[KS] Romanisation

Eugene Y. Park eugene.y.park at uci.edu
Fri Apr 24 23:01:42 EDT 2009

Dear all,

I cannot agree more with Werner Sasse. For sure, the South Korean
government could have done more to educate everyone (especially its own
citizens) on proper, consistant usage of MR system rather than spending so
much money on coming up with a new one that seems neither more "logical"
or ready to be used more widely among Koreans. All the same, frankly I
just would like to see that one system will prevail not too far in the

On a related note, I also want to point out that continuing general lack
of awareness of a Korean romanization system among those outside the
academe deserves a serious discussion. Advent of the internet has
facilitated expansion of Korea-related knowledge base online, but for an
ordinary person or someone outside Korean Studies, doing a simple key word
search on, say, Yi Sun-sin, remains tricky. Chances are, neither the
person doing the search nor the one uploading any information on the
admiral follows or is even aware of a standard romanization system--unless
(s)he is in the academe. Especially to an avid genealogist like myself,
it's frustratinig to see Korea "missing out" in the sense that
accumulating online genealogical and genealogy-related DNA haplotype
databases are almost useless for Korean names spelled according to
individual preferences.

Gene Park

On Fri, 4 24, 2009 17:46, Werner Sasse wrote:
> Dear Members of the List,
> Sorry, to raise the question of romanisation again...
> I still vividly remember the heated discussions at AKSE meetings after the
> "new"system came out. And some of you may remember that I was one of those
> who strongly advocated to continue to use the McR system for various
> reasons, some linguistic, some practical.
> However, I have started to stop using McR, and now would advocate we
> follow the current system. The only reason is that it actually seems to
> become the standard through continuous use, no matter how ridiculous it
> makes Korean look like. (Remember how the Chinese were able to make
> everyone switch from the much better older system to the current system -
> which I find even more ridiculously looking than the official Korean
> romanisation system -, simply by stubbornly insisting of using it.
> Writing system after all are arbitrary (I always rejoyce at listening to
> foreigners pronouncing German names etc., although we use the same
> alphabet....). Being arbitrary, the only important aspect is that is used
> continuously, and peope have to learn how to pronounce the same graph in
> the respective languages.
> "Standard" is a long way from "good or bad, "correct", or "nice
> looking"....
> If you can't lick'em, join'em...
> Best, Werner Sasse
>> Date: Wed, 22 Apr 2009 15:25:39 +0100
>> From: j.h.grayson at sheffield.ac.uk
>> To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>> Subject: Re: [KS] Pictopedia of Everyday Life in East Asia (Joseon
>> Period)
>> 22.4.09
>> Dear Prof. Kim,
>> Thank you for your email and the report on your important research.
>> I am only sorry to say that I was disappointed to note that you have
>> not used the scholarly system of Romanisation, the so-called MR system
>> which was devised by the three leading Korean phoneticians of the
>> early twentieth century. The current government system is inaccurate
>> and leads to mispronunication. I would hope that you would not use
>> this system in the future as it creates confusion for people who do
>> not speak Korean.
>> Thank you for informing us of this valuable resource. If there are any
>> copies available, the East Asian Studies Library at The University of
>> Sheffield would be pleased to receive a copy.
>> Yours sincerely,
>> James H. Grayson
>> --
>> Prof. James H. Grayson
>> School of East Asian Studies
>> University of Sheffield
>> Sheffield S10 2TN
>> United Kingdom
>> Tel. +44 114 222-8418
>> Fax +44 114 222-8432
>> email: j.h.grayson at sheffield.ac.uk
> _________________________________________________________________
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> http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowslive/

Eugene (Gene) Y. Park
Associate Professor
Department of History
Krieger Hall 200
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697
Tel. (949) 824-6521
Fax. (949) 824-2865

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