Sunday, 29 March 2020

South Korea Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time I cast my net a little wider. As English place names share some links to other tongues it would be interesting to see if any of the elements contributing to our place names could be found elsewhere. Continuing an alphabetical tour of the world and a look at the largest South Korean cities.

Seoul is derived from Korean and simply means 'capital city', coming from the ancient word Seorabeol. This originally referred to Gyeongju, the capital of Silla, known by the Chinese as Geumseong meaning 'gold castle or city'.

Busan is from Sino-Korean and means 'cauldron mountain', likely the former name of Mount Hwangryeong. The same mountain is also thought to have given a name to the ancient state of Geochilsan-guk or 'rough mountain land'.

Daegu is a Korean name which translates as 'large hill'.

Daejeon was originally known as Hanbat, a Korean term meaning 'large field'. The present name has the same meaning, this from Hanja, the Korean name for Chinese characters - hence the written form.

Gwangju is from the Korean tongue where gwang means 'light' and ju 'province'.

Jeonju is similar to Gwangju in coming from jeon ju 'perfect region'.

Geoje is Korean for 'great rescue' - and before you ask, I have no idea.

Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.

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