[KS] Re: WSJ article

Leonid Petrov petrov at coombs.anu.edu.au
Wed Dec 15 05:26:55 EST 1999

S.Koreans do have an exceptional freedom in choosing their Romanised names
but only once, when they apply for passport for the first time. It must not
necessarily reflect their real names though... For example, one of my Korean
friends (a passionate admirer of anarchism) filled in his passport
application form as Park Leff Soon-yawl.

The Koreans in China also have been benefiting from the chaos in the PRC
passport system. Every time they have to go to N.Korea after S.Korea and
vice versa, they apply to for a new (business or private) type of passport
under a new, often just fake name.

The Russian passport system is less flexible. Traditionally, RF OVIRs and
Embassies use French in all official paperwork including passports for
foreign travel (every Russian citizen must also have a domestic passport
with PROPISKA). Therefore, many Korean names in Russian passports still look
like Tsoi, Tzyu, etc.

WWW: http://members.xoom.com/north_korea/index.html

----- Original Message -----
From: "Joshua Margolis" <jmargoli at nimbus.ocis.temple.edu>
To: <korean-studies at mailbase.ac.uk>
Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 1999 3:05 AM
Subject: Re: WSJ article

> 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
> 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
> passport, if they have one, as well as turn in their 'chumin tu^ngnok
> 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
> 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.
> Josh
> > 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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