Thursday, November 11, 2010

Obama gets a Korean name

Apparently the best way to counter the ravages of globalization is by Koreanizing everything, including visiting heads of state. Henceforth, Obama shall be Oh Hanma.

From Yonhap:
A pro-U.S. organization named the Korea-U.S. Alliance Friendship Society said Wednesday it would confer the Korean name "Oh Han-ma" on the U.S. president on the occasion of his visit to South Korea.

"It is our sincere hope that the conferment of the Korean name to U.S. President Barack Obama will further solidify the alliance with South Korea, forged by blood during the Korean War," said Suh Jin-sup, head of the Seoul-based society, in a statement.

The family name "Oh," meaning a country in Chinese character, is derived from the Korean pronunciation of the letter "O" in the name "Obama," Suh said. The name "Han-ma" is a combination of two Chinese characters with "Han" meaning Korea and "Ma" standing for horse, which Sun says is a symbol of the U.S.

In South Korea, the family name comes first.

Put together, the Korean name for Obama reflects hope that leaders of South Korea and the U.S. will make major efforts "by running at full speed like a horse" to try and rescue the world economy from the worst crisis in decades, according to Suh's explanation.
While I appreciate the way KorAm Friendship Society is trying help the president with their rendering of Obama, they should realize it's the Hussein name that's been giving BHO all that trouble.

Anyway, Oh Hanma doesn't sound so bad. I'm just glad they didn't go for something more homophonous and call him Oh Banma, which would make him half-horse.


  1. Saw this story in this morning's The Daily Focus (one of those free papers they give away on the subways). In hanja, it is rendered 吳韓馬. Banma would be bad, but at least they didn't render 오 as 誤!

  2. Ah, the "o" as in ohae, a mistake or misunderstanding. That would be quite the subtle little editorial comment, wouldn't it?

    I like the way hanma looks in hantcha. Maybe I'll name my future kid that.

  3. Isn't it funny that I immediately imagined the hanja bestowed on a foreign leader to be Five Marijuana plants (using the traditional Korean reading for Tae)?


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