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What do Korea call themselves?


Korea is a country located in East Asia, known for its rich culture, history, and technological advancements. The country is divided into two sovereign states – North Korea and South Korea – but both share a common name, “Korea.” However, what do Koreans call themselves? This article aims to provide a comprehensive answer to this question by exploring the various names Koreans use to refer to themselves.

Origin of the Name “Korea”

Before delving into the different names Koreans use to refer to themselves, it is essential to understand the origin of the name “Korea.” According to historical records, the name “Korea” originated from the Goryeo dynasty (918-1392). During this period, the country was referred to as “Goryeo,” which was later modified by Westerners into “Korea.” Therefore, “Korea” is not a name that Koreans use to refer to themselves; it is a name given to them by Westerners.

“Han” – The Cultural Name of Koreans

While “Korea” may not be a name used by Koreans to refer to themselves, there are several other names they use. One such name is “Han,” which is used as a cultural name for Koreans. The term “Han” refers to the collective identity and culture of Koreans and is often used in traditional Korean literature and music.

“Hanguk Saram” – The National Name of South Koreans

In South Korea, the national name used by citizens is “Hanguk Saram.” This term translates to “person from Hanguk,” which is the official Korean name for South Korea. It is worth noting that North Koreans also use this term but substitute “Hanguk” with “Choson,” which is their official state name.

“Joseon Saram” – The National Name of North Koreans

As mentioned earlier, North Koreans use a different name to refer to their country, and as such, they also use a different national name. The term “Joseon Saram” is used by North Koreans to refer to themselves, which translates to “person from Joseon.” This name is derived from the Joseon dynasty, which ruled Korea from 1392-1910.

“Uri Nara” – The Collective Name of Koreans

Another name used by Koreans to refer to themselves collectively is “Uri Nara,” which translates to “our country.” This term is used to emphasize the bond and sense of belonging among Koreans regardless of whether they are from the north or south.

“Dongseo-in” – The Regional Name for Koreans

Apart from cultural and national names, Koreans also use regional names to refer to themselves. One such name is “Dongseo-in,” which refers to Koreans from the southwest region of the country.

“Dongdongju” – The Name for Rural Koreans

Another regional name used by Koreans is “Dongdongju,” which refers to rural or countryside dwellers in Korea. This term originated from a traditional Korean alcoholic beverage made from rice.

“Sarangbang-sonnim” – The Name for Scholars and Artists

In traditional Korean society, scholars and artists were held in high esteem, and as such, they had a unique name that was used to refer to them. The term “Sarangbang-sonnim” was used to describe these individuals, and it translates to “gentlemen of the Sarangbang room.”

“Gukmin” – The Civil Name for Koreans

The civil name used by Koreans is “Gukmin,” which translates to “citizen of the country.” This term is used in official documents and forms, and it emphasizes the patriotic duty of Koreans to their country.

“Namnam” – The Endearing Name for Koreans

Finally, Koreans have an endearing name used to refer to each other, which is “Namnam.” This term is often used between friends or family members and is a way of expressing affection towards one another.


In conclusion, Koreans have several names they use to refer to themselves, depending on the context or situation. While “Korea” may be the name given to them by Westerners, Koreans have their own cultural, national, regional, and endearing names that reflect their rich history and identity. As such, understanding these names is essential in appreciating the unique culture and identity of Koreans.

Does South Korea call itself Korea?

The governments of both North and South Korea believe that they are the rightful rulers of the entire Korean Peninsula. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the name used in the north, while the Republic of Korea is the name used in the south.

What do North Korean people call themselves?

The individuals of North Korea refer to themselves as either Joseon-in or Chosunin, which translates to “the people of Joseon.”

What do Koreans call each other?

In Korean culture, it is common to not only refer to individuals by their surnames such as “Mr/Ms. Kim,” “Mr/Ms. Lee,” or “Mr/Ms. Park,” but also by their given names such as “Sung-soo” and “Soo-mi.”

How do North Koreans call South Koreans?

South Koreans refer to North Korea as “North Han” while North Koreans refer to South Korea as “South Choson”.

What do Japanese call Korea?

Kankoku is the Japanese pronunciation of Hanguk, which is the commonly used short name for South Korea in the Korean language. Meanwhile, North Korea is typically referred to as Kita-Chosen in Japan.

What do Korean people call Korea?

Koreans commonly use the name 한국 (hanguk) to refer to their country, but the official name is 대한민국 (daehanminguk) which means ‘The Democratic nation of the Great Han.’ This name is often chanted during international events to express pride in Korea.

It is also worth noting that the names used by Koreans to refer to themselves have evolved over time. For instance, during the Joseon dynasty, the term “Joseon Saram” was not in use as it would have been redundant to refer to oneself as a person from Joseon since it was the only state at the time. Instead, people used regional and family names to identify themselves.

Furthermore, as society becomes more globalized, there has been a shift towards using English names or nicknames among younger Koreans. This is especially true for those who have spent time studying or working abroad, where using their Korean names can sometimes be challenging for non-Korean speakers.

Despite these changes, however, the traditional names used by Koreans to refer to themselves remain an essential part of their cultural identity. They serve as a reminder of their rich history and heritage and help instill a sense of belonging and pride among Koreans both at home and abroad.

In conclusion, while “Korea” may be the name given to Koreans by Westerners, it is just one of many names that Koreans use to refer to themselves. From national and regional names to cultural and endearing names, each term reflects a unique aspect of Korean identity and serves as a reminder of their rich history and culture.

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