Saturday, December 27, 2014

the proper pronunciation of "Kim Jeong-eun"

There are thousands of reasons to make fun of North Korea's leader, but poking fun in a way that reveals one's own ignorance doesn't make the jokes funny to those of us who actually know anything about Korean culture. Case in point: any sort of pun on Kim Jeong-eun's name that assumes the "eun" is pronounced "unn," like the "un" in "uncouth."

Let's go through the name slowly, for the ignorant hillbillies among us.

Kim: in Korean, the "K" in "Kim" isn't a hard English "K": it's somewhere between an English "K" and a hard English "G." The "i" in "Kim" is also not like the English short "i," so you'd be more accurate to pronounce "Kim" as "Geem" than as a harsh, Teutonic "Kim." (Just remember not to draw out the "ee" sound; it should be very brief.)

Jeong: this ought to be much easier for an English-speaker to pronounce, as it's almost exactly like saying the English words "hung" or "sung" or "lung." To be slightly more accurate in your pronunciation, steer the "uh" sound a little bit toward "aw." The romanized "eo" represents a sound that's somewhere between the English "uh" and "aw."

Eun: the "eu" here—and this is important for you cultural illiterates, so pay attention—isn't pronounced "ooh," as in "blue," nor is it pronounced "uh," as in "fun." It's pronounced more like the "oo" in "book." And this is why all those "Kim Jong Number Un" puns fall flat: his name simply isn't pronounced that way. Plus, those "Un" puns are simply Un-funny.

See what I did there?

It is the nature of idiots not to care after they've been corrected. In fact, I'd go further and say that it's the nature of idiots not even to be aware that they've just been schooled. I realize that this post won't be read by the people who need it most, and if any such people do read it, they'll just shrug and stick with their hillbilly ways. After all: other hillbillies are guffawing at these puns, so what's the harm in that, right?

Well, I don't think there's necessarily any harm, per se, in showing off your own ignorance, but just realize there are people out there, more educated than you (and probably contributing more meaningfully to the world), who do care, and who do think you're dumber than a box of fucking rocks.

Slight digression: I'm not a fan of the romanization "Kim Jong-un." It's misleading. If the purpose of romanization is to get a non-native speaker of a language to pronounce a word or name in a manner that's recognizable to native speakers, then "Kim Jong-un" fails this standard. You might counterargue that "Kim Jeong-eun" isn't much better, since a person unacquainted with the Korean government's official romanization scheme would see "Jeong-eun" and pronounce the name even more inaccurately than they would have with "Jong-un." My response is simple: acquaint yourself. It makes you less of an idiot.

ADDENDUM: here's a prime example of the uneducated puns I'm talking about.


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5 comments:

Michael Whitford said...

I don't care how you say it... That photo of him at the lube factory! Comedic gold! GOLD!

John from Daejeon said...

I'll just call him like I see him--a sorry "turd" who isn't above the continuation of starving his own people to death while he and his faithful apostle "turds" live lives of luxury. Of course, I'll use the Korean pronunciation of "turd," if I'm ever lucky enough to be able to spit in his obviously well-fed face.

Now, if only everyone outside of North Korea referred to little King Turd and his fellow turds in the north as such. I can just see those sorry turds shitting all over themselves in extreme anger over constantly being referred to as turds in the international press and everyone around the world. It makes one wonder just how long it would take before those turds lost their hardened grips on their porcelain throne before they are finally flushed down into the bowels of their own gulags.

Kevin Kim said...

Mike,

Yeah; that picture could definitely use a caption.

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"Let's go through the name slowly, for the ignorant hillbillies among us . . . . I realize that this post won't be read by the people who need it most, and if any such people do read it, they'll just shrug and stick with their hillbilly ways. After all: other hillbillies are guffawing at these puns, so what's the harm in that, right?"

Are you referring to me?

Jeffery Hodges

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Kevin Kim said...

My posts are always, always about you.