Revised Romanization of Korean

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"Revised Romanization" redirects here. For other uses, see Revised Romanization of Hangeul.

The Revised Romanization of Korean (Korean: 국어의 로마자 표기법 Gugeoui Romaja Pyogibeop; literally "Roman-letter notation of the national language") is the official Korean language romanization system in South Korea proclaimed by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to replace 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 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, which cites these reasons for the new system:[1]

  • It promotes consistent romanization by native Korean speakers by the better transcription of important language characteristics.
  • It reduces the confusion caused by the 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의 로마 表記
Revised Romanization Gugeoui Romaja Pyogibeop
McCune–Reischauer Kugŏŭi Romaja P'yogipŏp

These are notable features of the Revised Romanization system:

  • and are written as digraphs, with two vowel letters, eo and eu, respectively (replacing the ŏ and ŭ of the McCune–Reischauer system).
    • However, is written as wo (not weo), and is written as ui (not eui).
  • 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 (basically all consonants except ㄴ, ㄹ, ㅁ, ㅇ not followed by a vowel or semivowel) are written as k, t, p, with no regard to their morphophonemic value: byeok, bak, 부엌bueok (but 벽에byeoge, 밖에bakke, 부엌에bueoke).
  • is always written as s before vowels and semivowels; there is no sh.
  • is r before a vowel or a semivowel and l everywhere else: 리을rieul, 철원Cheorwon, 울릉도Ulleungdo, 발해Balhae. Like in McCune-Reischauer, is written l whenever pronounced as a lateral rather than as a nasal consonant: 전라북도Jeollabuk-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: 가을ga-eul (fall; autumn) versus 개울gae-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: 없었습니다eops-eoss-seumnida, 외국어oegug-eo, 애오개Ae-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: 강홍립Gang Hongrip or Gang Hong-rip (not *Hongnip), 한복남Han Boknam or Han Bok-nam (not *Bongnam)
  • 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.


In Korea[edit]

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.[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 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[edit]

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.[3]

Transcription rules[edit]

Vowel letters[edit]

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

Consonant letters[edit]

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 h

, , , 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.[4]

Special provisions[edit]

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 HangukHangugeo. These significant changes occur:

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, 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: 정석민Jeong Seokmin or Jeong Seok-min, 최빛나Choe Bitna or Choe Bit-na.

Phonological changes are reflected where , , , and are adjacent to : 좋고joko, 놓다nota, 잡혀japhyeo, 낳지 → nachi. However, aspirated sounds are not reflected in case of nouns where follows , , and : 묵호Mukho, 집현전Jiphyeonjeon.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ministry of Culture & Tourism: The Revised Romanization of Korean". July 2000. Archived from the original on September 16, 2007. Retrieved May 9, 2007. 
  2. ^ 성씨 로마자 표기 방안: 마련을 위한 토론회 [Plan for romanisation of surnames: a preparatory discussion]. National Institute of the Korean Language. 25 June 2009. pp. 57–62. Retrieved 22 October 2015. 
  3. ^ 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 (ISBN 9780804838498. All accessed 2016-03-02.
  4. ^ a b "Romanization of Korean". The National Institute of the Korean Language. Retrieved March 18, 2015. 

External links[edit]