16 – Power To The People 民

(Originally published May 2014)

Many other Korean words related to ‘the people’ or ‘the public’ have the sound 민 (‘min’) in them. This sound comes from the Chinese character 民 which means ‘The people.’

For example, one word for ‘farmer’ or ‘peasant’ is 농민 (農民– ‘Nong-min’). The first syllable 농 (‘Nong’) comes from the character 農 which means ‘farm’.  When combined with 민 (‘min’ – people) it literally means ‘Farm People’.

Though we generally refer to Korea as 한국 (韓國 – ‘Han-gook’), the official name is 대한민국 (大韓民國 – ‘Dae-han-min-gook’), or ‘Republic of Korea’.  대한민국 literally means ‘Great Nation of Han People’, and the 민 (‘min’) in this name comes from the character for ‘people’.

The word 민속 (民俗 – ‘Min-sok’) means ‘folk’, as in ‘folk music’ or ‘folk crafts’, etc. If you add 촌 (村 – ‘Chon’ – village) at the end you get 민속촌 (民俗村 – ‘min-sok-chon’) which means ‘Folk Village.’  It also happens to be the name of a popular restaurant here in San Diego!

Here are some other military related words with 군 (‘Goon’) in them:

국민적 (國民的 – ‘Gook-min-jeok’): National
민간 (民間 – ‘min-gan’): Civilian, private, non-government
민족 (民族 – ‘min-jok’): people, ethnic group race
민주 (民主 – ‘min-ju’): Democratic
민주주의 (民主主義 – ‘min-ju-ju-eui’): Democracy
서민 (庶民 – ‘seo-min’): Ordinary people, commoner
시민 (市民 – ‘Shi-min’): Citizen
이민 (移民 – ‘Ee-min’): Immigration
주민 (住民 – ‘Ju-min’): Resident, inhabitant

Have a word or character that you would like to know more about?  Send your questions and comments to newhanja@gmail.com.


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