이방인 vs. 외국인

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Flooooooooor

Senior Member
English - USA
Hi all,

외국인 is definitely the go-to term my friends use to mean 'foreigner' but I recently encountered 이방인 and am curious about its usage. 네이버 국어사전 gives 이방인 two definitions:

1. 다른 나라에서 온 사람.

(This seems pretty much the same in meaning as 외국인. For all I know, though, it may sound archaic or formal, or both! When will Korean people choose to say or write 이방인 instead of 외국인?)

2. <기독교> 유대인이 선민의식에서 그들 이외의 여러 민족을 얕잡아 이르던 말.

(Do Korean Christians use 이방인 to describe how relatively modern Jews have at times referred disparagingly to non-Jews? Or instead, is 이방인 the word Korean biblical texts use to refer to ancient non-Hebrew tribes like the Canaanites and the Moabites? The definition suggests this was a term used in the past, but I'm not sure how far back we're talking about!)

Any perspective, especially from someone familiar with Christian education in South Korea for definition #2, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 
  • Kross

    Senior Member
    Korean
    We almost never use 이방인 for foreigners in everyday conversations. It is more like a religious term commonly found in Bible. As far as I know the word in the book refers to ancient non-Hebrew tribes.
     

    Rance

    Senior Member
    Korean
    It may be helpful to look up the definitions for 이방(異邦) and 외국(異邦).

    이방
    異邦[발음 : 이ː방]
    명사
    [같은 말] 이국(異國)(인정, 풍속 따위가 전혀 다른 남의 나라).
    외국
    外國[발음 : 외ː국/웨ː국]
    명사
    자기 나라가 아닌 다른 나라. [비슷한 말] 외방4(外邦)ㆍ이조7(異朝).
    외국 sounds a lot more neutral term while 이방 also implies different culture/language of different nation.
    But generally speaking, you will rarely hear people using 이방인 other than religious context.
    이국 is more popular than 이방 too.
     

    조금만

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Got it....thanks to you both!

    As an aside...

    TV drama addicts will recognize this word from the title of possibly one of the worst ever examples of the genre, perpetrated by SBS last year: 닥터 이방인 , officially "translated" as Doctor Stranger.

    The connotations of that title, completely lost in the translation "Stranger", are of someone disturbingly or suspiciously "alien", an "outsider" who evokes suspicion or unease on the grounds of "not being one of us". That makes it quite unacceptable to modern Koreans as a general purpose word for "foreigner".

    Previously, I'd only encountered the word in Psalm 137

    우리가 이방에 있어서 어찌 여호와의 노래를 부를꼬

    How shall we sing the LORD's song in a strange land?
     

    M.Disaster

    New Member
    Korean
    외국인: If the nationality in passport is officially not korean, he/she is 외국인 in Korea.

    이방인: If someone comes from another countries or regions and can not mix in a society cuz of cultural difference or language, then he/she is 이방인 there.
     

    Flooooooooor

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Hi M.Disaster (and 조금만, to whom I have owed a message for some time now),

    Thank you for this additional information. I think I have a much better idea of how to use the word!
     

    CharlesLee

    Member
    Korean
    Hej Flooooooooor,

    The old Jews considered others as 이방인, and our ancestors used the term too.

    Strangers in English fit with 이방인, while foreigners are 외국인.

    There's a reason why there are 2 words and 이방인 is not only a religious terminology but historical one.
     
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