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Revised Romanization of Korean

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Revised Romanization of Korean (국어의 로마자 표기법; Gugeoui romaja pyogibeop; lit. "Roman-letter notation of the national language") is the official Korean language romanization system in South Korea. 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.[1][2]

The new system addressed problems in the implementation of the McCune–Reischauer system, such as the phenomena where different consonants and vowels became indistinguishable in the absence of special symbols. To be specific, under the McCune–Reischauer system, the consonants (k), (t), (p) and (ch) and (k'), (t'), (p') and (ch') became indistinguishable when the apostrophe was removed. In addition, the vowels (ŏ) and (o), as well as (ŭ) and (u), became indistinguishable when the breve was removed. Especially in early internet use, where omission of apostrophes and breves is common, this caused confusion.[3]


Revised Romanization of Korean
Revised Romanizationgugeoui romaja pyogibeop
McCune–Reischauerkugŏŭi romacha p'yogipŏp

These are notable features of the Revised Romanization system:

  • The aspiration distinction between consonants is represented in a new way. The unaspirated consonants , , , and are represented as ⟨g⟩, ⟨d⟩, ⟨b⟩, and ⟨j⟩ respectively. The aspirated consonants , , , and are represented as ⟨k⟩, ⟨t⟩, ⟨p⟩, ⟨ch⟩. These letter pairs have a similar aspiration distinction in English at the beginning of a syllable (though they also have a voicing distinction unlike Korean); this approach is also used by Hanyu Pinyin. By contrast, the McCune–Reischauer system uses ⟨k⟩ ⟨t⟩ ⟨p⟩ ⟨ch⟩ both for the unaspirated and aspirated consonants, adding an apostrophe for the aspirated versions (⟨k'⟩ ⟨t'⟩ ⟨p'⟩ ⟨ch'⟩). (The McCune–Reischauer system also includes voicing, which the revised romanization does not.)
    • When placed in the final position, , , and are romanized as ⟨k⟩, ⟨t⟩, and ⟨p⟩ respectively, as they are neutralized to unreleased stops: [pjʌk̚]byeok, [pak̚]bak, 부엌 [pu.ʌk̚]bueok, 벽에 [pjʌ.ɡe]byeoge, 밖에 [pa.k͈e]bakke, 부엌에 [pu.ʌ.kʰe]bueoke, [ip̚]ip, 입에 [i.be]ibe.
  • Vowels and are written as ⟨eo⟩ and ⟨eu⟩ respectively, replacing the ⟨ŏ⟩ and ⟨ŭ⟩ of the McCune–Reischauer system.
    • However, /wʌ/ is written as ⟨wo⟩, not ⟨weo⟩, and /ɰi/ is written as ⟨ui⟩, not ⟨eui⟩.
  • ㅅ in the syllable-initial position is always written as ⟨s⟩. The McCune–Reischauer system used ⟨sh⟩ or ⟨s⟩ depending on context.
    • When followed by another consonant or when in the final position, it is written as ⟨t⟩: [ot̚]ot (but 옷에 [o.se]ose).
  • /l/ is ⟨r⟩ before a vowel or a semivowel and ⟨l⟩ everywhere else: 리을 [ɾi.ɯl]rieul, 철원 [tɕʰʌ.ɾwʌn]Cheorwon, 울릉도 [ul.lɯŋ.do]Ulleungdo, 발해 [paɾ.ɦɛ]Balhae. Like in McCune–Reischauer, /n/ is written ⟨l⟩ whenever pronounced as a lateral rather than as a nasal consonant: 전라북도 [tɕʌl.la.buk̚.t͈o]Jeollabuk-do
  • Phonological changes are reflected where , , and are adjacent to : 좋고joko, 놓다nota, 잡혀japyeo, 낳지 → nachi.
    • However, aspirated sounds are not reflected in case of nouns where follows , and : 묵호Mukho, 집현전Jiphyeonjeon.[4]

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

Other rules and recommendations include the following:

  • A hyphen optionally[5] disambiguates syllables: 가을ga-eul (fall; autumn) versus 개울gae-ul (stream). Official publications usually do not make use of this provision (and actual instances of ambiguity among names are rare).
    • However, a hyphen must be used in a linguistic transliteration (not transcription) to denote syllable-initial except at the beginning of a word: 없었습니다eobs-eoss-seubnida, 외국어oegug-eo
  • It is permitted to hyphenate syllables in a given name. Certain phonological changes, ordinarily indicated in other contexts, are ignored in names, for better disambiguating between names: 강홍립Gang Hongrip or Gang Hong-rip (not *Hongnip or Hong-nip), 한복남Han Boknam or Han Bok-nam (not *Bongnam or Bong-nam)
    • However, this does not guarantee perfect reversibility. For example, given names 빛나 and 샛별 are romanized as Bitna and Saetbyeol respectively – syllable-final consonants and both become t.
  • Administrative units (such as the do) are hyphenated from the placename proper: 강원도Gangwon-do
    • One may omit terms such as 시, 군, 읍: 평창군Pyeongchang-gun or Pyeongchang, 평창읍Pyeongchang-eup or Pyeongchang.
    • However, names for geographic features and artificial structures are not hyphenated: 설악산Seoraksan, 해인사Haeinsa
  • Proper nouns are capitalized.

Transcription rules[edit]


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


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

, , and are transcribed as g, d, b and r when placed at the beginning of a word or coming before a vowel, and as k, t, p and l when followed by another consonant or when appearing at the end of a word.[4]


In South Korea[edit]

The sign with the name of the railway station in Bucheon — at the top, a writing in hangul, the transcription in Latin script below using the Revised Romanization, along with the hanja text
The sign with the name of the railway station in Jecheon — at the top, a writing in hangul, the transcription in Latin script below using the Revised Romanization and the English translation of the word 'station', along with the hanja text

Almost all road signs, names of railway and subway stations on line maps and signs, etc. have been changed according to Revised Romanization of Korean (RR, also called South Korean or Ministry of Culture (MC) 2000). It is estimated to have cost at least 500 billion won to 600 billion won (US$500–600 million) to carry out this procedure.[6] All Korean textbooks, maps and signs to do with cultural heritage were required to comply with the new system by 28 February 2002. Romanization of surnames and existing companies' names has been left untouched because of the reasons explained below. However, the Korean government recommends using the revised romanization of Korean for the new names.


Like several European languages that have undergone spelling reforms (such as Portuguese, German, Polish or Swedish), the Revised Romanization is not expected to be adopted as the official romanization of Korean family names (example I, Bak, Gim, Choe instead of Lee, Park, Kim, Choi which are used commonly). However, South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recommends those who "newly" register their romanized names to follow the Revised Romanization of Korean.

In addition, 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Romanization of Korean". Korea.net. Ministry of Culture & Tourism. July 2000. Archived from the original on 16 September 2007. Retrieved 9 May 2007.
  2. ^ "한국어 어문 규범". kornorms.korean.go.kr. Retrieved 31 December 2022.
  3. ^ "로마자표기법" [Romanization]. m.terms.naver.com (in Korean). Doosan Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16 June 2024.
  4. ^ a b "Romanization of Korean". National Institute of Korean Language. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  5. ^ 김세중 (May 2001). "로마자 표기법의 이해 – 로마자 표기와 붙임표(-)" [Understanding the romanization system – Romanization and hyphen] (in Korean). New Korean News (새국어소식). 붙임표를 생략하면 한 로마자 표기가 두 가지로 발음될 수 있는데도 붙임표 사용을 강제하지 않은 데는 그만한 이유가 있다. 우선 붙임표는 대단히 눈에 거슬리는 기호라는 점이다. '강원'을 Gang-won으로 하기보다는 Gangwon으로 하는 것이 시각적으로 더 편안하다. 그러나 더 중요한 것은 표기와 발음은 완벽하게 일치하지 않는다는 사실이다. 어떤 언어든지 표기가 발음을 정확하게 반영하지는 않는다. 국어의 '말〔馬〕'은 모음이 짧고 '말〔言〕'은 모음이 길지만 똑같이 '말'로 적는다. 영어에서 lead(이끌다)는 발음이 [li:d]이고 lead(납)은 [led]이지만 표기는 같다. 로마자 표기라고 예외는 아니다. 로마자 표기로 발음을 완벽하게 보여 주어야 한다는 생각은 버려야 한다. Gangwon을 '간권'으로 발음하는 사람이 있다면 '강원'으로 바로잡아 주면 된다. 표기가 발음을 완벽하게 다 보여 주는 것은 아니며 발음은 어차피 따로 익혀야 할 부분이 있다. '아에'를 a-e로 쓰는 것을 허용하지만 ae로 쓰기를 더 권장한 까닭이 여기에 있다.
  6. ^ "2005년까지 연차적으로 도로표지판을 바꾸는 데 5000억~6000억원이 들고" (in Korean). Monthly Chosun. 1 September 2000. Retrieved 22 May 2019.

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