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Makgeolli vs. Matkoli

With the rising popularity of makgeolli in Japan (89% of makgeolli exports!), Song Won-sup at the JoongAng Daily speculates if we’ll ever have the problem of having to refer to Korea’s unfiltered rice wine drink by the Japanese pronunciation of “matgoli.”

Fortunately, the <sarcasm on>evil wae pirates<sarcasm off> suffered epic “Battle of Hansando“-like defeat when they were not able to hijack the true spelling of “kimchi” into “kimuchi” back in 2001.

As a parallel, Song talked about how the Russians had to fight off Polish attempts to claim that vodka originated in Poland. Clearly, a threat to Russian pride that had seen no precedent since the Poles took Moscow in 1610.

  • Granfalloon

    Mr. Song’s article is interesting, but does this makgeolli/matgoli issue exist anywhere outside his own head? Seems like he’s just stirring the pot (no pun intended).

  • judge judy

    “It is tradition that Koreans want to drink makgeolli when they eat bindaetteok [mung-bean pancakes] on rainy days,”

    ya don’t say.

  • http://www.diffism.com Alex

    “Matkoli” most certainly is not the Japanese pronunciation. That pronunciation can’t even be accomplished in Japanese. (If a Japanese person read the above word, it would sound like “Matsukori”)

    I just had some “Makkori” (Which is the Japanese spelling romanized) imported to Japan by Hite last week. Song Won-sup doesn’t have to worry quite yet – It’s not as popular in Japan as he thinks.

  • http://www.theync.com/media.php?name=10918-full-late-term KrZ

    “It is tradition that Koreans want to drink makgeolli when they eat bindaetteok [mung-bean pancakes] on rainy days,”

    Reminds me of a message my friend sent me on MSN a few weeks ago;
    9:21:31 PM Anna Kim: how are you?
    9:21:41 PM Anna Kim: it’s rainy today
    9:22:26 PM Anna Kim: very suitable weather for chicken asshole and soju

  • DLBarch

    Alex @3 is correct. It is indeed マッコリ.


  • yuna

    It must have been misinterpreted by the writer who probably doesn’t speak Japanese as mat-tsu-ko-ri as tsu would have been written out in full, instead of the double consonant emphasis written out with the small tsu.

  • http://www.diffism.com Alex

    Not to be confused with Mokkori.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    I was going to take the hanja and transcribe into Japanese pronunciation, but it appears to be that makgeolli is a rare native Korean word…

  • http://www.occidentalism.org shakuhachi

    Yep, definitely not matgori. Kind of reminds me that many Koreans think that “Chosenjin” is a racist term.

  • otoritakeo

    “shakuhachi”, the word itself is far from racist- it’s the way the word is USED. Much like the word “nigger.”

  • http://www.occidentalism.org shakuhachi


    Dude, do you speak or understand Japanese? Have you ever discussed it with a Japanese person? There is a word, a slur, for Koreans in Japanese, but “chosenjin” is not it.

  • dry

    #9: That’s not entirely true…a good number of Koreans living in Japan like it, or find it preferable than to kankokujin on a technical basis, thought the distinction is that they’ve been living in Japan only recently (last 20ish years). I think it was the older group that had issues with it.

  • dry


    Also, I don’t see how the term racist would apply, they are the same race… unless it’s that whole Japanese-are-white thing again

  • Arghaeri

    Interesting switch there Mizar, from overseas student to girl student, is this some freudian thing ;-)

  • Arghaeri

    eh how did that get there…

  • DLBarch

    Shak @ 11,

    I don’t know who you’re trying to snow, but “chosenjin” is most definitely a derogatory term for Koreans still used regularly in Japan, even by very nice and proper people who should know better.


  • yuna

    Thanks. That’s one less thing I have to come back to.

    As for your Ki and Chosenjin I have more to add but, for another day. I don’t like writing long posts.

    I thought I was going to have to start with the word meaning, the historical context and the division of opinions of the NK SK new SK groups in Japan, but coming from a Korean, I would have to have overcome the more of the usual hurdles including “Why do Koreans always…” but coming from DLBarch…. :)

  • kausa_sailor

    I for one am willing to give Vodka to the Poles. Similar to Korea, not too many things pop into my head when Poland is mentioned. They deserve a piece of fame; if there is even a shred of evidence, by all means give it to them (to the victor goes history)

    Korea is battling two giant revisionist nations. China is rewriting the history of Korea’s Three Kingdoms and Japan, Japan, Japan… I don’t see anything wrong with Korea wanting to prevent further encroachment, especially when the national dish and drink are concerned.

    A burning question I have is why Japan can not move away from Japanizing foreign words. They certainly are not incapable of pronouncing these foreign words. Then why not pronounce them correctly and stop embarrassing themselves. Makudonarudo, kimuchi, indeed…..

    PS. I guess it happens in many East Asian countries, although Korean Hangul is fairly good at getting the pronunciations correct.

  • WeikuBoy

    “I guess it happens in many East Asian countries, although Korean Hangul is fairly good at getting the pronunciations correct.”

    Is that relative to Japan? Because it sure is funny/sad to me that if I walk into Makdonalda and ask for fries I am never understood. Instead I must look at the Hanguel (which I don’t have in front of me at the moment) and say something that sounds like, “orange rye ” Hanguel not having a letter f (or q, v, w, x, z).

    Query: if Korea intends to continue using so many foreign words, why doesn’t it invent some new letters (or revive some old ones) to accomodate their sounds?

  • WeikuBoy


  • Arghaeri

    “I guess it happens in many East Asian countries”,

    It happens everywhere, how many of the words that you use but were borrowed from another language do you pronounce as in the original language.
    Why does english continue to anglicize words? e.g carry-oaky instead of KaraOKe

    I believe it has been considered, however the reason why not is probably much the same reason english doesn’t introduce/invent some of its old/new letters

  • kausa_sailor

    Hmmm, yes there are pronunciation issues in Korean with f certainly and v to an extent but q, w, x, and z not as much. Butchery with f words (and some v) are worthy of an incredulous laugh but pronunciation involving other letters would warrant but a small smirk and not even a condescending smile.

    Good point about butchery happening everywhere not just in Asia; I had a culture blinder on. Yes many of the borrowed words in English have devolved beyond recognition by the speakers of the originating languages. But in defense, many of those words were borrowed and popularized generations before the mass media arrived.

    It is lamentable that in these days of mobility/tourism and access to Internet/mass media, that people would not be able to learn how to correctly pronounce 맥다놀드스 as we call the Golden Arch over here in North America. But then again, why should average Asians be less insular than their American counterparts in -nizating of foreign words.

    While I would cringe at hearing McDonald from foreigners’ lips (birthed here daggone it), I would be more understanding of unpronunciability of the menu items. If “orange rye” is french fries, I would just go to the root of the problem and ask for fried sliced potatoes in Korean!

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936
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