ㅂ is one of those Korean letters that is halfway between the sound of two English letters, in this case B and P. This means you will see 밥 Romanized in all kinds of ways: bab, bap, bob, bop and pap. Although Google translator audio pronounces this word as bap (rhymes with rap), everywhere else it sounds like bop (rhymes with top).
You will notice this is another case of transformation, where the very same letter is pronounced two different ways in the same syllable because of its position (more B-like at the beginning, but more P-like at the end). You can find this on the consonant transformations chart I mentioned in 우리 last post.
Not surprisingly, since a traditional Korean diet can include rice at every meal, 밥 turns up in the name of many Korean dishes, such as bibimbap (rice with vegetables, egg, and maybe beef) and kimbap (Korean sushi), to name but a few. 밥 is usually Romanized as “bap” in these food names, so I’m reluctantly sticking with that spelling, even though “bop” is more accurate and less ambiguous.
밥 Rice takes on a symbolic meaning representing food in general in some Korean phrases, much as we would use the word “bread” (daily bread, break bread, bread and roses, etc.). 밥 먹었어요 (literally “did you eat rice?”) is the Korean equivalent of “have you eaten?”
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