In Avengers: Age of Ultron, at one point, we see Seoul. However, the subtitle that introduces where we are, simply states 'Seoul, Korea'. In real life, Seoul is in South Korea, but in the film, there's no 'South'. Does this mean that in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, North and South Korea have reunified? Was this one of the impacts of Stark's 'privatized world peace' in Iron Man 2? Or is it normal to refer to Seoul as being simply in Korea?

  • 6
    Is there a Seoul in North Korea that you think folks could confuse with the one in South Korea?
    – atk
    May 1, 2015 at 3:21
  • 15
    There's only one Korea, and Seoul is it's capitol. Or, there's only one Korea and Pyongyang is it's capitol. It depends on whether you're asking someone in the North or the South.
    – Joe L.
    May 1, 2015 at 3:48
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    @atk Is there a Seoul in any other country that you think folks could confuse with the one in South Korea, or is the ", Korea" bit of the description also superfluous?
    – Mike Scott
    May 1, 2015 at 5:03
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    Considering they also had a city in 'Africa', I think we're just lucky that they didn't go with 'Seoul, Asia' or something...
    – evilsoup
    May 1, 2015 at 10:23
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    @Chenmunka : I think it's safe to say that the WHOLE WORLD sees North Korea as a temporary annoyance. They're just more annoying for the South Koreans. To the south, the north is like that bad neighborhood you just don't want to go near. It's still part of the city you love, though.
    – Omegacron
    May 1, 2015 at 17:21

6 Answers 6


There is nothing there saying that the term "Korea" must be a specific, single country. It could designate as well the whole korean peninsula; covering both the north and the south.

Something similar happens with the name "United States of America". When someone says that he is going to the United States or to America, he's not saying that the country has officially changed its name to its shorter version. Likewise, the term "Americans" doesn't include the Canadians, the Mexicans or the Brazilians.

Unless something else in the movie specifically states that the North and the South have been reunited in a single country, you cannot draw this conclusion from only a subtitle.

  • I feel like, for South Korea at least, it's partly politically motivated as well. I've seen other instances of failure to acknowledge it as a country, but none worth posting as an answer. May 3, 2015 at 14:42
  • Yea, there is this possibility. However, I'm not sure if the productors of this movie are willing to get engaged in any kind of political controversy and I don't think that more people from South Corea will go to see this movie simply because the term "South" has been dropped from a sub-title. Personnally, I'm rather thinking that all they wanted to do what to designate the thing in the simplest way as possible.
    – SylvainL
    May 3, 2015 at 16:23
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    The U.S. parallel seems a bit wanting. If someone told you they were going to visit relatives in Dakota, would you not also find it a bit odd and wonder if they meant North Dakota or South Dakota? Jun 3, 2015 at 17:24
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: Not exactly the same. If someone told me that he was going to see the Mont Rushmore in Dakota, he doesn't really need to add that this is in the South Dakota. Futhermore, there is a distinction between saying something out loud and writing it in a subtitle. The question of the OP is specifically about writing 'Seoul, Korea' in a subtitle. This is quite different from talking to someone and just saying 'Korea'.
    – SylvainL
    Jun 4, 2015 at 4:18

I think the issue here is that the OP has confused the term country and state.

In the vast majority of cases, a country is a state, a unit of government.

However exceptions are all over the place. A counter point would be, London, England. According to your rules that is not allowed. I MUST call it London, United Kingdom or London, British Isles (which I don't think you could point to on a map).

Another point would be New York, New York. Although most Americans would not realise it, US States are semi autonomous states of government. Therefore, it is just as valid as New York, USA.

The point is that Korea is a country and there are two states on it, which are at a state of war.

The question is what formula is Marvel using, [city], [state] (like you think it should) or [city], [country].


It should be pointed out that the official name in English of the Country commonly referred to as "South Korea" is "The Republic of Korea". Both North and South Korea consider themselves the "real" Korea.

While it's possible the omitted "South" descriptor was done with a specific intention, without further data, there's nothing which points to what that reason was, or what, if anything it means for the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (probably not anything).


This is how I see it as a Korean from South Korea.

South Korea is actually not a nation, it's just a part of the Korean peninsula. The nation in charge of the whole Korean peninsula is the "Republic of Korea"- to which people refer often as South Korea. Their (South Korean) constitution claims that the Republic of Korea to be the only legitimate government of Korean penninsula. (대한민국 헌법 제3조)

There is another nation called "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" established by the North Koreans, but South Koreans don't consider that as a valid independent nation. Their government is acknowledged to be completely illegal from a South Korean point of view. They don't follow the world's rule. They go against the United Nations and our constitution no matter what.

So that's why South Koreans just call their country Korea, and call themselves Koreans. Not South Korea or South Korean.
That can also be the reason South Korean people feel strange when they get a question like, "Are you from North or South Korea". They would never have thought that way (like how people from outside Korea see it) before getting that question.

  • 1
    While interesting, I'm not certain how this really answers the question.
    – Edlothiad
    Aug 6, 2018 at 10:03
  • Do you think since the overseas market for a studio like Marvel can be a large portion of revenue that they intentionally did this so viewers in the Republic of Korea felt important/included? IIRC several other films (Transformers comes to mind) make changes to "appease" viewers in China, could this be a similar situation?
    – Skooba
    Aug 6, 2018 at 12:22
  • @Skooba It's a good point. But I think that no Koreans will not find it weird nor feel bad about it if they had "Seoul, South Korea" instead of "Seoul, Korea". It'd be fine. And when the film is distributed here it is shipped with languages translated in Korean so I think it shouldn't be a problem. I guess there may be another reason rather something like laws or politics.
    – Coconut
    Aug 6, 2018 at 13:00
  • @문동선: Well, I would assume that the extreme vast majority of (South) Koreans watching the film can read enough English that they know the difference between Korea and South Korea on screen. Unless it is specifically removed and replaced with Korean titles. Do they usually do this for Korean theatrical releases, or just dub/subtitle them? Aug 6, 2018 at 17:01

Here are two analogies: (1) In most parts of the world, when you simply say New York, it will be understood that you are talking about New York City and not some farmland in upstate New York. (2) In most parts of the US, when you simply say Jersey, it will be understood that you are talking about the Garden State New Jersey and not some far-off island in the English Channel.

When one says Korea without specifying either North or South, it is understood that you are talking about South Korea. The reason is that the South is much more well-known. For one, it is vastly more affluent. It is also much more populous.

But most importantly, North Korea is completely isolated. Outside of North Korea (and perhaps South Korea and the northeast of China), you will meet a thousand ethnic Koreans without ever meeting a single North Korean.

You can survey a thousand world travellers and none will ever have travelled around North Korea (although some will have gone on one of those Disneyland-style tours of Pyongyang that ordinary foreigners can sign up for).

And thus, when you say Korea in the context of everyday life (and you are not a historian, political scientist, diplomat, or something along those lines), you will never be referring to North Korea.

  • 2
    The State really should be called New Yorkshire to avoid that sort of confusion.
    – Gaius
    Jun 4, 2015 at 7:42

Sokovia is also a fictional country, so the assumption that Marvel uses real geography and can be accounted for that is fallacious.

For information: Marvel "Stuttgart" is actually a copy made in Cleveland.. Let's only say that there is no „Bolzstaraße“ (The ending is "straße"), the main train station looks like a cosy bus station, our police cars has the old green-white designation and US sirens.

  • 3
    It also uses real cities, and countries - so it's not unreasonable.
    – phantom42
    May 2, 2015 at 19:02
  • Yes, for immersion and scenery, but I think for nothing more. And fictional buildings with real counterparts in completely other locations. And presenting real cities and countries while filming in other cities and countries. You know, Television Geography and the infamous Mountains of Illinois. May 2, 2015 at 19:18
  • 1
    I think the scenario in Marvel and MCU is "It's the same except where we say it's different" rather than "It's different except where we say it's the same".
    – user31178
    Jun 3, 2015 at 21:02

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