Revised Romanization of Korean
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Revised Romanization of Korean

The Revised Romanization of Korean ( ; ; gugeoui romaja pyogibeop. op; lit. "Roman-letter notation of the national language") is the official Korean language romanization system in South Korea proclaimed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to replace the older McCune-Reischauer system. The new system eliminates diacritics and apostrophes in favor of digraphs.

The Revised Romanization limits itself to the ISO basic Latin alphabet, apart from limited, often optional use of the hyphen. It was developed by the National Academy of the Korean Language from 1995 and was released to the public on 7 July 2000 by South Korea's Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Proclamation No. 2000-8, which cites these reasons for the new system:[1]

  • It reduces the confusion caused by the frequent omission of apostrophes and diacritics that plagued the McCune-Reischauer system.
  • It is compatible with the plain ASCII text of internet domain names.

Like McCune-Reischauer, it transcribes some sounds as English-speakers are apt to hear them, rather than following Korean phonology. Unlike McCune-Reischauer, vowels are not written consistently.


Revised Romanization of Korean
? ? ?
Revised Romanizationgugeoui romaja pyogibeop
McCune-Reischauerkugi romaja p'yogib?p

Basic principles of romanization are:[2]

  • Romanization is based on standard Korean pronunciation.
  • Symbols other than Roman letters are avoided to the greatest extent possible.

These are notable features of the Revised Romanization system:

  • Vowels ?/?/ and ?/?/ are written as digraphs, with two vowel letters, eo and eu, respectively (replacing the ? and ? of the McCune-Reischauer system).
    • However, ?/w?/ is written as wo (not weo), and ?/?i/ is written as ui (not eui).
  • Unlike McCune-Reischauer, aspirated consonants (?/k?/, ?/t?/, ?/p?/, ?/t/) have no apostrophe: k, t, p, ch. Their unaspirated counterparts (?/k/, ?/t/, ?/p/, ?/t?/) are written with letters that are voiced in English: g, d, b, j.
    • However, all of the consonants (except sonorants m, n, ng, and l) are written as k, t, p when followed by another consonant or when the consonant is in final position, as they are neutralized to unreleased stops: ?[pj?k?] -> byeok, ?[pak?] -> bak, [pu.?k?] -> bueok (but [pj?.?e?] -> byeoge, [pa.k?e?] -> bakke, [pu.?.k?e?] -> bueoke).
  • ?/s/ is written as s regardless of the following vowels and semivowels; there is no sh: ?[sa] -> sa, ?[?i] -> si.
    • When followed by another consonant or when in final position, it is written as t: ?[ot?] -> ot (but [] -> ose).
  • ?/l/ is r before a vowel or a semivowel and l everywhere else: [?i.?l] -> rieul, [t.?w?n] -> Cheorwon, [] -> Ulleungdo, [pal.] -> Balhae. Like in McCune-Reischauer, ?/n/ is written l whenever pronounced as a lateral rather than as a nasal consonant: ?[] -> Jeollabuk-do

In addition, special provisions are for regular phonological rules in exceptions to transliteration (see Korean phonology).

Other rules and recommendations include the following:

  • A hyphen optionally disambiguates syllables: -> ga-eul (fall; autumn) versus -> gae-ul (stream). However, few official publications make use of this provision since actual instances of ambiguity among names are rare.
    • A hyphen must be used in linguistic transliterations to denote syllable-initial ? except at the beginning of a word: -> eops-eoss-seumnida, -> oegug-eo, -> Ae-ogae
  • It is permitted to hyphenate syllables in the given name, following common practice. Certain phonological changes, ordinarily indicated in other contexts, are ignored in names, for better disambiguating between names: -> Gang Hongrip or Gang Hong-rip (not *Hongnip), -> Han Boknam or Han Bok-nam (not *Bongnam or "Bong-nam")
  • Administrative units (such as the do) are hyphenated from the placename proper: -> Gangwon-do
    • One may omit terms "such as ?, ?, ?": -> Pyeongchang-gun or Pyeongchang, -> Pyeongchang-eup or Pyeongchang.
  • However, names for geographic features and artificial structures are not hyphenated: -> Seoraksan, -> Haeinsa
  • Proper nouns are capitalized.


In Korea

Like several European languages that have undergone spelling simplifications (such as Portuguese, German or Swedish), the Revised Romanization is not expected to be adopted as the official romanization of Korean family names, and few people have voluntarily adopted it. According to a 2009 study by the National Institute of the Korean Language based on 63,351 applications for South Korean passports in 2007, for each of the three most common surnames Kim (?), Lee (?), and Park (?), less than 2% of applicants asked for their surname to be romanized in their passport by using the respective Revised Romanization spelling Gim, I, or Bak.[3] Given names and commercial names are encouraged to change, but it is not required.

All Korean textbooks were required to comply with the new system by February 28, 2002. English-language newspapers in South Korea initially resisted the new system by citing its flaws, but all later gave in to government pressure. The Korea Times was the last major English-language newspaper to do so and switched only in May 2006.

North Korea continues to use a version of the McCune-Reischauer system of Romanization, a different version of which was in official use in South Korea from 1984 to 2000.

Outside Korea

Textbooks and dictionaries intended for students of the Korean language tend to include this Romanization. However, some publishers have acknowledged the difficulties or confusion it can cause for non-native Korean speakers who are unused to the conventions of this style of Romanization.[4]

Transcription rules

Vowel letters

Hangul ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Romanization a ae ya yae eo e yeo ye o wa wae oe yo u wo we wi yu eu ui i

Consonant letters

Hangul ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Romanization Initial g kk n d tt r m b pp s ss - j jj ch k t p h
Final k k n t - l m p - t t ng t - t k t p t

?, ?, ?, and ? are usually transcribed as g, d, b, and r when appearing before a vowel, and as k, t, p, and l when followed by another consonant or when appearing at the end of a word.[2]

Special provisions

The revised romanization transcribes certain phonetic changes that occur with combinations of the ending consonant of a character and the initial consonant of the next like Hanguk -> Hangugeo. These significant changes occur (highlighted in yellow):

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
- g n d r m b s j ch k t p h
? k g kg ngn kd ngn ngm kb ks kj kch k-k kt kp kh, k
? n n n-g nn nd ll, nn nm nb ns nj nch nk nt np nh
? t d, j tg nn td nn nm tb ts tj tch tk t-t tp th, t, ch
? l r lg ll, nn ld ll lm lb ls lj lch lk lt lp lh
? m m mg mn md mn mm mb ms mj mch mk mt mp mh
? p b pg mn pd mn mm pb ps pj pch pk pt p-p ph, p
? t s tg nn td nn nm tb ts tj tch tk t-t tp th, t, ch
? ng ng- ngg ngn ngd ngn ngm ngb ngs ngj ngch ngk ngt ngp ngh
? t j tg nn td nn nm tb ts tj tch tk t-t tp th, t, ch
? t ch tg nn td nn nm tb ts tj tch tk t-t tp th, t, ch
? t t, ch tg nn td nn nm tb ts tj tch tk t-t tp th, t, ch
? t h k nn t nn nm p hs ch tch tk tt tp t

Phonetic changes between syllables in given names are not transcribed: -> Jeong Seokmin or Jeong Seok-min, -> Choe Bitna or Choe Bit-na.

Phonological changes are reflected where ?, ?, ?, and ? are adjacent to ?: -> joko, -> nota, -> japyeo, -> nachi. However, aspirated sounds are not reflected in case of nouns where ? follows ?, ?, and ?: -> Mukho, -> Jiphyeonjeon.[2]

See also


  1. ^ "Romanization of Korean". Ministry of Culture & Tourism. July 2000. Archived from the original on 16 September 2007. Retrieved 2007.
  2. ^ a b c "Romanization of Korean". National Institute of Korean Language. Retrieved 2016.
  3. ^ : [Plan for romanisation of surnames: a preparatory discussion]. National Institute of the Korean Language. 25 June 2009. pp. 57-62. Retrieved 2015.
  4. ^ Tuttle Publishing: "In addition, easy-to-use phonetic spellings of all Korean words and phrases are given. For example, "How are you?"--annyeonghaseyo? is also written as anh-nyawng-hah-seyo?", blurb for two Korean phrasebooks: Making Out in Korean ISBN 9780804843546 and More Making Out in Korean Archived 2016-03-06 at the Wayback Machine ISBN 9780804838498. All accessed 2016-03-02.

External links

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