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朝鲜 is known as 朝日鲜明的国家, where 朝日 means the sun in the morning so it should be Zhao招 but not Chao潮, and 鲜明 means flashy, clear and bright so it should be Xian先 in first tone but not Xian显 in third tone.

But why does it become 潮显 or 曹县 when cut short?

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If you ask for why people sometimes say "曹县" meaning 朝鲜, It's a meme.

https://www.bilibili.com/video/BV12V411n7v5

Basically, 曹县 is a small county in 山东 not known by most people. Someone made a video about it claiming it's very powerful with very iconic but vulgar tone, and it became viral on the Chinese internet. It surely not at all represent the county correctly and is even insulting, but it's just too funny.

Then people started calling North Korea with this because the similar pronunciation, usually with a sarcastic tone.

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The Chinese pronunciation of 朝鮮 was carried from the sound of the Korean word "조선". You can hear the pronunciation here, and here.

  • "조선" (朝鮮, Joseon) was the official name of Korea from 1394 to 1897, the de facto name from 1897 to 1910, and again the official name from 1910 to 1945 (though as a Japanese colony). When referring to Korea during these periods, all Koreans use the word 조선 (朝鮮, Joseon).

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