■ the Korean language
□ Whether to call the Korean language 韓国語 or 朝鮮語 is a politically sensitive issue in Japan.
Traditionally, the Korean language has been called 朝鮮語, meaning the language of 朝鮮半島（ちょうせん はんとう）, the name by which the peninsula is usually referred to. In academic circles, 朝鮮語 is said to be the more generally accepted name for the language, and both 東京外国語大学 (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies) and 大阪外国語大学 (Osaka University of Foreign Studies), the two major national institutions of language teaching, use this term.
The foundation of separate states in the Korean peninsula, however, complicated the issue, because the term 朝鮮 has become associated specifically with 朝鮮民主主義人民共和国 （ちょうせん みんしゅ しゅぎ じんみん きょうわこく, Democratic People's Republic of Korea）, while its southern neighbour 大韓民国（だいかんみんこく, Republic of Korea） prefers to be referred to as 韓国（かんこく）. As the relationship between Japan and South Korea improved and tourism and educational exchange between the two countries grew in popularity, the use of the term 韓国語 became common.
The choice of one term over the other can been regarded as a political statement, and this has resulted in some major controversies.
One such example was NHK's television and radio Korean language courses which started in 1984. The programmes were developed in response to a petition organised by an organization called the 朝鮮語講座（こうざ）の開設（かいせつ）を要望（ようぼう）する会（かい）, and they were originally going to be called 朝鮮語講座（こうざ）, but following strong criticism by the South Korean media for political bias, NHK decided to find a neutral name. One suggestion was to call it 高麗語（こらいご） after the ancient Korean state of Koryo, but in the end NHK named the course 「アンニョンハシムニカ ハングル講座」. This choice was also followed when the test called ハングル能力検定試験（のうりょく けんてい しけん） was introduced in 1993. Hangul is the name of the Korean phonetic writing system and not the name of the language, but the use of ハングル or ハングル語 to refer to the language seems to have become well established now.
In newspapers and other media, the Korean language is often called 韓国・朝鮮語. The term コリア語, from the transliteration of the English "Korea," is also coming into use and has been adopted by some universities.
The Excite search hit counts (March 2001) for various Japanese terms for the Korean language are:
韓国語: 17,698 hitsA news search at the Saga Shimbun website also shows similar trends.
ハングル: 9919 hits
朝鮮語: 4685 hits
ハングル語: 1363 hits
韓国・朝鮮語: 645 hits
コリア語: 164 hits
朝鮮・韓国語: 101 hits
コリアン語: 3 hits
Article in Asahi Shimbun on the subject dated 9 January 2001.
NHK's Hangul course home page.
Note that 韓国語 is not mentioned anywhere in spite of the many references to 韓国 in the 番組紹介 page.
This entry was created by Yuno Hanlon.