I’ve been reading up on the Imjin War–the massive 16th century invasion of Korea conducted by Japan–as part of the research for a story I’m working on. (More about that soon…)
It’s pretty interesting, to the point where I’m on the verge of getting myself a copy of Samuel Hawley’s book on the subject, since it’s available for Kindle and seems to be the most interesting of several out there. So far, though, I’ve just been making do with what’s available online (which is quite a bit).
Among the oddest of the surprises I’ve run across is that, supposedly, Itaewon — the name of what has long been the main “foreigner district” in Seoul — is the somewhat unclear provenance of the district’s name, what with two homophonic sets of hanja (Chinese) characters considered possible candidates for its origin.
Big (huge!) caveats:
- I can’t read hanja (Sino-Korean characters, ie. Chinese characters as used by Koreans). Seriously. I’m getting help from Google Translate and Naver Dictionary. This is a possible-error warning, but also an invitation: correct me, please!
- Also: er, the full story involves some gruesome (sexual) violence from long ago history. If that sort of thing bothers you, er, skip it.
With that out of the way, here are the two names, and the stories that go with them: Continue reading