[KS] Romanisation

Kirk Larsen kwlarsen67 at gmail.com
Sat Apr 25 14:10:56 EDT 2009

It probably is worth noting that the almighty Wikipedia (the first and often
only source that all too many of my students consult) uses the RR system
(although entries often also list Mc-R romanization for some terms as well).
This fact alone may contribute more to the propagation and standardization
of the RR system's use than any debate among scholars.

I do, however, have one concern about wholesale adoption of the RR system:
is it appropriate to use this system when writing about North Korea?
Choosing the ROK-devised RR system to write about the DPRK (which has
developed its own system of romanization) seems to me to make a political
statement (albeit unintended in many cases) about the "true" Korea, the true
source of authority on Korea etc.


Kirk Larsen

2009/4/25 Brother Anthony <ansonjae at sogang.ac.kr>

> Romanization rears its head again! Like Werner, I have no problems with the
> current official Korean system, since no matter what you do, the result is a
> set of conventions, the exact pronunciation of which will have to be learned
> (e.g. 'u' tastes different in French and German and English) and that
> includes 'eo' (which I deplore but cannot find a convincing substitute for).
> It seems clear to me that nobody will ever get the 'ordinary Korean' to use
> letters with diacritics, it goes too deeply against the grain. But since no
> ordinary Korean is ever taught to use the official system, it is not
> surprising that there are as many variants as before.
> Just to warn against a false sense of security, I should report that I was
> phoned some weeks back by an official saying that the Government was aware
> of widespread dissatisfaction with the current system and asking would I be
> prepared to attend a consultation on a possible reform? I said yes, so have
> heard nothing more but we all know that in Korea, Nothing is Ever Settled
> Once and for All.
> Brother Anthony
> Sogang University, Seoul
> http://hompi.sogang.ac.kr/anthony/

Kirk W. Larsen
Department of History
2151 JFSB
Provo, UT 84602-6707
(801) 422-3445
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