You must be half Korean if you are a Tamilian!

Nov 08, 2018

You must be half Korean if you are a Tamilian!
You must be half Korean if you are a Tamilian! | Credit: Whitepaper

Tamil is a language is has ancient origins and is one of the few antique languages that still have a sizeable population of speakers and natives. The state of Tamil Nadu is considered to be home to native Tamil speakers even though Tamilians have migrated world-over and have spread their culture far and out. In fact, countries like the USA, Canada, UAE, etc have a large section of Tamil immigrants. But, did you know that Tamil culture has links that date back by several centuries with other seemingly unrelated countries like Korea?

Yes, many similarities between the Tamil language and the Korean language have been noted by experts and laymen alike.

This includes common words such as amma (which means mother), appa (which means father), sorru (which means rice), pudhu (which means new), naal (which means day), pull (which means grass), etc. Structure-wise as well, the arrangement of various elements of the language have a similar pattern. Both the languages have a subject-object-verb structure; the same syntax is followed for adjectives as well.

Modifiers precede the modified and both languages are agglutinative. While it may be argued that these similarities are merely coincidental, what makes the connection look more probable are the similarities in the cultures.

The way that ancient civilisations in Tamil culture, as well as Korean culture, built their settlements is very similar. Household utensils that were used were also similar and were called by the same names. These include the ural (mortar) and ulakkai (pestle). The styles of agriculture, textile weaving, boat structures and pottery have striking similarities as well. The Korean drum dance and Tamil Thappaattam have many similar movements as well as a similar arrangement of 8-members that include two drummers.

International Cultural Exchange conferences that happen in both the countries have put the spotlight on such similarities and experts say that travelling along the coastal route could have made it easy for ancient Tamil people to migrate to Korea. Folklore has it that Queen Huh, who was the first queen of the Kaya Dynasty, transferred a heavy stone from India to Korea. This is believed to have been the base for the concept of ‘Ilavattaikal’ that a man is asked to lift before he can take a woman as his wife. The queen is said to have migrated from India and had a major Tamil influence on the people of Korea. There are also legendary stories of Pandian kings having strong ties with Korean kings way back in CE 45.

On the whole, the links between the two cultures are mired with common ancient tales as well as solid similarities. All speculations aside, the hard facts remain that there are thousands of common words between the Tamil language and the Korean language, the cultures share striking similarities, common practices are used to ward off evil in both cultures and last but not the least, Chennai has the largest number of Korean (over 4000) population in the present day.

These facts when viewed in isolation are not surprising as many countries in Asia have cultural and linguistic similarities with each other. However, when all facts are put together, it does look like Tamil and Korean heritages have links that run deep in history. It is important to dig deeper into our history and find out how much back into the past this link goes. After all, history holds the key to a better future and it is often as exciting as the future, if not more. If we put our efforts into finding out more about our rich history, who knows what valuable information we might get our hands on?