How to Name the “Korean War”

In this blog, I tend to refer to the Korean War as “June 25th War (a.k.a. the Korean War)”.

I do have to put the “a.k.a. the Korean War”, because that is by far the most common name for this war in English, and if I didn’t use the term ‘the Korean War’ I would confuse most readers.

But step back, and try to think about it from a Korean perspective. There have been many wars on the Korean peninsula, and all of them can be accurately labelled a ‘Korean’ war. Why should one war be singled out and referred to as the ‘Korean’ war, and not the other ‘Korean’ wars?

It’s obvious that a name like ‘Korean War’ would not be coined by Koreans. We call it the ‘Korean War’ because it is the first (and so far, only) major war on the Korean peninsula which involved countries outside of East Asia. From the U.S. perspective, and the U.K. perspective, and the New Zealand perspective, and the Turkish perspective, and the Ethiopian perspective, and the Colombian perspective, it is the ‘Korean War’ because that was the only military war those countries (among others) ever fought in ‘Korea’.

I noticed that, in South Korea, where the English labels would say ‘Korean War’, the Korean labels would say ‘6·25 전쟁’ (6-25 Jeonjaeng) which means ‘June 25th War’. Those of you who know some Chinese might have noticed that the Korean word for war, jeonjaeng, comes from the Chinese word 戰爭 (pronounced as zhàn​zhēng​ in Mandarin).

The Korean War did turn hot on June 25th, when North Korea started to invade South Korea. The name ‘June 25th War’ is a reminder that North Korea started the hostilities, and that South Korea was unprepared for war and had no intention of using the military against North Korea anytime soon. ‘June 25th War’ presents South Korea as a righteous victim which responded to an unprovoked invasion.

I knew, I just knew that North Korea would not use the name ‘June 25th War’ precisely because that name does emphasize that North Korea did invade South Korea without provocation, and that using that date to name the war makes North Korea look like a bully. I also know that North Koreans would not use the name ‘Korean War’ for the same reason South Koreans tend not to use that name – North Koreans are also aware of the many ‘Korean’ wars of history.

And I’m right – North Korea calls the war Joguk Haebang Jeonjaeng – ‘Fatherland Liberation War’. Yeah, of course they call themselves ‘liberators’. They invaded South Korea to ‘liberate’ it.

Since this is a blog about travelling in South Korea, I feel that it is most appropriate to use the South Korean name – ‘June 25th War’ – but I also use the term ‘Korean War’ for clarity’s sake.


About Sara K.

Sara K. is an aromantic asexual from California who has previously lived in Taiwan. She blogs at the notes which do not fit, has previously been a contributor at Manga Bookshelf, and has written guest posts for Hacking Chinese. She enjoys reading, travel, live theatre, learning languages, and gardening.
This entry was posted in Modern History, North Korea, Overview and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to How to Name the “Korean War”

  1. The Correct title would be: “Progressive Globalist Perpetual War Machine for Profit in Korea”

    단군 – 하나의 한국! [1] (Tangun – One Korea)

    Lend Me Your Ear, Creation; 단군!
    Tale of Three Kingdoms; Samguk Yusa
    Silla, Paekche, Koguryo
    History speaks Truth.
    하나의 한국!

    Nine-Hundred Invasions,
    Wars, endured, barbarians at the door.
    Admiral Yi and Turtle Ships
    symbols adored.
    하나의 한국!

    Oh Moderns, do you not know?
    Russian histories Truth do tell
    What you call Manchuria
    Koreans settled, Korea Old
    하나의 한국!

    King Sejong, learning, thought, culture;
    Queen Min murdered, from Japan they came
    colonialism’s atrocities, history’s assassins, Shinzo Abe tries to hide
    Truth by quill of 264 never to be killed
    하나의 한국!

    FDR, Stalin, Truman and Mao
    Moral Authority Korea for spoils?
    Progressive Globalist policy to divide
    philosophy ne’er let Koreans decide.
    하나의 한국!

    Powers come and go
    Korea bold and strong she grows
    The Secret of The Land
    Her People have never told
    하나의 한국!

    Her great beauty, riches
    does not lay in gold
    invaders can never hold
    watch them go home old and cold
    하나의 한국!

    Moderns of The West Infect
    against this evil stand, protect
    Society they will dissect
    hear The Spirit plea
    하나의 한국!

    모더니즘의 엄청난 거짓말 : 남북한.

    역사의 위대한 진리 : 하나의 한국!



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