Revised Romanization of Korean

The Revised Romanization of Korean (국어의 로마자 표기법; 國語의 로마字 表記法; 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.

Features

Revised Romanization of Korean
Hangul
Hanja
Revised Romanizationgugeoui romaja pyogibeop
McCune–Reischauerkugŏŭi romaja p'yogibŏp

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 /ʌ/ and /ɯ/ are written as digraphs, with two vowel letters, 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).
  • Unlike McCune–Reischauer, aspirated consonants (/kʰ/, /tʰ/, /pʰ/, /tɕʰ/) have no apostrophe: k, t, p, ch. Their unaspirated counterparts (/k/, /t/, /p/, /tɕ/) 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: [pjʌk̚]byeok, [pak̚]bak, 부엌[pu.ʌk̚]bueok (but 벽에[pjʌ.ɡe̞]byeoge, 밖에[pa.k͈e̞]bakke, 부엌에[pu.ʌ.kʰe̞]bueoke).
  • /s/ is written as s regardless of the following vowels and semivowels; there is no sh: [sa]sa, [ɕi]si.
    • When followed by another consonant or when in final position, it is written as t: [ot̚]ot (but 옷에[o.se̞]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[pal.ɦɛ̝]Balhae. Like in McCune–Reischauer, /n/ is written l whenever pronounced as a lateral rather than as a nasal consonant: 전라북도[tɕʌl.la.buk̚.do]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: 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 or "Bong-nam")
  • 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.
Other Languages
Tiếng Việt: Romaja quốc ngữ