Now that we have our first North Korea question I decided to check if we previously used or .

So right now we have and redirects to it!

I find this a bit wrong, no matter the fact that we'll have a lot more questions about South than North, that the North is bad, or that lots of people say "Korea" when they mean "South Korea" - just as I do.

But we're an expert site so we shouldn't really make the assumption and just offer and .

The tag completion feature will show the two options as people start typing "Korea". If lots of people with the tag creation privilege started to re-create the plain "korea" tag I believe there's a tag blacklist feature used on some other SE sites.

  • I asked a related question on English.SE: What does the most common usage of 'Korea' mean in modern-day English-speaking world? Dec 17, 2011 at 12:36
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    Yep it's fine and normal to use Korea to refer to South Korea in English. But a travel site has different needs and goals to an English site. Also many users will have non native English and mindcorrosive points out in another comment that that the expectation of native speakers might not match that of non native speakers, and as a travel site we're interested in least surprise to all contributors more than adhering to correct or native English norms. Dec 17, 2011 at 12:59

5 Answers 5


Absolutely not -- regardless of how people feel about North Korea, we should not assume that "Korea" is the same as "South Korea". In fact, "Korea" refers to both the ancient civilization as well as the geographical area which comprises the territories of both North and South Korea.

So, for me the right way to go is to remove the synonym between and . I don't think we should resort to blacklisting just yet -- there might be conceivably questions about Korea in general, for which a tag like would work well.

As usual, with proper tag descriptions we can clear up any confusions and deny attempts of politicizing discussions which should solely be devoted to travelling.

  • Sorry I was half way through my response when I saw your answer poop-up. My way of getting around confusion was to show visibly that korea redirects to south-korea - if we don't synonymise them, we WILL have confusion.
    – Mark Mayo
    Dec 17, 2011 at 9:18
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    @MarkMayo: I'm sorry to see that you think my answer "pooped up" :-) Dec 17, 2011 at 9:20
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    oops. "popped up", I hope you realise I meant ;)
    – Mark Mayo
    Dec 17, 2011 at 9:41
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    Hmm possibly, but I think Freud would have something to contribute to this comment thread if he were about (-; Dec 17, 2011 at 10:50
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    +1, but in addition I'd observe that a tag whose meaning is ambiguous isn't very useful for categorisation. Dec 18, 2011 at 8:29

I thought I had already commented on this. I disagree with the un-mapping. Among seasoned travellers, it may be common to ask for 'North or South' clarifications. Among general English speaking public this is not so, and as you quoted in your public usage 'Korea' almost always refers to South Korea. I feel a tag wiki clarification should be put up and 'Korea' mapped back to South Korea. The two countries are so different in logistics related to travel that it's highly unlikely questions will be asked about the region as a whole, and secondly, tagging is for helping categorise information, not to make a political point whether it is insensitive to refer to South Korea as Korea.

As hippietrail pointed out in this meta questions, tags and their tag wikis are for describing what the tag should be applied to, not the dictionary definition. Un-mapping is going to open a whole different can of worms on what autonomous regions are tagged as.

EDIT: As explained here, I really think the most consistent way of reconciling how tags work on our site is to go by common usage. So I'm mapping back to .

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    I deleted my previous comment because I thought it might appear as unecessarily hostile. But my question still remains - What makes you think your argument is superior to the one that got 8 upvotes above?
    – victoriah
    Dec 20, 2011 at 1:13
  • And in case it's not clear, I think this is a very poor use of moderating tools. A consensus had clearly been reached and if you disagree it's up to you to discuss it, not override everyone else and make discussion of it moot.
    – victoriah
    Dec 20, 2011 at 1:14
  • See this in the context of the China question: going by similar logic, when you say 'China' do you mean 'People's Republic of China' or 'Republic of China'? And thus we shouldn't have a 'China' tag? This goes against user expectations: what would a typical user think if the 'China' tag was blacklisted because of this? I think we should go by most common English language usage. While I do appreciate the community sentiment, this is not about dictionary definitions. As in Mark's answer, when people drop the prefix what they usually mean S. Korea. Dec 20, 2011 at 8:56
  • I didn't say anything about dictionary definitions. I was specifically asking why you went against the agreement of the community on this. I don't find the reference to China to be particularly helpful; everybody refers to Taiwan as Taiwan, but it is vastly more common for people to distinguish between North & South Korea. And that by itself is not even relevant - the question is not "what are people most likely to call the Koreas", but "what is the most useful way of categorising them". Most people who ask questions here will probably be (cont.)
    – victoriah
    Dec 20, 2011 at 8:59
  • reasonably experienced travelers, who, as you said yourself, will be aware of the distinction, and those who are not are more likely to be confused by a generic "korea" tag than helped by it. And all of this is by ITSELF irrelevant because apparently your mod tools mean that the rest of us need not bother with discussion.
    – victoriah
    Dec 20, 2011 at 9:01
  • Please don't try to have a conversation in comments. You can carry this on in the chatroom as well as look at yesterday's chat history. My primary reason for reverting was consistency: if we don't allow the Korea tag, then I don't see how we can allow a China tag by similar reasoning either. Have you even seen what suggestions are made when someone types in 'Korea'? The two options are 'South Korea' and 'North Korea'. Like with most tag synonyms we have, we go for most common logical and usage mappings. Dec 20, 2011 at 9:12
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    I do apologise for the fact that a decision was reverted, this does look like bad form. The moderators should have taken more time to think / talk this through. For that, I also apologise to @MarkMayo for not weighing in earlier. I'll make efforts on my part to ensure such goof-ups don't happen due to miscommunication. I do believe however that the decision take is in the best interests and the most consistent way of implementing tagging. Dec 20, 2011 at 9:16

Cough, I did this, and I had a reason! ;) (no, no, bear with me...)

Take the countries' official names:

By that, is more appropriate for South Korea. Formally and informally, when people drop the geographical prefix, and say Korea, it's always South Korea. Very, very rarely will you have North Korea called "Korea" - everyone specifies the North part, or calls it the DPRK.

As further evidence of this, even Obama refers to South Korea as simply Korea.

In addition, even products from South Korea say "Made in Korea" on them.

enter image description here

Right, now that I've defended the right to synonymise to , I'll look forward to rebuttals - I'm not saying that's the final answer, just that it makes sense in my head ;)

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    I don't think I agree with your reasoning -- you can't blame South Koreans for implying that they are the only Korea there is -- they are not particularly fond of their northern neighbours, to put it mildly. And, of course, Obama refers to South Korea by "Korea" for political reasons, given their long-standing rift with DPPK. Dec 17, 2011 at 9:24
  • For comparison, in Bulgarian, if one says "Korea", I'd have to infer from context which of the two is meant, but I'd never assume one or the other automatically. Dec 17, 2011 at 9:27
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    Even in the Koreas people often just use Korea, and not always for the reasons you expect. Both countries have long standing reunification goals and see the peninsula as a single country that will sooner or later be restored - just not on the political basis of the other half. From the Koreans perspective it is one country divided by history, politics, and war. From a traveller's perspective it is two countries. Being a travel-oriented and strongly non-political site we should look only at the travel perspective just as we would for Palestine, Taiwan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Macedonia, etc, etc. Dec 17, 2011 at 9:38
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    If you follow this reasoning, the china tag should be about Taiwan. Reserving “Korea” for South Korea is ambiguous and unnecessarily politicizes the issue. Dec 18, 2011 at 19:05
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    @Gilles: Actually, if you followed this logic, the China tag would be about the People's Republic of China ... which it is. Dec 20, 2011 at 1:44

The People's Republic of China has the tag, and the Republic of China merely has the tag (I added a link from China to Taiwan before seeing this question).

If Taiwan doesn't get equal billing to the PRC, why should North Korea get equal billing to South Korea? Although North Korea has more diplomatic recognition than Taiwan, Taiwan is by far a more major tourist destination than North Korea.

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    Not sure what you mean by "not getting equal billing". china and taiwan are separate tags currently. Arguments for not making them a synonyms are the same as in my answer above. Dec 19, 2011 at 15:09
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    Besides, as mentioned in numerous places, we're not here to determine whether A is a major tourist destination or B has more diplomatic relations. People often like to visit a region, regardless which country claims that particular territory. Any addition of political discourse is counter-productive. Dec 19, 2011 at 15:11
  • We should take the pragmatic approach like Lonely Planet and Wikitravel do. If they're separate entities as far as a tourists are concerned, they are separate entities as far as our site here is concerned. Naming then follows Wikipedia's lead when there are multiple choices (I think we decided this months ago). Dec 19, 2011 at 16:04
  • @mindcorrosive : I've outlined my logic at meta.travel.stackexchange.com/questions/567/… Dec 19, 2011 at 21:57
  • @mindcorrosive: Since that question's been closed: "China" refers only to the PROC (and not the Republic of China), whereas Korea is being proposed to refer to both North and South Korea. Dec 20, 2011 at 1:42

OK, after seeing the counter-arguments, and thinking, and waiting for the other mods to comment (They seem to have sensibly overlooked it ;)), I'm going with this:

  • is perfectly fine for meaning South-Korea in conversation, manufacturing, and political discourse. It's not a political comment like some we've seen trying to claim Palestine or Kosovo aren't countries.

  • However, this is a travel site, and people especially from other languages who may not abbreviate easily need specific unambiguous tags. It's the unambiguous word that I'm focusing on here to change my mind ;)

I'll update the tags now, although as usual it may take a few hours to reflect.


The downside is we will need to be extra vigilant on any korea tags, to ensure they're either fixed to South or North, or to confirm that they are talking about the entire peninsula if they merely say .

This has been reverted by me for reasons mentioned here. - Ankur Banerjee

  • Well only people with high-ish rep can create new tags, and by the time they get there they will be used to the tag preview-as-you-type. Also unlike Europe or North America I expect pan-Korean-peninsula questions to be vanishingly scarce until glorious reunification is achieved. So no problems and only benefits (-: Dec 19, 2011 at 8:11
  • I can't help but wonder how today's news will alter this...
    – Mark Mayo
    Dec 19, 2011 at 8:15
  • ? I better go read the news right away! Dec 19, 2011 at 8:20
  • Yes maybe it will be reunificated faster than expected... Dec 19, 2011 at 11:16
  • Keep dreaming! :)
    – victoriah
    Dec 20, 2011 at 0:52
  • there used to be areas in the DPRK (North Korea) that you could visit from the ROK(South Korea) however they stopped after a couple of south Korea tourists got shot. Also how do you classify the DMZ in a tag, I assume based on the country you enter it from?
    – Stuart
    Dec 21, 2011 at 14:10

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