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Given the close proximity and long history of interaction of various kinds within East Asia, the great influence of Chinese in both Japanese and Korean, and the similar structures of Japanese and Korean, are there any old words known to have come into Japanese from Korean, and if so, are there any which are written in kanji?

We know that modern Korean loanwords are written in katakana such as "キムチ" (kimuchi) from "김치" (kimchi) and "ビビンバ" (bibinba) from "비빔밥" (bibimbap), but surely there must be some words taken much longer ago - what are some of them and how are they written?

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4 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

There are also several old and common words which may have come from Korean, but of course, unlike words that are easily recognized as Korean in origin (such as 両班 Yangban or 温突 ondol), these words would probably forever remain in controversy:

寺 (てら) may have come from the Korean 절 (jeol). The Koujien dictionary also states the Pali word thera (old, ancient) as a possible source, but if this is indeed the case, then it probably got there through the Korean 절 anyway.

熊 (くま) and 곰 (gom) are very similar, and I wouldn't be surprised if they came from the same origin, as words for animals often travel between languages.

鶴 (つる), crane, is another animal word which probably comes from the same origin as the Korean 두루미 (turumi), though it doesn't necessarily means the Korean word is the origin for the Japanese one: it may be the other way around, or it may be that in both of them it comes from a third language which is now lost.

幸 (さち) which now means happiness but originally referred to some kind of hunting weapon, may have the same origin as the Korean. 살 (sal, arrow).

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I won't vouch for its accuracy, but here's a list of words that EDICT claims to be of Korean origin:

て拳道 [てこんどー] /(n) (uk) Tae Kwon Do (kor:)/
アイゴー /(int) argh (kor: aigo)/sigh/
アボジ /(n) father (kor:)/
ウォン /(n) won (unit of Korean currency) (kor:)/(P)/
ウオン /(n) won (unit of Korean currency) (kor:)/(P)/
オイキムチ /(n) cucumber kimchi (kor: oi kimch'i)/
オモニ /(n) mother (kor:)/
オンドル /(n) (uk) Korean floor heater (kor:)/
カクテキ /(n) cubed daikon kimchi (kor: kkakdugi)/
カムルチー /(n) northern snakehead (species of fish, Channa argus) (kor: kamultchi)/
カムルチイ /(n) northern snakehead (species of fish, Channa argus) (kor: kamultchi)/
カルビ /(n) beef ribs (kor: galbi)/
キーセン /(n) Korean female entertainer (kor: gi-saeng)/
コチジャン /(n) gochujang (Korean red chili paste) (kor:)/
コチュジャン /(n) gochujang (Korean red chili paste) (kor:)/
サンチュ /(n) Korean lettuce (kor: sangchu)/
チゲ /(n) Korean stew (kor:)/
チジミ /(n) buchimgae (Korean pancake) (kor: jijimi)/
チヂミ /(ik) (n) buchimgae (Korean pancake) (kor: jijimi)/
チョソンクル /(n) hangul script (North Korean name) (kor: choson'gul)/
チョソングル /(n) hangul script (North Korean name) (kor: choson'gul)/
テコンドー /(n) (uk) Tae Kwon Do (kor:)/
テポドン /(n) Taepodong (kor:)/Taep'o-dong/North Korean ballistic missile/
トック /(n) tteok (sweet Korean rice cake) (kor:)/
トッポキ /(n) tteokbokki (spicy stir-fried Korean rice cake) (kor:)/
トッポッキ /(n) tteokbokki (spicy stir-fried Korean rice cake) (kor:)/
ハングル /(n) hangul (Korean script) (kor:)/(P)/
パチキ /(n,vs) headbutt (kor: bakchigi)/
パッチギ /(n,vs) headbutt (kor: bakchigi)/
プルコギ /(n) bulgogi (Korean dish of grilled beef) (kor:)/
マッカリ /(n) alcoholic beverage made from flour or sticky rice (kor: maggeoli)/
マンセー /(n) banzai (celebratory or congratulatory cheer) (kor: manse)/
マンファ /(n) South Korean comics (often of a style similar to manga) (kor: manhwa)/
温突 [おんどる] /(n) (uk) Korean floor heater (kor:)/
火病 [ひびょう] /(n) Korean anger syndrome (kor: Hwabyeong)/hwabyung/
妓生 [きいさん] /(n) Korean female entertainer (kor: gi-saeng)/
妓生 [こしょう] /(n) Korean female entertainer (kor: gi-saeng)/
参鶏湯 [サムゲタン] /(n) samgyetang (kor:)/chicken ginseng soup (Korean dish)/
総角 [チョンガー] /(n) (uk) bachelor (kor: ch'onggak)/
沈菜 [キムチ] /(n) (uk) kimchi (kor: kimch'i)/kimchee/spicy Korean pickled cabbage/
明太 [めんたい] /(n) walleye pollack (Theragra chalcogramma) (kor: myeongtae)/Alaska pollack/
両班 [ヤンバン] /(n) (uk) aristocrat (kor:)/
両班 [リャンバン] /(n) (uk) aristocrat (kor:)/
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What does (uk) signify? –  hippietrail Jun 1 '11 at 16:06
@hippietrail: "Usually written in kana". –  Matti Virkkunen Jun 1 '11 at 16:08
It's an impressive list and completely answers the kanji part of my question. Not directly about the words being old but so far I can infer that words in kanji are probably old and words with kana are probably new. –  hippietrail Jun 1 '11 at 16:55
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tsuka (hill) is an old Korean loanword

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Is this the word written as kanji , kana つか? In modern Korean ? Can you provide a reference as to its Korean origin? I couldn't find one so far by googling... –  hippietrail Apr 12 '12 at 8:59
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It is thought that the ancient word 城 read as き is of Korean (although not necessarily closely related to modern Korean) origin.

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