Friday, April 13, 2012

What do Koreans Think About Turkey?

Dear Korean,

I always wondered what Korean people think about Turkey and Turkish people. I was in high school during 2002 World Cup. I was shocked when i see the large Turkish flag on the stadium carried by Koreans. Maybe there were always a love for Korean people in Turkish community. But that was the time I realized that. Two cultures have many similarities, and during the Korean War Turkey sent soldiers to Korea and there is a cemetery for Turkish soldiers in Busan. And during World Cup we felt like we were at our homeland.

Do new generation know about Turkey and Turkish people. What they know and think about us?

Ishak M.


The Korean receives many questions of a similar type:  "What do Korean people think about [Country X]?" In most cases, the answer is simple -- unless Country X is a country with which Korea interacts frequently (e.g., United States, Japan, China,) Koreans are unlikely to have any strong feelings about the country one way or the other. Any thoughts Koreans may have about that country would be no more than fleeting, inconsequential stereotypes.

But there are a few countries around the world that are exceptions to this trend -- that is, although Korea does not interact with them all that frequently, Koreans nonetheless have a relatively concrete feeling toward them. Turkey is one of those countries.

Koreans supporting Turkish national soccer team during 2002 FIFA World Cup
in a game against China, held in Seoul. (source)
Why Turkey? For this simple reason -- during Korean War, Turkey sent soldiers in aid of South Korea. In fact, Turkey sent the most number of soldiers (5,460) after the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, and had the most number of casualties (741 dead, 2,068 wounded, 163 MIA) following United States and United Kingdom among those countries that sent soldiers.

One should never underestimate just how grateful South Koreans are about being helped in that war. To this day, most Koreans would first associate Turkey with "blood ally" [혈맹]. It also helps that, since the end of the war, Turkey and Korea have maintained a healthy distance that is so crucial to a good friendship. (This is in contrast to the United States, which undoubtedly did a lot of things to annoy Koreans partially because it has been a little too close, eating away at the good will it earned by having been the greatest help in Korean War.) The fact that Korean pop culture ended up being popular in Turkey later is just gravy.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

36 comments:

  1. Wow, thanks Korean! It's great to hear from you that Koreans have the same kind of sympathy Turkish people have for Korea. As a Turkish student learning Korean, I've been in Korea for a short time and when people asked us where we are from and got the answer Turkey, most of them were immediately exclaiming "형제". I think the two peoples have some similar characteristics, too, like becoming friendly easily and the way they show emotions:) There are many many young people in Turkey who are interested in Korea and I hope the good relationship will go on.

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  2. This is interesting! Just recently, I was talking to a Korean girl (in her 20s) about Turkey and was surprised to hear her say that she likes Turkey a lot and thinks that Turkish people are very similar to Koreans culturally. I didn't know the history about the war, thanks for sharing.

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  3. When I read the headline, my first thought it was referring to turkey the meat product. I thought, "Wow! The Korean must be running low on questions to answer." :D

    Not to worry, though! It was a great and informative read for me. I learned another new and wonderful thing about S. Korea. Thanks!

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    1. Alice, if the question had been about turkey the food, the answer would be that SoKos generally find that bird to be very gamey. I know this from having served turkey to hundreds of SoKos. This is no exaggeration. If I were to make a mathematical function of SoKo attitudes toward turkey, the slope would be such that the higher one's age, the greater the likelihood that they would ask, "You actually have a major holiday centered around eating this?!"

      As for Turkey the country, after Korean War bravery comes to mind, the next most common association South Koreans have with Turkey is 터키탕. As in Turkish baths, not turkey soup.

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    2. I'm a Ko-Am raised mostly in the U.S., and after all these decades I still hate turkey. The bland, stark, mouth-drying slices served at Thanksgiving are bad enough, but the thought of making soup with it makes me cringe. I'll accept it in a club sandwich, but only because its insipidity is drowned out by the ham/bacon and tomato. If Thanksgiving were celebrated with kidney-spleen-prostate-and-appendix pie instead of sliced turkey, I'd have a better time.

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    3. Sam, I always preferred dark meat precisely for the reason you say. Sometimes you can get very moist white meat, but most people don't do it right.

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  5. I would recommend this article by Gavin D. Brockett, titled, "The Legend of 'The Turk' in Korea: Popular Perceptions of the Korean War and Their Importance to a Turkish National Identity". War & Society, Volume 22, Number 2, October 2004 , pp. 109-142(34). While acknowledging Turkey's role in the War, even the home-stay that I lived with in Korea for a time thought highly of Turkey and vacationed there, I do wonder how or if Koreans remember the incident that happened at Kunu-ri that has not been discussed in the official Turkish accounts:

    "The Korean War coincided with a particularly vulnerable moment in the history of Republican Turkish political and social history, and the fact that Turkish victories in the war were followed by Turkey's inclusion within NATO has enshrined the legacy of 'the Turk' in Korea in popular memory. That this legend has remained beyond the bounds of critical scholarship so far suggests its centrality to the nation's sense of identity. Indeed one aspect of the historical record
    indicates that, even at the time, Turks were concerned that it fulfil this function: namely, the series of battles at Kunu-ri in late November 1950. The earliest press reports of this engagement, both Turkish and international, drew attention to the fact that Turks had amazed ally and enemy alike early on by killing many and capturing some 200 Chinese soldiers. Indeed it was these reports that set the tone for subsequent images associated with the Turkish Brigade. A highly respected American history of this part of the war, 'The River and the Gauntlet' by S.L.A.Marshall contains, however, an additional piece of information: namely that this famed encounter in fact constituted an unfortunate case of mistaken identity or 'friendly fire', and that the Turks had instead killed and captured allied Korean soldiers. At the time this mistake was not acknowledged, although evidently it was discovered when an interpreter interrogated the prisoners. It is a detail that a number of American authors, drawing on Marshall, have repeated in subsequent accounts, casting an unfortunate shadow over the legacy of Turkish participation in the Korean War." (p. 140-1)

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  6. While I was in Turkey this past winter I was so surprised to hear Turkish reactions to the fact that I lived in Korea. Some people spouted out a few Korean words they knew, others told me how they'd love to travel there. It's not just a one way love, Turks really seem to love Korea, too!

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    1. Thanks for you Information, I learn much information with this post. Online Training.

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  7. Joel,
    While I don't deny the possibility of the incident happening (it probably happened), such friendly fire casualty was very very common in Korean War. S Korean and even own American troops were mistakenly bombed by American fighters often. I've heard of small units of American/British and other allies in Korean mistakenly took N Korean forces for S Korean etc etc. Some ended with tragic consequences while others were comical.

    IMO the Turkish army in the Korean war is famous for taking lots of casualties and repulsing an attack by Chinese force of 3 times its size etc etc.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_Brigade

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  8. dbagoo, the article is making a connection between Turkish nationalism and the omission of such an incident from the official history. that this is not in the popular Korean imaginary interests me. i think your point is well taken that they played a costly part in the war, and that such incidents were not as rare as I may have assumed. again, what interest me is whether this incident was omitted from Korean accounts/historical literature as it is from Turkish accounts/historical literature?

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    1. You are making an agressive statement base on one sided article! Very interesting! Does this article mention how American army mistreat the Turkish soldiers without given any proper information before sending them the battle field to their death? or that doesn't interests you..or have you read any other articles about the other countries such as the mistakes made by American Army..I'm just curious!

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  9. I don't know much about it, other than sharing the same kind of observations about how Koreans always seem to warm up when Turkey is mentioned, but I had a taxi driver once who told me that he went to work construction in Turkey during the 80s, and that many Koreans had, and had made a good living that way and brought back warm stories about the culture there, and that a big part of why Turkey is so popular in Korea is because of this.

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  10. I'm no expert by any means, and I'm not sure how relevant this is, but I always thought that the fact that Korean and Turkish both belong to the Altaic language family (along with Japanese, Mongolian, and a couple others), and thus are distantly related, had some bearing on the mutual feeling of kinship between the two peoples

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  11. Whoa, didn't know this.

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  12. NONONONO, PEOPLE.
    Most of Koreans know that the reason why they call Turkey as "Brother's Country" is just because of their support during Korean War. But, this is the real reason. Please read this. Ancient Turks, called GokTurks were political, economical and millitary allies with ancient Koreans, called Goguryeo. That's why they sent huge support to Korea during the Korean War.


    Ancient Turks, called GokTurks were political, economical and millitary allies with ancient Koreans, called Goguryeo. Both the GokTurks and Goguryeo did not have a specific boundary, better yet, one day you could be a GokTurk while tomorrow you could be a Goguryeo person. The ancient Chinese, Sui Dynasty built and expanded the "Great Wall of China" to distinguish themselves and to fight off the "DongYi"(aka Northern or Eastern Barbarians). The Barbarians which they regarded were us, the GokTurks and Goguryeo.

    The GokTurks Empire expanded West of Manchuria to all of Central Asia (significantly bigger than today's Mongolia). To the East of Manchuria, including half of present day Korean peninsula was Goguryeo. Both of these groups were very skillful in shooting arrows while superbly maneuvering on a horse. This is the traditional Altaic fighting tactic, very different from the rest of the world.

    The GokTurks allied with Goguryeo were fighting off the Sui Dynasty of China for hundreds of years, until a mischievous tactic by the Sui made the GokTurks to split into two groups. The Turks were driven out of their land to the West. The Sui Dynasty immediately faced rebellion by its own people because of millitary exhaustion. It gave rise to Tang Dynasty of China. Eventually, Goguryeo, without its Turkic brothers/ally, it fell to the Tang-Shilla alliance in 668AD.

    After and during the existence and fall of the GokTurks and Goguryeo, it gave rise to smaller tribes and kingdoms spreading all over Asia+Europe. These were, the Khitans, Balhae, Turks, Uyghurs, Mohe, Malgal, Goryeo etc. Balhae's fall lead to merging with Goryeo(today's Koreans). The Khitans, Mohe, and Malgal joined Genghis Khan's Mongolia. Turks reside in present day Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uyghurs, etc. while Huns reside in present day Hungary. (The Hunnic migration preceded the Turk migration to the West). (Bulgars in Bulgaria were also founded by Altaic Peoples under a "Khan"/"Han").

    GokTurks and Goguryeo (later Mongolia) also followed the Han/Gan/Khan tradition(not to mistake with Chinese Han). The Altaic Han/Gan/Khan has a different meaning, it means "leader" or "country." The oldest last name existing in Korea is the Cheongju Clan Han, which by geneological studies, considered to be 5000+ years old. This last name also exists in Turkey today. "KH" in Russian is pronounced with a "H." Thus, when the history of "KHAN" was introduced to Westerners, they were just read as "KHAN", when originally it's pronounced, "Han."

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    1. Turks and Koreans are closely related since the ancient times. But that's not why we are borhter-countries/blood allies. It's because Turkey had a big a role in supporting South Korea against the communist china and North Korea in the Korean War.

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    2. That's good story i have never heard before...Thanks for sharing it with us..

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    3. Thanks for sharing this info with us...Our friendship dates back to the ancient times..

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  13. I am Turkish and I have never been to Korea but I always thought it as a brother country. Just recently Kenan Imirzalioglu (Drama:Ezel) during the 2012 Seoul International Drama Awards called Korea the brother country. One reason is that Turkish pride is important for us and we see our soldiers as the guards of Turkish pride along with our culture. Korea has our soldiers`blood on their soils and Korea showed such a respect by building up the memorial cemetery for our soldiers that we were all impressed. In Turkey we have these kinds of cemeteries all over Turkey for our soldiers including Anitkabir for Ataturk (the founder of Turkey who was also a soldier). With the love and respect showed during 2002 world cup our interest towards Korea grew even more.

    Cultural wise, Korea and Turkey resemble to each other in the sense of respect. For Turkish people respect is very important. Especially towards our seniors we respect and we never call them by their first names...We use older brother, older sister, aunt,uncle,grandmother or grandfather exactly like in Korea. We bow 90 degrees in front of the grandfathers and grandmothers and kiss their hands( bowing part I believe is similar to Korea).Same thing goes with our teachers, as in Korean primary and high schools students in Turkey immediately get up from their desks to pay respect to the teacher who enters the room.Also children(boys or girls) stay with their parents until they go to the university. If I am not mistaken it is similar in Korea.In turkey ,like Korea(I believe in Korea it is 24 months), there is a mandatory army time(18 months) for all the boys over 18 years old.Of course the age changes depending on the school, health status...etc.These are some similarities that I can think of now. I believe these are the biggest reasons why Korean people feel at home in Turkey or vice verse.

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  14. Turks and Koreans are actually brother-hood each other. Both countries have been deeply connected in their history, which should be still in effect in their modern age. I'm a pure-blooded Korean and I find Turks my brothers in family.

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    1. As a Turk I feel the same way brother. We honored to bleed alongside with you against those who threatened your existence.

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    2. I'm Turkish-American I from İzmir Turkey,I'm married with an American soldier and I earn my citizenship. Lots of my family man fight for Korea war between 1950-53 I never meet two cousins died there and my father wounded in that war. But I always so proud. Yes I love Korean people, today in here America most of my friends from Korea or Korean-Americans.From life styles,social living, costumes, foods,our historical bounds and lots of other things we have to much similarities.i love Korea❤Fighting!!!

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  16. wow i reaaly feel goosebums when i hear the stories about turks and koreans fighting together. the turks originate from asia and are indeed related to koreans in the past. i hope that one day turkey and korea make a movie about the korean war together. so that every generation will remember this brotherhood vetween turkey and korea

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  17. Turks were originally mongols who came from east asia. Kurds are Korea's friends.

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    1. Yes some of Turkish people were Mongol(Thousand Arms) Turks but.. not at all. Because %50 of the Turkey from Oghuz Turks. ;)
      my father was Mongul Khaganate(Mongol Empire) origin.. who was from Genghis Khagan's descendant.
      Also i wanna say to every people here.. all these Kurds as blood are communist-terrorist :D

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    2. Kurds are friends of Koreans? Man... Kurds are only good at killing babies and bombing crowded cities. Being friends are not Kurds' speciality.

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    3. hahahahah wtf! Kurds are baby killers. PKK terrorist group are Marxist-Leninist Kurds.... I live in a place with a quite of "ok" kurdish neighbourhood and when i say "Do you know Koreans?" they say "What are Koreans?"...

      Turks and Koreans are blood allies. We Turks supported Koreans in the Korean War against communist pigs China and North Korea...

      Oh ye... Mongols are not Turks and Turks are not Mongols. Go study history lmao

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  18. Yeah, not only was it because of Korean War, but I think a lot of Koreans know that Turks and Korean share a common ancestry (not all, but some)

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  19. http://www.doureios.com/magazine/TurksInKorea.html

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  20. is it not just numbers. İ mean that what is the difference between more people sent and less. The Uk had soldiers there too but is not seen as a brother nation

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  21.  YesTurks and Korean share a common ancestry with same customs and culture. We love Koreans!

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  22. Well, it is mainly because of the Turkish brigade in Korean War between 1950-1953 that the brigade was very stubborn, highly able to fight a,d repulse attacks. Turkish soldiers at the time owned the war like it is their own independence war which was just 25-30 years before Korean war. As a result, Turkey also became a member of NATO after the success in this war. Also, cultures and language are very close to each other if you omit the religion part in Turkey. As a Turkish, I was in USA going around the Korean war memorial and stopped by Turkish photos. One Korean middle age man and his family noticed me then they came and asked me if I am Turkish. When I said yes, the husband gave me a huge hug suddenly that i was shocked. All family hugged me one by one and took a photo with me and thanked me. I was surprised at the time. But later our neighbours found some tourists in my hometown and they were from Korea, neighbours did not allow them to stay at a hotel and they hosted them (maybe by force ahahha) for seven days, guided them, cooked for them, showed places, drove them around just because Turkish people love Koreans. I have many Korean friends and whenever I meet a new one, I always feel warmth and they feel warmth towards me. Great nation, great culture.

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  23. We love you korea, we always love you. Korea❤️Turkey

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