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Spelling "Corea" vs "Korea"


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"The King: Eternal Monarch" is a current dramatization of a fictional depiction of modern-day Korea which includes the original English language spelling of the country, "Corea." While many people feel that this could have been a possible change due to ensuring the "fantasy" aspect of the show, there has been valid and understandable implications of the origination of the country's English-language name. First, a small prologue:

 

As most people know (and ESL students gripe over), the English language is probably the most inconsistent major language in the words when it comes to associating letters and letter groups with sounds. One such incongruity is the letter "C." Disregarding words like "Gucci" and other unique phrases, the letter "C" has two main sounds: one that emulates "S" as in "celery" and "receive" (soft "C"), and the other that emulates "K" as in "can" and "tonic" (hard "C"). "Corea" is pronounced with the hard "C" sound, and is a homonym of "Korea."

 

While the history of Korea is as comprehensive (and in many ways, controversial) that also affects how the name of the country became known, this post will strictly deal with the name conventions leading to the current 

 

Korea had undergone a slew of changes in the English language. Starting with Marco Polo in the 13th Century, the names have undergone several changes which show a progression of etymology: Cauli, Caule, Core, Cory, Caoli, and Corai; which finally devolved into "Corea." The first known use of "Korea," however, was used by the East Indies Trading Company's chronicler, Hendrick Hamel, who wrote "Hamel's Journal and a Description of the Kingdom of Korea, 1653-1666" (published in 1668). However, this was actually written in Dutch, which in the 17th century predominantly used the letter "K" instead of "C" (for the hard "C" sound). Whether or not that effect held significant implications on modern day usage, though, is not known.

 

Up through the late 19th Century, "Korea" and "Corea" had been used interchangeably without malice or malevolent intent. In the late 19th century, as America started to assert its influence (some say "dominance") in the Pacific Theater, Horace Allen, the consul general to Korea, used the term "Korea" in his writings, to which the Korean commissioner had validated the spelling (I suspect, though, in deference to American trade goodwill). Postage stamps, which used the English spelling "Corean Post," itself changed to "Korean Post" in 1885.

 

Even so, the split was still inherent, though the migration from "C" to "K" was obvious to notice. But then the Japanese invaded, and took over Korea for intended colonization. In doing so, they mandated the change from "Corea" to "Korea," ostensibly to ensure that "Japan" appeared before "Korea," as opposed to trailing "Corea," in English alphabetical order. This "forcing" of the name change, whether intended or not, was associated with atrocities committed by Japanese occupiers, and though the US and its allies liberated Asia from Japanese as a result of World War 2, the "K" was pretty much used throughout the war by the world's English-speaking press, and has continued since. Ironically, there is no direct proof that the Japanese indeed used this excuse; more than likely, they promulgated the use of "Korea" anyway through their diplomatic efforts with the West prior to the war. The occupation was damning enough, frankly.

 

So to summarize, there are three distinct reasons which explain the transformation of the name "Korea:" through original European colonial naming habits, through American economic influence, and finally, through Japanese occupation compliance. Several South Korean lawmakers introduced a bill in the early 2000's to officially revert the English language name to "Corea." It had the added benefit of allowing them to communicate and even hold a joint meeting in Pyongyang with the North Koreans, whose dictators were even MORE insistent that the English version use the "C." But nothing came of it in the end.

 

Nowadays, the usage is on a minor resurgence at the "Resistance" level, as globalists would prefer to use the name "Corea." You will more than likely see that term used more in more, and if reunification occurs, there may be an impetus to do so to fully embrace the renewed peninsular entity. So, ironically, Donald Trump is the most likely progenitor of the reversion of the name "Corea." Say what you will about that, but politics are beyond the scope of my presence here on Soompi.

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