Koreans call their national flower 무궁화. That's the without being 無 all-used-up 窮 flower 花, because the blooms last for a long time. If you look 무궁화 up in your Korean-English dictionary, you are likely to find that this bush and flower combination is called "rose of Sharon." In the US, it is true "rose of Sharon" refers to the plant called Hibiscus syriacus
In the UK, however, this same appelation is applied to the flower Hypericum calycinum
So it's clearly best to define your terms before launching into any long speeches on the rose of Sharon.
Either way, who is Sharon? Why are people naming different flowers after her? And what is her problem that she doesn't seem to know what a real rose looks like? The name was borrowed from the Song of Songs in the Old Testament
. Because the 무궁 flower was thought to have come from Syria and, thus, could well have been the object of Solomon's song, which isn't specified very clearly in the first place.
But the 무궁화 flower didn't come from Syria.
It's from Asia.
Now that you've diligently studied your Chinese characters, undoubtedly you're ready to have a cocktail napkin conversation with the next Chinese person you run into who doesn't speak enough English or Korean for 의사소통. You can just whip out your Mont Blanc fountain pen and write
韓國 國花 = 無窮花.
中國 國花 = ?
in that nice penmanship you've practiced so hard on your napkin and you'll be having a deep conversation in no time, right?
It turns out that there's a single
character that means 무궁화. It looks like this 槿 and it's called '무궁화 근.' That
's the character you'll want to write on your napkin, 'cause Chinese folk don't get '무궁화' any more than English-speakers get 'never ending flower' (Susie Younger's book by that title where she talks about her attempts to save Korean prostitutes
This character is not unknown in Korea: 박근혜
's 근 is 무궁화 근, after all.
In days past, even manly men would take pennames like "Apricot 梅 Moon 月 Hall 堂
," but flowers in men's names (or nicknames) is a practice that has waned. Probably since that whole 단종 thing
rendered 김시습 a hopeless vagabond for the rest of his life. But I did meet a man in town not long ago. His name was a 외자: 槿, and he was very proud of it because of the patriotism represented.
Maybe flower names for men are coming back in. Is it time for the Sanchon Hunjang to take a more floral 호
? I'd better be sure and pick one that has a clear antecedent to avoid problems down the road. ^^