Toponyms can be used as the basic materials with which to develop an awareness of the regional and historical characteristics of a certain area. Furthermore, toponyms, which constitute the end result of people’s perceptions of the environment, can provide important clues to identify how people perceived places, regions, and landscapes. The present study reviews Korean perceptions of the environment based on an examination of the toponymic terms used in conjunction with Korean village names during the early twentieth century. In addition, the study also compares the general regional characteristics of individual provinces. The toponymic terms analyzed herein are divided into those related to location, topography, water, and weather, with the frequency and ratio of each example measured. In the past, Koreans preferred closed geographical areas such as valleys and basins as a location for villages. Within such valleys and basins, they sought out places that were elevated, centralized, or located further inland. Furthermore, Koreans considered the supply of sunlight, a factor which greatly influenced everyday life and agriculture, as the most important weather-related attribute when it came to the determination of the location of villages. As such, toponymic terms such as yang (light), dong (east), and chun (spring) were frequently used in the names of village. The theory of yin 陰and yang 陽and the Five Elements, which constitutes a traditional Asian school of thought, also influenced the use of toponymic terms.
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