[KS] By train from Seoul to Incheon--what's in a name?
Min Suh Son
mson at ucla.edu
Wed Jan 25 01:48:53 EST 2006
Just to add a note to the comments below. I'm actually doing dissertation
research on the introduction of the streetcar system to Seoul during this
period and come across mention of the railroad quite frequently in my
Just a cursory look through my notes shows that so far the earliest
reference to the railroad (at least that I've come across so far) is in the
Cheguk sinmun (1898/12/29). It refers to the railroad in the Korean
vernacular phrase "Ky^ongbu kan ch'^olto r^ul Ilbon e h^orak hago..." which
I translate as the Seoul-Pusan line that was conceded to Japan.
This is also true for the Hwangsong sinmun (started in 1898). The earliest
reference I have found dates to 1899/1/13 where the railroad is referred to
in Chinese characters as "Ky^ong-In ch'^olto" using the character for
I have not come across any mention of "Hans^ong" to refer to the railroad
and have assumed that Koreans also commonly used the character "ky^ong" for
Seoul. What I don't know for sure is if this practice was influenced by the
Japanese nomenclature after the railroad concessions were given very early
on to Japan (Seoul-Pusan in 1896 and Seoul-Inchon in 1898 transferred from
Hope this helps.
Min Suh Son
From: Koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws
[mailto:Koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws] On Behalf Of Paul Shepherd
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 7:50 PM
To: Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
Subject: Re: [KS] By train from Seoul to Incheon--what's in a name?
The word Gyeongin comes from the planned connection of Gyeongseong station
(1900) and Incheon.
The original line work planned by J. R. Morse failed in 1897 due to lack of
capital, but a Japanese run company called (in Korean) Gyeongin Cheoldo
Hoesa (Kyo^ngin Ch'o^lto) undertook to complete the project in 1899.
Interestingly, Kyeongsong station was so named in July, 1900, a name which
it had until 1905 (changed temporarily to Namdaemun Station). It would
indeed be interesting to look at the primary documents in relation to the
establishment of Gyeongsong station, and why that name was given.
Also, the station was renamed Namdaemun Station in 1905.
There is a bit of history about the Gyeonginseon line on www.naver.com in
I included the relevant part in Korean below.
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<http://100.naver.com/100.php?id=720208> ÀÌÈ¿©°í ÀÚ¸®) »çÀÌ°¡ °³ÅëµÇ¾î
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This Naver article refers to a "Seoul Station" existing in 1900, but that is
a factually incorrect part of the article.
It is hard not to draw the inference that the name Gyeongin does not have
something to do with the Japanese managed construction project, and also the
plans for the original name of Seoul Station. I look forward to further
light being shed by other scholars on the details of that Japanese company
(Gyeongin Choldo) and also the naming of Gyeongseong Station in 1900.
Graduate School of The College of Law, Seoul National University
Mobile: (ROK) 010-7217-7675
From: "Stefan Ewing" <sa_ewing at hotmail.com>
Reply-To: Korean Studies Discussion List <Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
To: Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
Subject: [KS] By train from Seoul to Incheon--what's in a name?
Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 16:46:56 -0800
>Dear KS list members:
>All right, it's my turn to ask a vexing question. The question and
>its motivation are arcane and necessarily long, so my apologies in
>advance, and please feel free to skip this posting entirely.
>(For consistency's sake, I'm using McCune-Reischauer for almost all
>place names in this article, both historical and modern. Some names
>go by different renditions today.)
>Korea's first railway line was built during the era of foreign
>concessions, at the close of the 19th century. In 1899, a line was
>opened connecting Noryangjin (across the river from the city gates
>of Hanso^ng--modern-day Seoul) with Chemulp'o in Inch'o^n, the
>forerunner of today's Kyo^ngin Line. (The Noryangjin-Kuro stretch
>is now part of the Kyo^ngbu Line to Pusan, a 6-track artery served
>by everything from the high-speed KTX to lowly,
>packed-to-the-handrails local Line 1 subway trains.)
>Historical articles on the early development of Korean railways
>invariably refer to the original 1896 line as the Kyo^nginso^n (so^n
>= Line; http://www.korail.go.kr/2003/100th/year/index1.html) or
>Kyo^ngin Ch'o^lto (Railway;
>http://webzine.korail.go.kr/20050402/00250.html). If the line was
>in fact so named in 1896--which is not at all clear--this would
>indicate that the characters in the line's name were chosen because
>the line connects the capital (so^ul kyo^ng) with Inch'o^n (o^jil
>in). The Kyo^ngbu (to Pusan, opened 1905) and Kyo^ngu^i Lines (to
>Sinu^iju, 1906) appear to have been named on a similar pattern.
>The sticking point is that, up until 1910, Seoul's name was
>Hanso^ng, and thereafter changed by or under the Japanese
>authorities to Kyo^ngso^ng. Long-time Korean practice before and
>since has been to name many provinces, transportation routes, or
>events by joining together one character from each of the two place
>names involved: thus, Ch'ungch'o^ng-do (Ch'ungju-Ch'o^ngju); the
>Kyo^ngjo^n (Kyo^ngsang-Cho^lla) railway line; the Kuma (Taegu-Masan)
>Expressway; and relevant to the recent discussion, the Puma
>(Pusan-Masan) Uprising(s) (?--cannot find their mention now). Why,
>then, was the original railway called not, say, the Hanin
>(Hanso^ng-Inch'o^n) Ch'o^lto, but the somewhat contrived Kyo^ngin
>That Seoul was not officially named as such until one year after
>liberation in 1946 does not preclude the possibility that the word
>"so^ul" ("capital") was used colloquially to refer to the city prior
>to that time. When streetcars first came to the capital in 1898,
>the operating company--Hanso^ng Cho^ngi Hoesa--was referred to in
>English as the "Seoul Electric Co."
>, 7th photo from top; note Han'gu^l rendition of company's name as
>"Hansyo^ng Tyo^ngu^i Hoesa"). Could the character "kyo^ng" have had
>some currency as a written noun, equivalent to the colloquial name
>It is also possible that the original railway had a different name
>and that the modern name--Kyo^ngin--has only been applied to the
>line retrospectively by later writers. Under this scenario, the
>Kyo^ngin Line and its pre-1910 younger sisters--the Kyo^ngbu and
>Kyo^ngu^i Lines to Pusan and Sinu^iju respectively--would have been
>so renamed some time after the Japanese annexation. In that case,
>the first character in each line's new name would presumably have
>come from the "kyo^ng" in "Kyo^ngso^ng" (the Japanese "Keijo"),
>Seoul's new name--the same character, but with a different story
>To summarize, my question, then, is this: Was the name "Kyo^ngin"
>chosen (over, say, "Hanin"), because the character kyo^ng denotes
>"capital," the Korean equivalent--Seoul/So^ul--being the colloquial
>name for Hanso^ng? Are there attestations in other
>(non-rail-related) sources to the use of "kyo^ng" (or "Seoul") to
>refer to the capital during the Choso^n Dynasty? Or is this a
>commentary on non-scholarly historiography, with modern writers
>retrospectively applying an anachronistic name to the railway, the
>original name lost in the mists of time? Or between the railway's
>concession holder--James R. Morse--and the Koreans with whom he
>worked, was this highly idiosyncractic name the simple result?
>I hope someone, somewhere on this list can provide some sort of
>satisfactory answer. It would appear that whatever the answer,
>there's an interesting story waiting to emerge!
>Thanks in advance,
>Designer Mail isn't just fun to send, it's fun to receive. Use
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