Go to contents

[Opinion] The Trouble with Ae-pil

Posted November. 30, 2004 22:51,   


When we look around and see some cases in which some people go through troubles or are bullied because of their names, we realize that it is not as easy to name a child as is often thought. In effect, finding a good, meaningful, and easy name to pronounce is a difficult task. That is why many parents go to great lengths to give a good name to their newly born babies--they look up dictionaries or visit renowned namists. There are some who apply for a change of their name as they have painful memories of having been bullied because of their ludicrous names. Yet Ahn Seong-ki, whose given name can mean genitals in Korean, achieved his fame and popularity thanks in part to his unforgettable name.

There are so many unusual and eye-catching names in this world. For starters, there are names that are hard to forget, such as Gu Se-ju, (meaning savior), Im Shin-jung (I am pregnant), and Goh Chu-yang, which can mean a man’s genitals. There are also names that sound like university names: Kim Yeon-dae, Yoon Go-dae, Yi Hwa-dae, So Gang-dae, Han Yang-dae, Han Seong-dae, and Kang Won-dae. In other cases, names can include words for occupations: Kong Moo-won (meaning public servant), Park Nong-boo (farmer), Cho Pan-sa (judge), Jang Eui-sa (mortician), Min Sa-jang (head of a company), and Oh Si-in (poet). Some names also sound as if they have to do with alcohol such as Yang Joo (meaning western alcohol), Joo Dang (heavy drinker), and An Joo (side dish for drinks). Moreover, there are some names that have so embarrassing or bad meanings that it is hard to even mention them: Bang Gwi-neyo (fart), Sung Nak-tae (abortion), Ban Hang-kyoon (rebellion), and Ahn Sin-roe (no trust). Whatever others say about the above-mentioned names, however, these names are meaningful to those who have them.

A computer maniac in Michigan, U.S. became famous after he gave his newly born son earlier this year a name adding “version 2.0” to his own name. In so doing, the father meant to indicate that his little son was an upgraded person of his father. He thought that adding “Junior” or “II” to a father’s name was too old-fashioned. He went on to say that he planned to call his future grandson “version 3.0.” In Korea, we also saw a daughter-in-law of President Roh Moo-hyun posting an article on the Internet saying, “The little girl’s grandfather recommended ‘Roh Da-ji’ and ‘Roh Saeng-geum.’”

In the meantime, the Korean Anti-AIDS Federation’s newly designated name for condom, Ae-pil, has run into unexpected opposition. That is, people whose given name is Ae-pil roundly voiced their disapproval for the new name for a condom. In a way, their argument makes sense--they are saying that they are being bullied by others and called Hwang Condom, Song Condom, or Bang Condom. The Anti-Aids Federation says it sought unofficial advice from the National Human Rights Committee and lawyers in this case, a remark that rings hollow to Ae-pils. Yet, the blame should go to no one since neither the federation nor parents who gave that name could have been able to foresee the potential troubles the name could bring about.