If you’ve been learning about terms for outer space in Korean you might have noticed 성 pop up multiple times, 성 has Sino-Korean origins and uses the hanja 星 which means a star or planet. You’ll especially see it for planets in our solar system which all, excluding earth, end with 성 and have their own meaning for their names!
So lets get into all the 성 words and explore space in Korean!
항성: Star (별 is more common)
유성: Shooting star/meteor (when crashed its 운석)
소행성대: Asteroid belt
북두칠성: Big Dipper
Korean Planets Meaning
In both Korean and English planets are specifically named; for English most originate from roman gods, and for Korea a lot originate from elements! Its even similar that Earth or 지구 in Korean both don’t follow the naming system, probably because it was named much before we paid attention to the stars and identifying them haha.
Korean Meaning: Water Planet
English Meaning: Roman god of travel (because the planet moves fast)
Korean Meaning: Gold Planet
English Meaning: Roman goddess of love (it was considered the brightest and most beautiful)
Korean Meaning: Fire Planet
English Meaning: Roman god of war (based on its red blood-like color)
Korean Meaning: Wood Planet
English Meaning: Roman king of the gods (because of its massive size)
Korean Meaning: Earth Planet
English Meaning: Roman god of farming (the most distant planet visible Roman could see, named after Jupiter’s father)
Korean Meaning: King of Heaven Planet
English Meaning: Greek god of the sky (named in 1850s after romans, because Uranus was the father of Saturn).
Korean Meaning: King of the Sea Planet
English Meaning: Roman god of the sea (based on its blue color)
Korean Meaning: King of Darkness Planet
English Meaning: Roman god of the underworld (named in 1930’s by an 11 year old girl, probably because of Pluto’s ability to disappear)
Fun note: the days of the week in Korean also have a hanja basis with influence from the elements! 화요일 Tuesday is fire day and Mars is fire planet, same with 수요일 (Mercury – water), 목요일 (Jupiter – wood), 금요일 (Venus – gold), 토요일 (Saturn – earth).
월요일 is tied to 월 meaning moon. 월 comes from the Hanja 月, but people use 달 when talking about the moon which is the native Korean word. Similarly 일요일 for 일 which means day/sun. 일 comes from hanja 日 which means day and sun.