[KS] Re: WSJ article

Joshua Margolis jmargoli at nimbus.ocis.temple.edu
Tue Dec 14 11:05:58 EST 1999

I don't know how far they'll let one go with choosing the romanization of
one's own name in Korea, but I will throw in a piece of related information.
When a Korean immigrates to another country, they need to get a special
passport. In order to get the passport, they have to surrender their regular
passport, if they have one, as well as turn in their 'chumin tu^ngnok card.'
It doesn't even have to be immigration with intent to obtain citizenship.
Thus, in the case of the U.S., for example, it would apply even to life-long
green card holders who never give up their Korean citizenship. I always
thought that was a bit odd that they'd have separate passports like that,
though I can't say I'm familiar with the procedures in other countries.


> I believe that Korea is actually rather an exception in giving
> citizens much freedom in selecting the spelling of their own name on
> official documents.  Koreans do exploit this freedom---for instance,
> after getting a poor performance in an academic test such as the GRE,
> they will request a new passport with a differently spelled name to
> disconnect the test record from their application to school in the US.
> It is not quite clear to me how far the freedom actually goes.  Can a
> Korean with last name /Cho^ng/ request a passport issued on the name
> "Miller", explaining that it is pronounced /Cho^ng/?  I seem to
> remember having seen Korean passports of women married to foreigners
> where the woman carries the husband's last name.  This would be such a
> case, since the woman's name in Korean records has not changed at all.
> Does anybody have some reliable information on the government's rules
> in allowing personal names?


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