22 – Breaking Records 記

(Originally published January 2015)

Many Korean words related to the meaning of ‘to record something’ or ‘document’ have the sound 기 (“Gi”) in them. This is the Korean pronunciation of the Chinese character 記 which means ‘record’ or ‘document’.


The Korean word 기사 (記事 ‘Gi-sa’) means ‘article’, like a news article – or the article that you reading right now. It is a combination of 기 (記 ”Gi”-‘Record’) and the character 事 (사 – “Sa”) which means ‘event’ or ‘thing that happened’. So ’article’, or 기사 (記事 ‘Gi-sa’) literally means ‘a record of something that happened’.

The Korean word for ‘news reporter’ (기자 ‘Gi-ja’) is very similar to the word for article (기사 ‘Gi-sa’), and this is because they share the same Hanja character. The first sound 기 (”Gi”) of course means ‘record’, but this time the second character is 者 (자 “Ja”) means “person”. So (기자 ‘Gi-ja’) literally means a person who records or documents what happens. That’s a pretty good description of a reporter!

The Korean word for ‘memory’ is 기억 (記憶 – “Gi-Eok”). The first syllable기 (”Gi”) means record, and the second syllable 억 (憶 “Eok”) means “think”. A memory is like a recorded thought. To make it a verb, you simply add 하다 (“Ha-da”) to get 기억하다 (“Gi-Eok Ha-da”) which means ‘to remember’.

The Korean word for ‘diary’ or ‘journal’ is 일기 (日記 “Il-Gi”). This time the first character 日 (일 “Il”) means ‘day’. The second syllable기 (”Gi”) means ‘record’, so 일기 (“Il-Gi”) literally means a record of what you did that day.

Here are some other very common and very useful words with 기 (記 ”Gi”) in them:

기념일 (記念日 – “Gi-Nyum-Il”): Anniversary

기념품 (記念品 – “Gi-Nyum-Pum”): Souvenir

기록하다 (記錄 – “Gi-Rok Ha-da”): To record, to write down

기술하다 (記述 – “Gi-Sul Ha-da”): To describe something

기호 (記號 – “Gi-Ho”): A sign, symbol, or mark

전기 (傳記 – “Jeon-Gi”): Biography

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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