Korea in Korean: DPRK Meaning
- Did you Know North Korea
isn't the Official Name...?

Korea in Korean: DPRK Meaning & What DPRK Stands For

DPRK, Korea, or North Korea? 
How to say Korea in Korean

Thought you knew how to say Korea in Korean? 

Think again! 

If you've ever read any further into North Korea than what the media pours out, then you'll have probably come across the letters DPRK. 

So what does DPRK mean? What do these letters stand for? What is the DPRK...?

Well, the DPRK is... North Korea!

These letters actually stand for North Korea's official name; Democratic People's Republic of Korea. 

What is Korea in Korean?

Korea in Korean is the following;

Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk

You can shorten 'Democratic People's Republic of Korea' (bit of a mouthful) to simply DPRK, which would translate into Korean as;


But how about South Korea in Korean..?

Having said what Korea in Korean is previously, it's evident that we are talking about the DPRK - or North Korea. 

However what if you wish to say Korea in Korean in South Korea, it's a different story.

In South Korea, Korea in Korean is;

한국, Hanguk

North Korea in Korean in South Korea is;

북한, Bukhan

In North Korea, neither of these terms for Korea in Korean are used. 

You should refrain from using these terms in North Korea to say Korea in Korean.

The official name for South Korea in Korean is;


This stands for Republic of Korea - which isn't as much of a mouthful as Korea in Korean when you're talking about North Korea, but is still reason enough to shorten it to just 'South Korea', or even just 'Korea.'

Have I been saying Korea in Korean wrong this whole time? 

No - don't worry! 

In Western media and indeed every other country outside of North Korea (*ahem*, DPRK, sorry!) uses 'North Korea' to refer to the DPRK. 

Even when translated into different languages, most countries will refer to North Korea as 'North + Korea' in some form. 



北朝鮮, Kitachousen, lit. "North Korea"


北朝鲜, Beichaoxian, lit. "North Korea"

North Korea or DPRK - Which One Should I Use? 

In North Korea, North Koreans see the country as one united nation.

Therefore they do not differentiate between North Korea and South Korea - being still one entire Korea. 

When you are in North Korea, you should get into the habit of saying 'DPRK' or just simply 'Korea'. 

If you want to talk about Seoul or Busan in "South Korea" then you could use the terminology "in the South of Korea", or alternatively, "in the North of Korea". 

In reality, Koreans who have spent time around western people will themselves also say North Korea sometimes.

You won't get into trouble if you refer to the DPRK as North Korea - they understand that this is the common terminology in the west.

However, you will make a good impression if you use the correct terminology and call it DPRK or Korea, and you escape the risk of offending somebody. 

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Zoe Stephens

Zoe is the marketing manager and a tour leader at Koryo Tours.

Her love of meeting new people and exploring new cultures has led her to study several languages including German, Japanese, and Chinese. Having lived in several different countries across 4 continents, she often writes about languages and culture in her blogs and is very active on social media. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she was 'stuck' in Tonga for 1.5 years after a weekend away. Ask her for some stories! 

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