(Originally published November 2016)
This month we are going to look at the character 海 which means sea or ocean. This character is pronounced 해 (“Hae”) in Korean and can be found in many Korean words related to the sea. Knowing the meaning of this character will help you learn these words.
For example, the Korean word 해군 (海軍 – “Hae-Gun”) means Navy. The first character 海 (해 – “Hae”) means sea. The second character 軍 (군 – “Gun”) means military or soldier. When combined the word literally means “Sea-Military”.
The word 해물 (海物 – “Hae-Mul”) means seafood. The first character 海 (해 – “Hae”) means sea and the second character 物 (물 – “Mul”) means thing or object. So seafood is literally a “Sea-object” or “Sea-thing” which I think is kind of funny.
The word 해외 (海外 – “Hae-Woi”) means foreign country, or more literally ‘overseas country’. The first character 海 (해 – “Hae”) means sea and the second character 外 (외 – “Woi”) means outside or external. If you add the word 여행 (旅行 – “Yeoh-Haeng”) which means vacation you get the combination word 해외여행 (海外旅行 – “Hae-Woi Yeoh-Haeng”) which means overseas trip or foreign travel.
If you look on most English language maps you will notice that the sea directly to the east of Korea is labeled as the Sea of Japan. However Koreans do not call it this for somewhat obvious reasons, and many find the name offensive. In Korea this sea is called 동해 (東海 – “Dong-Hae”) which literally means “East-Sea”. Easy to remember, and it will keep you out of trouble!
If you ever find yourself at Korea’s East Sea, maybe you can find a 해수욕장 (海水浴場 – “Hae-Su-Yok-Jang”) or beach for bathing and swimming. This word is made up of four characters. The first character 海 (해 – “Hae”) means sea. The second character 水 (수 – “Su”) means water. The third character 浴 (욕 – “Yok”) means to bathe, and the last character 場 (장 – “Jang”) means place. Put them together and you get “Sea-water-bathing-place”.
Similarly, the word 해변 (海邊 – “Hae-Byeon”) means beach or seashore. The first character 海 (해 – “Hae”) means sea, and the second character 邊 (변 – “Byeon”) means side or edge.
Have a word or character that you would like to know more about? Send your questions and comments to email@example.com. And also you can now find all of the previous Hanja Time articles online at hanjatime.wordpress.com.