[KS] dropping McCune-Reischauer for 20th/21st c. personal names

Mark Peterson Mark_Peterson at byu.edu
Thu Dec 13 20:18:51 EST 2001

Dear Korean Studies friends,

I think there is more agreement than disagreement in what Frank and 
Gari have been saying, and it brings me to one of my pet sidelights 
when it comes to the issue of romanization of names.

In the government's system, the USG -- as they call themselves -- 
they use a modified Mc-R system, but to be sure they can trace back a 
name, they don't observe any sound changes.  Kim Yo^ng-ni is written 
Kim Yo^k-ri, etc.

Well, in their system then the current President is Kim Tae Chung, 
which is really silly (now, there is silliness).  Everone in the 
world knows Kim Dae Jung, but not the USG!  For example, they may 
write that the head of the DJ faction is Kim Tae Chung.  Or they 
might translate something that says a person used the term "DJ" 
referring to the President, and then clarify it by saying DJ refers 
to Kim Tae Chung.  Or they might talk about the JP faction, headed by 
Kim Chong Pil.

For me, the solution has been what I call the "New York Times factor" 
-- that is, if their name is published in the New York Times with the 
idiosyncratic spelling, then there is a precedent!  And as Mike 
Robinson just said, when one is published under the idiosyncratic 
spelling, there is a basis for using that spelling.  And as Prof. Yuh 
suggested, putting the Mc-R in parens after the first appearance is 
also helpful.

But as for the USG, I suppose its still Yi Su^ng Man, whoever that was??!!

Blind adherence to romanization rules in the case of names creates 
more problems than it solves.

best regards,

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