Last week I saw references in a Korean magazine to the tv show 왕좌의 게임 (wang-jwa-e ge-im, throne-of game) and the movie 스타 워즈: 깨어난 포스 (s-ta weo-jeu: ggae-eo-nan po-seu, star wars: wakening force). 왕좌의 and 깨어난 are Korean words and grammar, while 게임 (game), 스타 (star), 워즈 (wars) and 포스 (force) exist somewhere on the spectrum between being totally foreign words transliterated into hangeul at one end, and being ‘Koreanised’ or even ‘Korean’ at the other.
게임 is the most often used. A Google search returns ‘About 642,000,000 results’, often in compounds such as 컴퓨터 게임 (computer game), 비디오 게임 (video game), PC 게임 and RPG 게임 (the last suffering from RAS syndrome). It co-exists with the Korean 놀이, which is used for traditional games such as 윷 놀이 (yut nori, yunnori or yut) or for general play.
스타 returns ‘About 66,200,000 results’, in combinations such as 스타 크래프트 (StarCraft), 스타 킹 (Star King; the same spelling is also used for stockings) and 스타벅스 (Starbucks). The Sino-Korean word 항성 (hang-seong) seems to be used only for astronomy and the Korean 별 (byeol) only for astronomy and geometry.
워즈 returns ‘About 5,630,000 results’, almost all related to Star Wars. The Korean word 전쟁 (jeon-saeng) appears not to be used in the main title of Star Wars, but is used in the sub-title of 스타 워즈: 클론 전쟁 (Star Wars: The Clone Wars).
포스 returns ‘About 5,180,000 results’, mostly about POSCO (kr; en), the post office and point-of-sale equipment, but a few related to Star Wars. The Korean word 힘 is a multi-purpose word encompassing ‘strength, energy, power’.
Undoubtedly ‘game’ and ‘star’ are more ‘Koreanised’ than ‘wars’ or ‘force’, but can we call them ‘Korean’ yet? If not, then when?