Today’s Korea is a peninsula, so it is “almost” surrounded by seas or the Pacific Ocean.  However strange it may sound in English, Korea is “surrounded” by the seas on “three sides,” as all Korean children are taught in primary schools:  Koreans simply call them 동해 (The East Sea), 서해 (The West Sea), and 남해 (The South Sea).  The word 바다 refers to both sea and ocean in general.  That’s the reason why ordinary Koreans usually don’t distinguish “Sea” from “Ocean.” 

My favorite Korean poem on the theme of sea or ocean is “바다여 당신은” by 이해인.  As with song lyrics, poems can be best translated word for word as much as possible, for the benefit of Korean learners and beginning students.  Watching the Mediterranean Sea from Spain every day this month, I got inspired by its quintessential beauty, and selected a few beautiful sounding words from this emotive poem.  These words are not just poetic or literary.  They are very common words, and you can use them in everyday life:

파도 = Wave 

바람 = Wind 

어둠 = Darkness

빛 = Light 

사랑 = Love 

커다란 = Huge 

웃음 = Laughter 

용서하다 = Forgive 

바다 = Sea, Ocean [ Again, the pure Korean word 바다 means both sea and ocean.  A sino-Korean word 대양 refers to “ocean,” but mostly used in written documents, or in phrases such as 오대양 육대주.  In spoken Korean, 바다 is often added to the three seas mentioned above – 동해 바다, 서해 바다, and 남해 바다. ]

노래 = Song

우리 = We, us 

혼 = Soul

메아리 = Echo

종 = Bell

슬픔 = Sorrow 

배 = Boat, ship

화산 = Volcano

폭풍 = Storm 

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