Friday, January 18, 2013

"north Korea (nK)" versus "North Korea (NK)"

Why do some Korea-hounds write "north Korea," or "nK," with a lowercase "N"? I can only guess that something ideological is going on in such people's heads: they imagine Korea already to be unified, such that "north Korea" indicates "the northern part of the unified Korean peninsula," somewhat like the way "northern Virginia" refers not to a distinct political region (e.g., West Virginia) but to a vaguely defined part of the commonwealth.

But if that's the case, then it would be more proper to refer to the area north of the DMZ as "northern Korea," not "north Korea." And once we do that, we see how ridiculous this move looks: the DMZ is nothing if not a very political boundary. "Northern Korea" is an incorrect designation: the country is, according to convention, properly called "North Korea": a politically distinct entity. North Koreans are the ones pushing the notion that Korea is still essentially one nation; people who write "nK" are upholding the North's ideology.


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