April 10, 2015 10:11 am

IATE Term of the Week – Defector

This week, we have chosen the term “defector“, following this week’s discussion on the linguistic gap between South and North Koreans.

picture term IATE


The term ‘defector’ usually refers to a person who leaves a cause or a country in favour of an opposing one. In this case, the term of the week is about citizens whose territory, as an outcome of World War II, has been split into two halves. This also implies a linguistic gap between the two Koreas, called ‘Hanguk’ in the South and ‘Chosun’ in the North.

The South and the North have been divided for 70 years now and therefore the North Korean refugees experience a linguistic barrier being unable to speak South Korean. A new smartphone app named ‘Univoca’, developed in Seoul, should now remedy this issue and encourage the North Korean refugees to feel more comfortable with the South Korean language. This is possible because the two parts of the country still share the same phonetic alphabet and writing system, called ‘Hangeul’. North Korean defectors and professionals helped translating common South Korean terms. For North Korean teen defectors it is very important to overcome this language difficulty to integrate into the southern community.

The creation of a unified dictionary has been a subject for a long period of time now. Chief editor Han Young-Un considers it a very important project as according to him, this linguistic divide may become an obstacle to eventual unification of the South and the North of the Korean territory.

We invite you to suggest the equivalent terms in the missing EU languages, or alternatives to the existing term in your language if you consider the proposed term inaccurate. Provide you answer with a reliable reference and possibly an accurate definition and/or context.

Contribute to IATE!

A terminologist for the respective language will revise your answer and decide whether to validate them. Given the implications of the process, a delay is to be expected.


Language translation app

By Cathy Ferrari, study visitor at TermCoord Unit

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