While watching 기황후 (Empress Ki) I caught on to the use of the word 동무, and wondered how this differs from the word 친구. Some of you might remember the scene where Wang Yu appears in Seung Nyang’s dream and encourages her to think of the implications for all of the people from Goryo in the palace if she follows through on her urge to kill the emperor. The dialogue goes along the lines of this:
Seung Nyang: It’s not my concern.
Wang Yu: Some of them are your friends!
Seung Nyang: I don’t have friends!
Wang Yu: Who are you kidding?
Cue me going “동무???” and rewinding to double check whether my hearing had failed me completely (my mother must absolutely love watching dramas with me when I do that). It hadn’t. Later I texted one of my language partners asking what was the difference between the two words. It turns out that 동무 used to be used quite frequently in South Korea, but since it took on the meaning of “comrade” in the communist sense in North Korea, South Koreans now say 친구 to express the meaning of “friend” as we know it.
Aha! And then there are people who say that you cannot learn from watching dramas 😉