Standard Romanization for Korean Names Planned

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Presidential Council on National Competitiveness on Wednesday discussed plans to make the Korean language more accessible worldwide, including working out a Romanization standard for family names, compiling a new Hangeul dictionary with about 1 million entries, and building a Hangeul cultural center.

The government will come up with standard Romanization for family names this year that will become mandatory for people when they apply for new passports and for government offices that use both Hangeul and English on official documents such as birth records and residence registration cards.

An earlier Romanization project for family names was suspended in 2000 due to controversy over exceptions. The new standard will cost a huge amount of money as the Romanized names of businesses, schools and individuals as well as road signs will have to be changed.

A new Hangeul dictionary is to be compiled by 2012, adding a large number of words to the last official dictionary published in 1999, which has about 500,000 entries, and adding easy sample sentences.

Experts have said that the younger generation have trouble understanding the conventional dictionary, as there are too many difficult Chinese characters in explanations and definitions.

The government also plans to compile a multilingual web dictionary comprising about 20 different foreign language sections -- such as Vietnamese-Hangeul and Thai-Hangeul --  to help foreigners and Korean nationals overseas.

A Hangeul cultural center, to be built at a cost of W35.2 billion (US$1=W1,282) by 2012, is to give visitors hands-on experience of the Korean language.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jun. 25, 2009 12:16 KST