Seoul Changes Chinese Name

The city of Seuol changed its Chinese name from Hancheng 汉城 to Shouer 首尔. It is interesting to me. Personally, I don’t think the new name looks nicer than the previous one. Maybe it is because I didn’t get used to it yet. Meawhile, I think it is their own choice and everyone should respect their choices. People in China also has the right to call it either Hancheng or Shou’er, depending on how it is more comfortable for them. Anyway, I don’t understand the real reason behind the name change – why?

57 Comments

  1. 汉城是因为临汉江而得名.

    汉城改名启示韩国强大民族自尊心,

  2. Because the chinese name doesnt sound anything to their real name which is Seoul? People in China can call Seoul anything they want, but it wont be correct anymore if its not Shou er. But I think the name Han Cheng for the Koreans is derogatory, as Han means Chinese race and Cheng means city, so in essence chinese people is calling the capital of Korea a Chinese city which for sure would upset many Koreans. So it is perfectly understandable and not a big deal at all. Its their city and their right.

  3. Korean surely have the right to call their capital whatever they like to call, or change the “Chinese Name” of Seoul they use (if they are still officially using any Chinese characters). But I do not think China and its people have the obligation to switch to the same Chinese name Korean want. After all it’s about how Chinese use Chinese. We call San Francisco 旧金山, which has nothing to do the meaning or the pronounciation.

    BTW, “Seoul” originated from ancient Chinese as well.

  4. (ZZ)

    南朝鲜政府现在要求我们叫他们的城市”首尔”, 妄图让我们在文字上俯首称臣,

    玩弄恶心人的恶作剧。和当年北京机场的无汉字韩文广告一样,是对我们的羞辱

    和捉弄,是卑鄙无耻的小人的极度狭隘的变态行为。 他们把他们的所谓

    “KOREAN AIRLINES”翻译成”大韩航空”,中国人厚道忠厚,天天叫他

    “大韩””大韩”没和他计较辈份儿,结果这帮xxx没完了还来强迫我们怎么说汉语。

    那好,坚决要求我们停止使用”大韩航空”的称呼,而是直接使用英文

    KOREAN ALINES的直接翻译:高丽航空。坚决反对使用”大韩民国”

    而是使用”高丽共和国”。

  5. (ZZ)

    南朝鲜政府现在要求我们叫他们的城市”首尔”, 妄图让我们在文字上俯首称臣,

    玩弄恶心人的恶作剧。和当年北京机场的无汉字韩文广告一样,是对我们的捉弄,

    是小人行为。 他们把他们的所谓”KOREAN AIRLINES”翻译成”大韩航空”,

    中国人厚道忠厚,天天叫他”大韩””大韩”没和他计较辈份儿,结果这帮XXX没完了

    还来强迫我们怎么说汉语。那好,坚决要求我们停止使用”大韩航空”的称呼,

    而是直接使用英文KOREAN ALINES的直接翻译:高丽航空。坚决反对使用

    “大韩民国”而是使用”高丽共和国”。

  6. it is interesting that they will change their name, I didn’t hear this before…hmm, I guess I really don’t have an opinion about it, as it is not really all that important, I think most people will still call it “Han Cheng…” Anyways, with the announcement in the summer that they wanted to move the capital entirely, I think this is a far less important decision.

  7. 韩国人再一次的把他们可怜的,无处不在的自卑展示在世界面前了。如果汉城不叫汉城,而是不列颠城或者美利坚城,不会有人想要该的。不过可怕的是现在中国人在这点上不比高丽人好到哪去。

  8. I encourage diversity of oppinions on this site. However, I have to clearly state that I do NOT agree with any of the arguement that the reason for people in Korea to change the name is just to insult people in China. Although I am curious about the reasons behind the change, since as a person who speaks Chinese, I don’t feel anything wrong with the name of Han Cheng, I respect the choice of people of the city or Korea. I believe it is rude to comment their name change as stupid or something alike.

    Meanwhile, people in China and other countries may still use the original name. People in Korea should not comment it too. Korea didn’t say others must follow the change. They can request the change though. People have their own choice. It is common that people choose a name with good meaning for their own country or city. Just as the Chinese name for China is Zhong Guo 中国, which means the central country, although it is not the central of the world. Understand that so we don’t treat everything in a negative way.

    Sorry for being direct on this.

  9. I agree with Jian Shuo fully, Korea cannot do anything about what chinese people call Seoul, but they did request it be called Sou er. I understand it because they dont want the chinese people to confuse it with anything related to China. I mean if Chinese people call a city with names that others are not comfortable with, dont you think they have a right to complain? As a Chinese would you like it if Japanese called Beijing, Re Ben Cheng among themselves? Even if it was not an official name, chinese wouldnt like it. So think about that and understand their feelings.

  10. I am a little bit uncomfortable about the words, which Ted & Rooselvet choose to use: “Wang Tu”, “Jian Jiu”,”Wan Nong” … It remind me too much about “Da Zi Bao” period. Everyone deserve their own opinion, but the reasoning has to show some respect.

  11. (ZZ)

    最近北京市的出租车终於推出了新车型,就是南朝鲜的现代车,

    2001年年底左右,南朝鲜的现代公司当年通过其在北京市政府内的内线得知

    一项重要的经济情报,即为了改善北京市区2008奥运会时的环境,北京市政府

    要将首都钢铁公司迁往远郊,同时准备上马半导体项目来安置首钢人员,并弥

    补搬迁造成的税收损失。现代和南朝鲜当局认为这个半导体企业会是对南朝鲜

    企业的威胁,於是利用各种卑劣手段,鼓动北京市当局上马汽车项目,和现代

    合资,实际是让中方出钱在北京组装南朝鲜现代品牌的汽车,这样一举多得,

    首钢半导体项目流产,南朝鲜汽车得以进入中国,并且控制了2008年北京

    奥运会的汽车市场,最为关键的是,对北京市领导层,进行了工作,由此

    进一步造成了南朝鲜所谓韩流在北京的肆意泛滥。

  12. I have thought about it and I think that there is a similarity with China after the switch from Wade-Giles to Pinyin the english spelling of cities changed (ie Peking to Beijing, Nanking to Nanjing, etc.). People in the west would see Peking and not think to say Beijing, but after the change, people slowly adopted the “new” pronounciations and spellings. While there are still people who use the old names, for the most part people have adopted the new version. Nobody is aware of the exact reasons why Korea decided on the name change or if it has anything to do with confusion, I think it does make it easier using a phonetic version of the name as I have a hard time connecting the Chinese and English names to Japanese cities. Hmm…then again, why don’t they just change the name from ?? to ???Whatever! I don’t think this needs to be treated as a major event or is worth arguing about…

  13. You might find some opinion in the book written by Qingdong Kong (孔庆东),a professor in Beijing University.

  14. You’ll find the official explanations for the name change in Chinese from the Chinese-language homepage of the Seoul Metropolitan government (http://chinese.seoul.go.kr/).

    What I’ve seen in the Korean media, it’s both the strong national pride (强大民族自尊心, like one commenter says above) added with explanations about the possible and actual misunderstandings. There are insitutions in Seoul and Korea which use the old name of the capital in their name, Hanseong/Hancheng (汉城) (like Hansung University), and those who use the present Korean name (like Seoul National University). This is said to have caused misunderstandings when correspondence to Seoul National University has been addressed to 韓城大學校, which is the Chinese character form of Hansung U.

    Of course all this is connected to the rise of the status of Republic of Korea in the world and its increased economic power – there’s the international standing to make this kind of request to the Chinese…

    I can’t recall the exact details behind the naming of the city to Hanseong (漢城/汉城) back in the early days of the establishment of the Chosôn (Joseon) dynasty in the late 14th c., but considering the relation of Korea to China during Joseon, naming the Korean capital (as well as the state of the new dynasty) was not unrelated to the Chinese opinion. And now the old 事大 relation with China still is behind this decision; the last vestiges of it need to be gotten away with! As I’ve been following this process in my own blog since last year, I could find an interview with the head of the renaming committee: he told that one reason in having the name changed was that the “character 城 was used mainly for the capitals of vassal and bordering states.”

  15. I think Chinese like Ted has a major problem in the way they think. What’s wrong with such people? Why do they always have to spin issues negatively? Why do they always have such Chinese superiority complex?

  16. As a Chinese, it is sad to see the way people like Ted reason. It is even sadder to see the similar line of think in public media or even official news reports.

  17. I apologize for these improper citations. it is marked with ZZ, meaning copied from other people’s articles (Zhua3 Zai3).

  18. I apologize for these improper citations. it is marked with ZZ, meaning copied from other people’s articles (Zhua3 Zai3).

  19. I remember the Koreans calling their main river in Seoul, Han Gang – written in Chinese, it is Han Jiang (Han River) corresponding to Han Cheng (Han City). I guess they will probably rename that too :)

  20. 改呀,绝对支持,最好把他们的姓都改了,连自己姓什么都忘记了,最好!

  21. I have no comment on this issue. Let it be.

  22. The book written by Prof. Kong is <独立寒秋〉.

  23. I just heard that Seoul will changed to Shou’er several days ago. And this surprised me. I do’t think that Shou’er is better than Seoul. Maybe we are used to using 汉城 for most of the years. I heard that from one of my classmates, and he said that the Korea governmet thought that the “汉” sounds like China, and the name really have nothing with Seoul. In other counties, people call “Seoul”, and only in China we call it by Chinese. The changing of the name is only in China.

    Actually, in Korean language, “서울”(Seoul) doesn’t have the meaning of a name. The meaning of “Seoul” is “capital”. From this we can see, that Korea’s capital doesn’t have a name. They just call it “capital”. As we know that there is a river cross the city, so we call the city by the name of the river (汉江), and then they have “汉城”. Korean people use the name of a long time and now they wanna changed it. I really don’t know what they are thinking about.

    Just let it be. I won’t change my mind and call it “Shou’er”.

  24. There has in fact been a plan to change the first Chinese character of the river flowing through Seoul as well from 漢(汉) to 韓(韩). That was last spring, and I haven’t heard of it since. It wouldn’t change much in Korea, as the Korean pronunciation wouldn’t change, and Chinese characters are used very rarely nowadays in everyday life – so that many Koreans would think that the Han in the name of the river is 韓(韩) anyway.

    There has been another change which has perhaps not been done by any official decision but gradually: “hanyak” (Kor) (hanyao?) or “Eastern medicine” which originally also in Korea has been 漢藥(汉药) has been changing to 韓藥(韩药). In my printed dictionary from 2001 it’s the former, but in the online dictionary of the National Academy of Korean Language it’s the latter. (In Google, 漢藥 gives still much more Korean-language hits than 韓藥…)

  25. If any chinese is offended by this change of a democratic country city name (only by another foreign language pronounciation) please leave a comment.

    My capitol is Copenhagen, but in fact it is “København”, and noone can change that.

  26. The simple truth is that it’s going to be hard for me to switch over to this new name. I get the “shou” part, but the “er” part, to me, just elicits a response of “err… ….”

  27. Who cares? Those small contries are always fond of chaning their names, like Mianma to Burma, Holland to Nederlands…

    China used to be father country of many surrounding small countries, we never forced anyone to join the Great China, much like in Europe, via marriage with royal family to hold the crown in one piece.

    Personally, I really don’t care someone want to be within China like HongKong, so if British are happy to take them, be my guest and take it, :-)

  28. 漏斗子 “韩国首都改名后的称呼问题备忘录” (ZZ)

    朝鲜半岛的历史,就是中国历史的副产品或者说得露骨一点,就是中国历史地方史、诸侯

    史。这即使无奈也是事实,历史就是历史。

    一、在结束日本占领以前,朝鲜半岛是通用汉字的。朝鲜光复后,南北差不多同时取消使用

    汉字,已显现与朝鲜民族自强和独立而相应的文化上独立性。

    五十多年过去了,韩国发现新一代受教育的年轻人因不懂汉字,看不懂光复以前的朝鲜历

    史上的文学作品、历史著作甚至官方档案,出现了文化的断层。在韩国和朝鲜所说的”代沟”

    与我们不一样,是指懂汉字和不懂汉字的两代人之间的思维差异。朝鲜情况不明,在韩国,

    年轻一代成了没有文化根的”草头人族”,要他们弘扬朝鲜文化,那就是被美国化以后的韩

    国浮萍文化。要真正弘扬高丽文化就要懂汉字。前总统金大中在一九九八年发布总统令,在

    韩国中小学恢复汉字教学,列入课本的约近两千个汉字。

    三、八十年代,中韩举行建交谈判时,韩国向中方提出,两国建交后,中方不能再继续使用

    “汉城”这个称呼。理由是,汉城的名字是中国古代的叫法,是中国人给起的,是殖民主义、

    霸权的产物。建交后,中方必须改称汉城为韩国人起的名字,应叫SEOUL。中方表示,汉城

    的名字由来以久,历史上韩国人也这么叫,一旦叫中方改称SEOUL,中国的史籍、尤其是

    教科书和地图等的改正,牵扯的面儿太多,实际实行起来困难重重。

    但韩国就是不肯答应,两国的建交谈判就僵在这儿。这个问题最后是怎么解决的呢?说来好

    笑,为打开局面,中国的学者开始查找历史书,结果发现,SEOUL也是中国给起的,其历

    史比汉城的叫法还要早,中国史书里用的是”苏坞”,和SEOUL的发音极其相似。面对史实,

    韩国人这才哑口无言,只好接受中方汉城的叫法。

    我的观点是,韩国人把他们的首都叫什么,是他的事情。我们要翻译成什么汉语,是我们的

    事情,说大一点,这是主权,说小一点,是话语权。

  29. Yes we can call their city whatever we want, but if they choose to change their name, why don’t we respect it and try to follow it…

    …after all, there are other names for China, e.g. 猪那 (Zhu Na), which do sound like “China” in English, but it wouldn’t be nice for all foreigners to use this, would it?

  30. The Koreans are in denial that they are Chinese. Get over it!

  31. I’m a Chinese from HK. The change of Chinese name for ‘Seoul’ is Korean’s right and we should respect it. If possible we should use the new name. This would improve communication between two country’s people and it shows to Korean that we are friendly with them.

    Please don’t raise this issue to the level of racism. This is not necessary and not sensible. If we have confident on ourselves, we should not be over-reacting in this case.

  32. It is time to let the Chinese govt know that they must follow international practice. If they continue to use insulting names like Jiujinshan, tanxianshan, haishenwei, hancheng, etc, we should call Shenyang Mukden, Guangzhou canton, and the Japanese should call it shina. There is nothing special about Chinese, it is very easy to transliterate.

  33. If the Chinese ‘Han’ 汉 character in the capital name really bothered the South Koreans, they could have changed it to 韩 and retained the 城. So 汉城 –〉韩城.

    Shou’er 首尔 is just wrong. Reminds me of 何首乌. Not only should capital names be easy to remember, it should sound elegant and reflect the city’s uniqueness. A purely phonetic translation of capital names of China’s neighboring Asian countries will sometimes rob the meaning of the names.

    Eg. Vietnam – Hanoi 河内 (Inner River)

    Japan – Tokyo 东京 (Eastern Capital)

  34. gimfong cheung

    May 11, 2005 at 1:54 am

    All this fighting of 漢字/漢文 just makes me sick. I am chinese and I think the real problem here is simplified characters (簡體字)。Korea is Korea. It’s their country, and chinese have no right to complain. However, I will complain over the bastardization of the chinese language by 毛澤東 (Mao) and his buddies. 毛澤東 destroyed the chinese language by hacking to death the most beautiful written language in the world. The true meanings of the 漢字 are torn apart in the name of modernization and simplification. I call it being ashamed of your past!! I see people complaining about the 漢字 for Seoul being changed, but I think Chinese should be embarrassed because 大韓民國 (ROK) at least uses the original 漢字 unlike the sorry excuse for 漢字 we have today. If anyone says that the easy 漢字 is better because it allows more people to write and read is just full of it. If that were true, then HK (香港)and Taiwan (臺灣) should be illiterate havens full of poor people with little economic power.

  35. what racist pieces of crap you people are you people writing? and you call yourself chinese, i’m ashame!! we have been put down so long by others that now we have the economic power to express ourself and this is what you people put up!!!!

  36. I believe the reason that the Koreans want Chinese to call Seoul “Shou er ” instead of “Hancheng” is because they feel Hancheng is a degrading name. However, I have a different view of this. It is undeniable that there is a close tie between Chinese and Koreans historically. Our cultures, thoughts and behaviors are very similar. I respect the Korean’s decision. However, if the decision is to cut the tie between China and Korea, then it is totally unnecessary. Personlly, when I see the name Hancheng, I don’t think of it as a city of China or feeling the Chinese superority. Instead, I feel it is an identifiable name that makes me feel close to the Korean people. I have had many Korean friends and I always felt that they are us. I am currently watching a Korean TV series. Honestly, with the translations I almost can’t tell it is a foreign series. Chinese and Korean should remain brothers as we always were in the last two thousand years and don’t let a small thing like changing a name of a city affect us.

  37. Why is this such a big problem anyways? I hate it when ppl make all these things such a big issue when it isn’t… People change names and they expect to be called that way.. how would you feel if you changed yor name because you really wanted ppl to call you that adn ppl ignore you? People are so stupid sometimes.. I don’t know the reason but seriously.. who cares?????? Koreans have their roots and is influenced by china… It’s their right, period

  38. Hey look, if China were strong and wealthy like the USA, hell no, like much richer, more civilized and more respected than the USA, then no Korean would think of changing their city’s Chinese name. It’s time China smartened up, quit whining about “too many Chinese”, and start letting its people get rich and get ahead. Of course, the turkeys called “intellectuals” in China just don’t get this. To them, it’ll take the Chinese, when all Chinese are super smart and super ahead of everyone else everywhere else in the world but China–it’s gotta be the system, man–50 more years just to catch up with the standard of living of poor, puny countries like Portugal, never mind surpassing the USA! Shame, I say, shame!

  39. I think they wanted the change because Han Cheng (or the Hanja for it) is old. The name has changed and they want it acknowledged. It’s like calling Tokyo “Edo”, the former name. It’s not the proper name anymore.

  40. I thought the request from South Korea to change the name was odd, citing Chinese names for foreign places are as close phonetically as possible to the cities’ names in the native languages elsewhere, but not in the Korean case. I just felt it was like someone coming into my house and telling me that he/she does not like the position I placed my sofa and wants me to move it to a position he/she indicated. It is by all means the Chinese’s right to call something whatever name they want to call it by, this is their right to use their language.After all, I am sure the Koreans don’t call China exactly “Zhong Guo”. Besides, I don’t think how “Han Cheng” is a derogatory term, I’ve never thought of it as having a Chinese-related meaning, nor do I think of China when I see the term, I just think of the capital of Korea, and I’ve seen this term a zillion times.

  41. i agree with josh. the point is that ‘hanseong’ is the former name of the capital of korea. when korea decided to change the name to ‘seoul,’ the name should have been changed. i think that the chinese may have problems with this because ‘seoul’ is a native korean word, so it doesn’t have hanja/hanzi. i bet you that if the name of the capital had been changed to something composed of chinese characters, the chinese would not have kept the name ‘hancheng.’

    but take another example–in russia, there was a city called ‘leningrad.’ the russians changed the name to ‘sankt pyotrsburg’ (okay, that’s a really rough transliteration of the russian pronunciation). in english, we complied with this change, though with our own adaptation, namely ‘saint petersburg.’ it’s just respect for the other country.

    the example with copenhagen versus kobenhavn is not really relevant here. though copenhagen is not the danish name of the capital, it is the english version of the danish name. ‘hancheng’ is not the chinese version of ‘seoul.’ but in a semi-relevant tangent, when i was in copenhagen, someone corrected my pronunciation of the city. i pronounced it something like [ko.pen.hah.gen] and was informed that the danish preferred the pronunciation [ko.pen.hey.gen]. so, what did i do? i didn’t say, “hey, this is my language so i determine how the name will be pronounced.” i respect their preference and now pronounce it the second way.

    and i think that the argument that the chinese don’t think of china when they say ‘hancheng’ isn’t related either. in the netherlands, there is a sweet called ‘negerzoen’ or ‘negro kiss’. i’m sure no one thinks it’s derogatory when they say it–they just think of the delicious sweet that it refers to. but that doesn’t mean that it’s not derogatory…. they are changing the name to ‘schuimzoen’ or ‘foam kiss’.

  42. This is really simple…

    To: the chinese,

    would you like Japanese to call China, Chi-Na (chee na) the Japanese way?

  43. I think most people are confused. Seoul is the name of the captial city and still is even after the change of the Hanja. So *nothing* has changed on the Korean side. They changed the the Korean (defunct) Hanja and that’s absolutely fine. However it’s odd that Korea is asking other countries to use the “correct” Hanja for the name when it’s actually really out of their control. Other countries decide what is the most convenient for themselves to use, not the Koreans. And in Kanji countries, it isn’t wrong at all to still refer to Seoul to the more convenient name “Han Cheng”.

  44. get over it…its is people’s choice. It is high time for all chinese in china to reflect on their own inferior complex which is generating such STRONG NEGATIVE emotions… everyone has the RIGHT to be called what they are called.

    Just to illustrate my point, i have simple example here..I am called “Elaine” and I have an issue with chinese people calling me “E-ling” which is just so wrong….

    name is a symbol of a person…uit is what my parents wants to give their child(conversely what people in korean wants to give their country)…if you can’t respect taht then sorry..china shalle d be called chink-land

  45. I’ll go along with a noticable few (not all) that inflated their huge egos to mask a poor ‘inferiority complex’. Especially, the ones that recently made a little moolah & trying ever so desperate to look “磨登”.

    As for the correct pronounciation of your name, hmm, maybe they have a poor grasp of the Queen’s English? ;-) … On the lighter side, you could also insist on using your chinese given name for those that have trouble.

  46. I’ll go along with a noticable few (not all) that inflated their huge egos to mask a poor ‘inferiority complex’. Especially, the ones that recently made a little moolah & trying ever so desperate to look “磨登”.

    As for the correct pronounciation of your name, hmm, maybe they have a poor grasp of the Queen’s English? ;-) … On the lighter side, you could also insist on using your chinese given name for those that have trouble.

    Posted by: Jet So on April 3, 2007 03:02 PM

    —————————————————————————————

    why should I gave myself a chinese name just to please the chinese???? They are the guest in my country so they should learn to speak whatever I speak. period

  47. Respecting the name of a person is basic courtesy. I dont speak Spanish but I know the Spanish guy who sits beside me in class is called “wu…lio” and not “ju…lio” (Julio). Likewise, I dont pronounce the name of a chinese classmate called Meng An as a misspelt “Meagan”?

    Its time for Chinese to learn basic mannars

  48. Im referring to chinese as in people from china mainland not ABC or other foreign born chinese (as a request from my frenz..) haha..

  49. It’s a wee bit extreme in condemning all mainlanders as having no manners (or for that matter in not pronouncing your name correctly). Just like those sycophants who constantly harp all is good & well in the Motherland. Remember, most were screwed over badly during the late 50s & 60s and lost any resemblance of politeness and common courtesy. Things to bear in mind while living here.

    Side note 1: It’s pronounced “Hulio” – H as in “How” and not J as in “Jewish” nor W as in “What”.

    Side note 2: I thought that you’re a S’porean of Chinese descent and living in China. My mistake then.

  50. Living in China????

    Hell no……………. I’m talking about people from china who lives overseas (in this context, its Australia).

    Well…… I asked my friend about his name and he confirmed its “Wu-lio” and not “Hu-lio”. Guess he knows his name much better than you???

  51. Hi Jet,

    Just to clear your doubt…. YES I am Sinagporean but I still don’t understand how that has got anything to do with the illustration that me and my friend drew upon (the issue regarding names)?

    In this case, I am talking about the basic respect for someone’s name so whether they are living in Singapore or Australia doesn’t change anything coz they are ONLY GUESTS in people’s place. If I am in China then yes, I may potentially use/make/come up with a Chinese name if appropriate just to make their lives easier (on the condition that it sounds anything similar to what my name originally means). However, that shouldn’t be the case if they are living elsewhere, isn’t it? Why should anyone else go out of their way to make life easier for people from China? If they don’t speak English then just keep their foot out of English-speaking countries. If they don’t speak Japanese then keep their foot out of Japan. Simple as that.

    Look, I don’t want to make anything sound personal. I am not some bigot out there who wants any attention to me or my friend’s name. All I was trying to say is that name is a symbol of a person, so respect it. The Koreans are not wrong to demand what they want the Chinese to call them. It is their name. It is their right. It is their choice, not the Chinese!

    Say for example, your name is “Jet”. Your parents gave you that name when you were born. Would you want to be called “Aeroplane” or “Helicopter” or even “Hot-air-balloon”? Would your parents want you to be called something they didn’t name you? I’m sure they don’t. And this remains the same irregardless of whether you are in Singapore or China.

    When I was in Japan, I didn’t make up a Japanese name for myself because any such name wouldn’t be me anymore. This is the same for “Seoul”. By any other name, “Seoul” just wouldn’t be “Seoul” anymore. The same way “Aeroplane” doesn’t refer to you nor does E-ling refer to me.

    PS: Please keep to the topic. We are talking about Soeul here. Peace

  52. Just a misunderstanding. I thought that you were living in China and appear to give the locals a hard time on silly pronounciations.

    BTW, I agree totally that “Han Cheng” should be called “Shou’Er”. Firstly, that’s for the Koreans to decide for themselves. Secondly & more practically, damn it doesn’t that sound more like Seoul?

    On a side complaint, why can’t those Government linguists ever change the chinese characters for Canada, Sweden and Switzerland, which are pronounced Jia-na-da, Rei-dian & Rei-shi in pinyin? Totally bizarre to say that in Mandarin but sounds fine in Cantonese!

    Cheers,

    Jet

  53. personally, i don’t quite absorb the idea of seoul changing its chinese name. why bother anyways? to enhance self-identity by enforcing precise local pronunciation by a foreign language? come on. relax. i would rather consider this as an act of losing identity by searching it in an inferior fashion.

    i didn’t see korean people change all the chinese names of their other cities, otherwise they could be busy. Han happens to coincide with “Han” ethnic group in china, which makes it sound as if it is a chinese city.

    is it also deemed offensive to americans by calling Holonunu 檀香山, san francisco 旧金山 and phoenix 凤凰城?

  54. Mumbai is still Bombay.

    Bollywood is not Mumblywood.

    Sideline:

    In Elaine’s bizarre world, there are NO chinese in Singapore.

    There are only Singaporeans…including people who just “happened” to look Chinky because of some misfortune.

  55. Makes me wonder…why on earth did they call themselves Han City in the first place. Not only, did they use the Chinese “Han”, they even added “city” after it.

  56. It is ridiculous for the Korean government to dictate the way how China calls their capital in Chinese language, which happens has been around and mutually accepted for thousands of years.

    It is not like from ‘Peking’ to ‘Beijing’, which is based on pinyin spelling system change. Korean excuse is that its English name is ‘Seoul’, so they create a Chinese equivalent for us. Which came first? When did Korea start to get English name?

    I am fed with this Chinese name dictation– in the case of Korea airlines and Korea Republic… Only the most insecure country would dream to add ‘great/grand’ in its Chinse spelling to feel good.

  57. How come almost all of you think that the name “Hancheng” was changed to “Shou’er” in 2005?

    “The city saw changing its name of Hanyang (漢陽) into Hansŏng (漢城) when it became the capital of the Chosŏn Dynasty in 1394 (It was known under this name in Chinese – Hancheng – until October 2005 when the city of Seoul requested Chinese government to call it Shou’er 首爾). It was renamed Kyŏngsŏng (京城 — Keijō in Japanese) at the time of the Japanese occupation, but upon the National Liberation on August 15, 1945, Kyŏngsŏng was renamed “Seoul,” a pure Korean word meaning “national capital,” which had been used since the Silla Kingdom of the Three Kingdom Period.”

    The South Korean government didn’t change the name of the modern-day country and the name of its capital recently; they already changed them from “Chosŏn” (Chaoxian in Pinyin) to “Republic of Korea” (Dahanminguo or Hanguo in short) and “Hansŏng” (Hancheng 漢城) or “Kyŏngsŏng” (Jingcheng 京城) to “Seoul” over sixty years ago.

    Not knowing this, most Chinese people had been calling this country “Nanchaoxian” and its capital “Hancheng” until recently.

    In the recent years, the South Korean government found out that most Chinese people still call their capital “Hancheng,” and they noticed that there has never been any Chinese characters to notate “Seoul,” so they decided to officially ask the Chinese government to call their capital “Shou’er” (the closest pronunciation of Seoul in Putonghua) with “首儿” or “首爾” instead of “Hancheng.” (If Chinese people called Japan’s capital by its former Tokugawa government’s capital “Edo” or something else than “Dongjing” (东京/東京) or “Tokyo,” they would’ve ask the same, too.)

    Regardless the time-frame or whatever the reason, some of you don’t seem happy that they decided to change the name of their capital from “Hancheng” or “Keijo” to “Seoul,” but that’s their choice. It’s like the modern-day China is no longer called “Qing” Dynasty, and “Edo” is not the name of Japan’s capital anymore.

    When a new, modern-day country is formed out of their last dynasty, they can call themselves (or their capital) whatever they want, so that they can distinguish themselves from their old kingdom.

    And Chen, about “Dahan Min’guo” or “Dahan Hangkong Gongsi”… Well, you have your freedom to say about “insecure country” and whatever, but at the same time, I think they also have freedom to name their country (I guess Korean Airline took the first two syllables of their country’s name.) with “great/grand,” so that they can “dream” about becoming a great nation.

    Actually, that small country of South Korea has already become the top four countries in Asia in terms of economy, haven’t they? (They used to be very poor right after the Korean War in 1953.) Also, did you know that they ranked the 7th in winning gold medals (4 more than Japan) at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing? I guess it pays to be positive. ^_^

    I had been in China over 3 years and have seen a very fast economic growth. (China’s GDP is the top 4 in the world right now.) I also watched the Olympic games (including the Opening Ceremony) in Beijing last summer, and I was amazed at how China won 51 gold medals (while USA won only 36 gold medals). Doesn’t it feel good to be part of a great nation?

    I think many other countries around the world also want to become a great nation. You know what I mean. ^_^

    – an American Sociology grad student who had studied in China and in South Korea before

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