31 – 强 – Only the strong survive

(Published October 2015)

This month we are going to take a look at a character强 which means ‘strength’. In Korean this character is pronounced강 (sounds like the English word “gong” but generally written phonetically as “gang”). Many Korean words relating to strength will have this sound in them.

gang01

By simply taking the sound for strength 강 (强 – “gang”) and adding the “to do” verb 하다 (“ha-da”) you get the verb 강하다 (“gang ha-da”) which means “to be strong”.

By taking강 (强 – “gang”) which means ‘strength’ and adding the character 化 (화 – “hwah”) which means ‘change’ or ‘become’ you get the combined word강화 (强化 – “gang-hwah”) which means ‘strengthening’ (literally ‘become strong’). If you add the “to do” verb 하다 (“ha-da”) to it you get the verb form강화하다 (“gang-hwah ha-da”) which means ‘to strengthen’.

The word강력 하다 (强力 “gang-ryeok ha-da”) means ‘powerful’. The first syllable 강 (“gang”) is this month’s character 强 which means ‘strong’. The second syllable력 (力 – ”ryeok”) means ‘power’. Combined they mean ‘Strength and Power’. The하다 (“ha-da”) at the end makes this word into a verb.

The Korean word강요하다 (强要 “Gang-yo Ha-da”): means ‘to force’, as in to force or pressure somebody to do something. The first syllable강 (“gang”) of course means ‘strength’, and the second syllable 요 (要 – “Yo”) means ‘necessary’. So something is necessary to do because somebody is using their strength to get you to do it- in other words you are being forced.

Here are some other common words with this character in them:

강도 (强度 – “Gang-do”): Intensity

강도 (强盜 – “Gang-do”): Burglar, Robber

강렬하다 (强烈 – “Gang-Ryeol Ha-da”): To be intense

강제 (强制 – “Gang-Jae”): Compulsion

강조 (强調 – “Gang-Jo”): Emphasis

I hope that knowing the meaning of강 (强 – “gang”) makes learning these vocabulary words easier. Have a word or character that you would like to know more about? Send your questions and comments to newhanja@gmail.com. And also you can now find all of the previous Hanja Time articles online at hanjatime.wordpress.com.

Finally, this October I’d like to wish everybody a happy Halloween. Maybe this year I will dress up as a Hanja character…

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