Revised Romanization of Korean

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The Revised Romanization of Korean (국어의 로마자 표기법; lit. Roman letter notation of national language) is the official Korean language romanization system in South Korea proclaimed by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, replacing the older McCune–Reischauer system. The new system eliminates diacritics in favour of digraphs and adheres more closely to Korean phonology than to a suggestive rendition of Korean phonetics for non-native speakers.

The Revised Romanization limits itself to only 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 July 7, 2000, by South Korea's Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Proclamation No. 2000-8. The proclamation cites the following reasons for the new system:[1]

  • It promotes consistent romanization by native Korean speakers by better transcribing important language characteristics.
  • It reduces the confusion caused by frequent omission of apostrophes and diacritics.
  • It rationalizes the Korean language with the plain ASCII text of internet domain names.


Revised Romanization of Korean
Hangul 국어 로마자 표기
Hanja 國語로마字 表記
Revised Romanization Gugeoui Romaja Pyogibeop
McCune–Reischauer Kugŏŭi Romaja P'yogipŏp

Notable features of the Revised Romanization system are as follows:

  • 어 and 으 are written as digraphs with two vowel letters: eo and eu, respectively (replacing the ŏ and ŭ of the McCune–Reischauer system).
    • However, ㅝ is written as wo and ㅢ is written as ui.
  • Unlike McCune–Reischauer, aspirated consonants (ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ, ㅊ) have no apostrophe: k, t, p, ch. Their unaspirated counterparts (ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅈ) are written with letters that are voiced in English: g, d, b, j. However, all consonants that are pronounced as unreleased stops (which basically means all except ㄴ, ㄹ, ㅁ, ㅇ that are not followed by a vowel or semivowel) are written as k, t, p, with no regard to their morphophonemic value: 벽 → byeok, 밖 → bak, 부엌 → bueok (But: 벽에 → byeoge, 밖에 → bakke, 부엌에 → bueoke)
  • ㅅ is always written as s before vowels and semivowels; there is no sh.
  • ㄹ is r before a vowel or a semivowel, and l everywhere else: 리을 → rieul, 철원 → Cheorwon, 울릉도 → Ulleungdo, 발해 → Balhae. Just like in McCune-Reischauer, ㄴ is written l whenever pronounced as a lateral rather than as a nasal consonant: 전라북도 → Jeollabuk-do

In addition, it contains special provisions for regular phonological rules that makes exceptions to transliteration (see Korean phonology).

Other rules and recommendations include the following:

  • A hyphen may optionally disambiguate syllables: 가을 → ga-eul (fall; autumn) versus 개울 → 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, where it denotes syllable-initial ㅇ (except at the beginning of a word): 없었습니다 → eops-eoss-seumnida, 외국어 → oegug-eo, 애오개 → 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, to better disambiguate between names: 강홍립 → Gang Hongrip or Gang Hong-rip, 한복남 → Han Boknam or Han Bok-nam
  • Administrative units (such as the do) are hyphenated from the placename proper: 강원도 → Gangwon-do
    • One may omit terms “such as 시, 군, 읍”: 평창군 → Pyeongchang-gun or Pyeongchang, 평창읍 → Pyeongchang-eup or Pyeongchang.
  • However, names for geographic features and artificial structures are not hyphenated: 설악산 → Seoraksan, 해인사 → Haeinsa
  • Capitalize proper nouns.


Similarly to 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 during the year 2007, for each of the three most common surnames Kim (김), Lee (이), and Park (박), fewer than 2% of applicants asked that their surname be romanized in their passport using the respective Revised Romanization spelling Gim, I, or Bak.[2] 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, citing its flaws, though all later gave in to government pressure. The Korea Times was the last major English-language newspaper to do so—it switched in May 2006 to the Revised Romanization.

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

Transcription rules

Vowel letters

Romanization a ae ya yae eo e yeo ye o wa wae oe yo u wo we wi yu eu ui i
Reading ah e ya ye uh e yuh ye o wa we we yo u wuh we wi yu eu eui i

Consonant letters

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 t l m p - t t ng t - t k t p h
Read g (in name: k) k n d t r (before) / l (followed) m b (in name: b / p) p s s ng j j c k t p h

ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, and ㄹ 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.[3]

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, for example HangukHangug-eo. The significant changes are highlighted:

next initial →
previous ending ↓ 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
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: 정석민 → Jeong Seokmin or Jeong Seok-min, 최빛나 → Choe Bitna or Choe Bit-na.

Phonological changes are reflected where ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, and ㅈ are adjacent to ㅎ: 좋고 → joko, 놓다 → nota, 잡혀 → japhyeo, 낳지 → nachi. However, aspirated sounds are not reflected in case of nouns where ㅎ follows ㄱ, ㄷ, and ㅂ: 묵호 → Mukho, 집현전 → Jiphyeonjeon.[3]

See also


  1. "Ministry of Culture & Tourism: The Revised Romanization of Korean". July 2000. Archived from the original on September 16, 2007. Retrieved May 9, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 성씨 로마자 표기 방안: 마련을 위한 토론회. National Institute of the Korean Language. 25 June 2009. pp. 57–62. Retrieved 22 October 2015. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Romanization of Korean". The National Institute of the Korean Language. Retrieved March 18, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

pl:Metody latynizacji języka koreańskiego