The reason why Koreans Call the Emperor of Japan as “King of Japan”


Little known to the world, South Korea’s media outlets all call “Emperor of Japan (천황 天皇)” as “King of Japan (일왕 日王)”. Only Korea in the world uses “King of Japan”.

Didn’t know? Right. When you read news from Korea, English translators kindly “translate” the Korean word to “Emperor” for you. That’s why you don’t notice.

What is the difference between “King” and “Emperor” in Asia? Simply speaking, Emperor is the King of Kings (like in CHINA).

So, why Koreans intentionally use “King of Japan (일왕 日王)”?

It came from 中華思想  more accurately “Sinocentrism” which literally means “China is the center of the world” idea where countries far way are “inferior”. That inferior countries include Japan and all the the western countries.

And Korea had been a vassal state of China for hundreds of years especially after the treaty in 1637. Korean Kings served Chinese emperors of Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty etc for many many years.


Korea became a puppet state of China and the only emperor for King of Korea had to be the Chinese emperor according to the East Asian world order. And other countries became “inferior”.

In the other hand, in Japan, Shōtoku Taishi (574-622), Prince Regent of Japan, is famous for having sent a letter to the Emperor of China starting with the words: “The Emperor of the land where the sun rises sends a letter to the Emperor of the land where the sun sets to ask if you are healthy” (日出處天子致書日沒處天子無恙云云). Japan kept independence and equal foreign relations to China. (In reality, China mostly just ignored the “barbaric” state far away from China)

So, the puppet state of China (Korea) who thinks Japan as “inferior” which claim to be equal to China is in identity crisis. Koreans can not stand Japan is an independent state and equal to China (which superior to Korea).


Finally, since 1990’s, Koreans decided to deny that Japan has emperor and use “King” because the history of Korean Kings cannot be erased. So, they are like “Let’s take Japanese Emperor down to “King” so that Korea and Japan became equal”.

Childish? Yes, I agree. Can’t believe Korea that obsessed? You don’t know enough about Korea yet.

This is one of the roots of Korean anti-Japanism today.

Off course, Korean foreign ministers and the presidents uses the word “Japanese Emperor” in official diplomatic occasions. Yes, not THAT stupid, I guess. But the most of Korean media outlets uses “King of Japan” intentionally.

이명박 대통령이 일본군 위안부, 역사교과서 왜곡 등 과거사 문제와 관련해 연일 외교상의 관례를 넘어서는 강경 발언을 쏟아 내고 있어 그 배경을 놓고 관심이 쏠리고 있다. 지난 10일 대한민국 대통령으로는 처음으로 독도를 방문한 이 대통령은 14일에는 일왕(日王)까지 거론하며 과거사 문제의 조속한 해결을 촉구했다. 이 대통령의 이 같은 대일 공세는 현 정부뿐만 아니라 차기 정권에도 외교적 부담으로 작용할 것이라는 지적이 나온다.
이 대통령은 이날 충북 청원군 한국교원대학교를 방문한 자리에서 ‘독도 방문’에 대한 질문이 나오자 작심한 듯 직설적으로 일본을 몰아붙였다. 이 대통령은 현장에서 일왕이 ‘무릎을 꿇고’ 사과해야 한다는 표현을 쓴 것으로 알려졌지만, 이후 청와대가 공개한 발언록에는 빠진 것으로 확인됐다.

The president remarks on Japanese emperor in Aug 14th, 2012.

You can’t change the history if you change the word.

How childish.

Actually, Korea had an emperor and became independent for a very short period of time. After Japan defeated Qing dynasty, Japan forced Qing dynasty to let Korea free with Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895. And Japan granted the independence of Korea which later became “Korean Empire” in 1897 and made Korean King to Emperor showing its independence from China empire. And Korean can not stand this part of history either. And  they hate Japan for this too because “inferior/barbaric” Japan granted/gave an independence to a “great Korea” and, off course, for the Annexation of Korea in 1910 too.

So, South Korean anti-Japan sentiments will not disappear until we erase these history and create new “glorious 5000 years of Korean history™” or until Korea goes back to being a part of China like North Korea regime is today which is a traditionally “right” position and make Japan “inferior”.

Korean Narrative of History



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