North or South Korean translation

The Sunday paper last week had a great article by Choe Sang-Hun of the International Herald Tribune about how the Korean language differs between North and South Korea.

For example, South Koreans may think that North Koreans are rude when they respond "ilupsopneda" when asked "how are you doing?" In the North, the response means "I'm fine, thanks" whereas in the South it means "mind your own business".

Other examples include the following:

  • Squid means octupus in the South; Octupus means squid in the North.
  • "Mije" means "American Imperialist" in the North and "made in America" in the South.
  • "Sooryong" in the North means "honorific" and only references Kim Jong Il, the regime's leader; in the South it means the head of a gang of bandits or any political faction.
  • "Pukgoe" means "North Korean puppet regime in the South and there is no word for that in the North.
  • "Helicopter" is a word used in the South, whereas the North Koreans say "vehicle that goes straight up after takeoff".

The differences in the language come from six decades of living across tightly sealed borders where all communication is banned (including TV watching, reading, and talking to relatives). Lee Jae Kyu is secretary general of a South Korean government panel of linguists that is tasked with developing a unified dictionary by the year 2012 to rediscover common linguistic roots of the Korean language. He says that they "negotiate and leave out words with too much of a political problem" and "leave out many of the foreign words South Koreans have indiscriminately adopted."

For more information about Korean language translation services, contact Rapport International.

Wendy Pease
Rapport International

Categories: Culturally Appropriate, Quality, Updates & Fun


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