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Why is Korea not called Joseon?


Korea has a long and complex history, with many different dynasties and kingdoms coming and going over the centuries. One of the most famous of these is Joseon, which was the last dynasty to rule over Korea before the country was annexed by Japan in 1910. Despite this, today Korea is known as Korea, not Joseon. In this article, we will explore the reasons why this is the case.

The Joseon Dynasty

The Joseon Dynasty was founded in 1392 by Yi Seong-gye, who overthrew the previous Goryeo Dynasty. Under Joseon rule, Korea experienced a long period of relative stability and prosperity, with advancements in fields like science, art, and literature. Despite this, the dynasty was marked by periods of conflict with neighboring countries like China and Japan.

The Name “Korea”

The name “Korea” actually has its roots in the Goryeo Dynasty. At that time, the country was known as “Goryeo” in Korean. However, when Western traders began to arrive in Korea in the 16th century, they started using their own transliterations of the name. This eventually led to “Goryeo” becoming “Korea.”

The Annexation by Japan

In 1910, Korea was annexed by Japan after years of political and economic pressure. During this period of Japanese rule, much of Korea’s cultural heritage was destroyed or lost. Many Koreans began to feel a sense of resentment towards Japan and their occupation.

The Korean War

After World War II ended in 1945, Korea was divided into two separate countries: North Korea and South Korea. This division was a result of tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States, which had been occupying different parts of Korea during the war. In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, leading to a brutal conflict that lasted for three years.

The Creation of the Republic of Korea

After the Korean War ended in 1953, South Korea became known as the Republic of Korea. This was a new name for the country, which had previously been known as “Korea.” The decision to change the name was made in part to distance the country from its past as a Japanese colony.

The Importance of National Identity

National identity is an important concept in Korean culture. Many Koreans feel a deep connection to their country and its history, and take pride in their cultural heritage. Choosing a name for the country that reflects this sense of identity is therefore important.

The Legacy of Joseon

Despite no longer being called Joseon, the legacy of the dynasty lives on in many ways. For example, many traditional Korean cultural practices and art forms date back to this period in history. Additionally, many Koreans still feel a sense of connection to their Joseon-era ancestors.

The Politics of Naming

The decision to call a country by a certain name is often influenced by politics. In the case of Korea, the choice to become the Republic of Korea was likely influenced by both a desire to distance themselves from Japan and a desire to establish a new national identity.

The Importance of Historical Context

Understanding the historical context behind why Korea is not called Joseon is important for understanding modern Korean culture and society. By learning about the events that have shaped the country’s past, we can gain insight into its present.

The Power of Naming

The name we choose for something can have a powerful impact on how we think and feel about it. In the case of Korea, the decision to call the country the Republic of Korea instead of Joseon was an important one that reflects the country’s desire to establish a new national identity.


In conclusion, Korea is not called Joseon today for a variety of reasons. These include historical events like the annexation by Japan and the Korean War, as well as political considerations and a desire to establish a new national identity. Despite this, the legacy of the Joseon Dynasty lives on in many ways, and continues to shape modern Korean culture and society.

When did Korea stop being called Joseon?

The period of the Joseon dynasty in Korea lasted from 1392 to 1910.

Do Koreans call Korea Joseon?

Joseon is a name that is currently used by Koreans and North Koreans living in China and Japan to refer to the peninsula. It is also the official Korean name for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (Joseon).

Is Joseon the same as Korea?

From 1897 to 1910, the Joseon Kingdom in Korea was renamed the “Korean Empire” but was actually under Japanese control. The Korean Emperor Gojong was eventually compelled to relinquish his throne.

Why is Korea called Korea and not Joseon?

The term Joseon/Choseon refers to a time period from 2333 BCE to 108 BCE, while the term Guryeo/Korea refers to a period from 37 BCE to 668 CE. Therefore, the name Choseon existed before the use of the term “Han” during the “Samhan/Three Kingdoms” period, and “Korea” came after.

Does the Joseon family still exist?

The Korean royal family is only a lineage and historical concept, with the end of the Joseon dynasty marked by the Japan-Korean Treaty of 1910.

What is Joseon called now?

The Korean Empire, also known as Joseon, existed from 1392 to 1910 and had a population of roughly 17 million people. Its currency varied over time, using Mun from 1423 to 1897 and Yang from 1892 to 1897. The Korean Empire replaced the earlier Goryeo and Tamna kingdoms, and was eventually succeeded by modern-day North and South Korea. The territory once controlled by the Korean Empire now includes several other countries, including Russia, China, and Japan.

The Role of Language

Another factor that may have played a role in the decision to change the name of Korea is language. The Korean language has evolved over time, with different periods in history associated with different linguistic innovations. By changing the name of the country, Koreans were able to assert their linguistic identity and distance themselves from the linguistic influence of Japan.

The Influence of Globalization

In recent years, Korea has become an increasingly globalized society. This has led to a greater awareness of the country’s place in the world, and a desire to be recognized as a modern, independent nation. Choosing a name like “Republic of Korea” reflects this desire for recognition and independence.

The Importance of Cultural Heritage

Korean cultural heritage is rich and diverse, with many different traditions and practices that have been passed down through the centuries. By choosing a name like “Republic of Korea,” Koreans were able to assert their cultural identity and reflect their pride in their heritage.

The Future of Korean Identity

As Korea continues to evolve, it is likely that its national identity will continue to change as well. The name “Republic of Korea” may continue to be used for many years to come, or it may eventually be replaced by something new. Whatever the future holds, it is clear that Korea’s past will continue to play an important role in shaping its identity for years to come.

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