask them to look it up, and they (the upset ones) will continue just to deny the correct spelling, say I am wrong, and continue to get offended.
I then ask that if they are so offended by their own official spelling of Han (China, not Korea), then why don’t they stage a protest or movement and attempt to change world opinion like they keep attempting to do with 竹島 (Takeshima), 日本海 (Sea of Japan), or the 黄海 (Yellow Sea).
*Note: I’ll put this here to not further digress, but to emphasize the point I make above–that the ~30 and below generation of Koreans do not know how to write Chinese words used in the Korean language… Or even know which word is really Korean or not. For example, one of the words most associated with Korean culture is: 감사합니다 (kamsahabnida) means thank you (with a korean ending making it a polite word)…. But this is not a Korean word. The same word exists in both Japanese and Chinese–because it is a Chinese word 感謝… Meaning a feeling of thanks. The Japanese (young and old) acknowledge the words that are Chinese in nature… So why don’t the younger Koreans? (Older Koreans I’ve spoken to at least acknowledge words that come from China, but have still debated the spelling of Han River)