1 Characteristics and criticism 2 Guide
2.1 Vowels 2.2 Consonants 2.3 Examples
2.3.1 Exceptions that do not exactly follow pronunciation
3 North Korean variant 4 South Korean variant 5 Other systems 6 See also 7 Footnotes 8 External links
Characteristics and criticism
Korean has phonologically no distinction between voiced and voiceless
consonants, but it phonetically distinguishes them. Aspirated
consonants like p', k', and t' are distinguished by apostrophe from
unaspirated ones, which may be falsely understood as a separator
between syllables (as in 뒤차기 → twich'agi, which consists of
the syllables twi, ch'a and gi). The apostrophe is also used to mark
transcriptions of ㄴㄱ (n'g) as opposed to ㅇㅇ (ng): 잔금 →
chan'gŭm vs. 장음 → changŭm).
Such common omissions were the primary reason the South Korean
government adopted a revised system of romanization in 2000. Critics
of the revised system claim it fails to represent 어 and 으 in a way
that is easily recognizable. Also, it misrepresents the unaspirated
consonants the way that they are actually pronounced.
Meanwhile, despite official adoption of the new system in South Korea,
many in the Korean Studies community, both inside and outside South
Korea and international geographic and cartographic conventions
generally continue to use either the
Hangul ㅏ ㅐ ㅑ ㅒ ㅓ ㅔ ㅕ ㅖ ㅗ ㅘ ㅙ ㅚ ㅛ ㅜ ㅝ ㅞ ㅟ ㅠ ㅡ ㅢ ㅣ
Romanization a ae ya yae ŏ e* yŏ ye o wa wae oe yo u wŏ we wi yu ŭ ŭi i
ㅔ is written as ë after ㅏ and ㅗ. This is to distinguish ㅐ (ae) from ㅏ에 (aë), and ㅚ (oe) and ㅗ에 (oë). The combinations ㅏ에 (aë) and ㅗ에 (oë) very rarely occur except in sentences when a noun is followed by a postposition, as, for example, 회사에서 hoesaësŏ (at a company) and 차고에 ch'agoë (in a garage). The Korean surnames 이/리(李) and 이(異) are transcribed as Yi not I (e.g. 이순신 as Yi Sunsin)
Hangul ㄱ ㄲ ㄴ ㄷ ㄸ ㄹ ㅁ ㅂ ㅃ ㅅ ㅆ ㅇ ㅈ ㅉ ㅊ ㅋ ㅌ ㅍ ㅎ
Romanization Initial k kk n t tt r m p pp s ss – ch tch ch' k' t' p' h
Final k k n t – l m p – t t ng t – t k t p –
The consonant digraphs (ㄳ, ㄵ, ㄶ, ㄺ, ㄻ, ㄼ, ㄽ, ㄾ, ㄿ, ㅀ, ㅄ) exist only as finals and are transcribed by their actual pronunciation.
Initial consonant of the next syllable
ㅇ1 ㄱ k ㄴ n ㄷ t ㄹ (r) ㅁ m ㅂ p ㅅ2 s ㅈ ch ㅊ ch' ㅋ k' ㅌ t' ㅍ p' ㅎ h
Final consonant ㄱ k g kk ngn kt ngn(S)/ngr(N) ngm kp ks kch kch' kk' kt' kp' kh
ㄴ n n n'g nn nd ll/nn nm nb ns nj nch' nk' nt' np' nh
ㄷ t d tk nn tt nn(S)/ll(N) nm tp ss tch tch' tk' tt' tp' th
ㄹ l r lg ll/nn ld3 ll lm lb ls lj3 lch' lk' lt' lp' rh
ㅁ m m mg mn md mn(S)/mr(N) mm mb ms mj mch' mk' mt' mp' mh
ㅂ p b pk mn pt mn(S)/mr(N) mm pp ps pch pch' pk' pt' pp' ph
ㅇ ng ng ngg ngn ngd ngn(S)/ngr(N) ngm ngb ngs ngj ngch' ngk' ngt' ngp' ngh
ㅇ is an initial consonant before a vowel to indicate the absence of sound. 쉬 is romanized shwi. In Sino-Korean words, lt and lch respectively.
For ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, and ㅈ, the letters g, d, b, or j are used if voiced, k, t, p, or ch otherwise. Pronunciations such as those take precedence over the rules in the table above. Examples
가구 kagu 등대 tŭngdae 반복 panbok 주장 chujang
The initial consonant ㅇ is disregarded in romanization, since it is only used in order to indicate the absence of sound.
국어 (pronounced 구거) kugŏ (not kukŏ) 믿음 (pronounced 미듬) midŭm (not mitŭm) 법인 (pronounced 버빈) pŏbin (not pŏpin) 필요 (pronounced 피료) p'iryo (not p'ilyo)
r vs. l
Between two vowels: 가로 karo, 필요 p'iryo Before initial ㅎ h: 발해 Parhae, 실험 sirhŏm
Before a consonant (except before initial ㅎ h), or at the end of a word: 날개 nalgae, 구별 kubyŏl, 결말 kyŏlmal ㄹㄹ is written ll: 빨리 ppalli, 저절로 chŏjŏllo
연락 (pronounced 열락) yŏllak 독립 (pronounced 동닙) tongnip 법률 (pronounced 범뉼) pŏmnyul 않다 (pronounced 안타) ant'a 맞히다 (pronounced 마치다) mach'ida
미닫이 (pronounced 미다지) midaji 같이 (pronounced 가치) kach'i 굳히다 (pronounced 구치다) kuch'ida
Exceptions that do not exactly follow pronunciation
The sequences -ㄱㅎ-, -ㄷㅎ- (only when palatalization does not occur)/-ㅅㅎ-, -ㅂㅎ- are written kh, th, ph respectively, even though they are pronounced the same as ㅋ (k'), ㅌ (t'), ㅍ (p').
속히 sokhi (pronounced 소키) 못하다 mothada (pronounced 모타다) 곱하기 kophagi (pronounced 고파기)
When a plain consonant (ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅅ, or ㅈ) becomes a tensed consonant (ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ, or ㅉ) in the middle of a word, it is written k, t, p, s, or ch respectively, even though it is pronounced the same as ㄲ (kk), ㄸ (tt), ㅃ (pp), ㅆ (ss), or ㅉ (tch).
태권도 (pronounced 태꿘도) t'aekwŏndo 손등 (pronounced 손뜽) sontŭng 문법 (pronounced 문뻡) munpŏp 국수 (pronounced 국쑤) kuksu 한자 (漢字, pronounced 한짜) hancha
North Korean variant In North Korea's variant of McCune–Reischauer, aspirated consonants are not represented by an apostrophe but are instead by adding an "h". For example, 평성 is written as Phyŏngsŏng. The original system would have it written as P'yŏngsŏng. However, the consonant ㅊ is transcripted as "ch", and not "chh", while ㅈ is transcripted as "j". For example, 주체 is spelled "Juche", and not "Chuch'e", as it would be transcripted using the original system.
ㅉ is written as "jj" (for example, 쪽발이 is spelled as "jjokpari").
ㄹㄹ is transcripted as "lr". Example: 빨리 is spelled "ppalri".
ㄹㅎ is spelled "lh", and not "rh": e.g. 발해 is written as "palhae".
When ㄹ is pronounced as ㄴ (e.g. 목란), it is transcripted as "n" by the original system (Mongnan). Nevertheless, the North Korean variant keeps it as "r" (Mongran).
ㅇㅇ and ㄴㄱ are differentiated by using a "-". For example: 강인 is spelled "kang-in", and 인기 is spelled "in-gi".
When "ng" is followed by "y" or "w", however, the hyphen is not used (평양 and 강원 are written as "Phyŏngyang" and "Kangwŏn").
The North Korean variant renders names of people with each syllable
capitalized and no hyphenation between syllables of given names: e.g.
"Kim Il Sung" for Kim Il-sung. Native Korean names, however, are
written without syllabic division: e.g. 김한별 is spelled "Kim
South Korean variant
A variant of
시 was written as shi instead of the original system's si. When ㅅ is followed by ㅣ, it is realized as the [ɕ] sound (similar to the English [ʃ] sound (sh as in show)) instead of the normal [s] sound. The original system deploys sh only in the combination 쉬, as shwi. ㅝ was written as wo instead of the original system's wŏ in this variant. Because the diphthong w (ㅗ or ㅜ as a semivowel) + o (ㅗ) does not exist in Korean phonology, the South Korean government omitted a breve in wŏ. Hyphens were used to distinguish between ㄴㄱ and ㅇㅇ, between ㅏ에 and ㅐ, and between ㅗ에 and ㅚ in this variant system, instead of the apostrophes and ë in the original version. Therefore, apostrophes were used only for aspiration marks and ë was not used in the South Korean system. When ㄹ is followed by ㅎ, the ㄹ was written as l in the South Korean variant. Under the original McCune-Reischauer system, it is written as r. Assimilation-induced aspiration by an initial ㅎ is indicated. ㄱㅎ is written as kh in the original McCune-Reischauer system and as k' in the South Korean variant.
The following table illustrates the differences above.
Word McCune–Reischauer South Korean variant Meaning
시장 sijang shijang market
쉽다 shwipta swipta easy
소원 sowŏn sowon wish, hope
전기 chŏn'gi chŏn-gi electricity
상어 sangŏ sang-ŏ shark
회사에서 hoesaësŏ hoesa-esŏ at a company
차고에 ch'agoë ch'ago-e in a garage
발해 Parhae Palhae Balhae
직할시 chikhalsi chik'alshi directly governed city
못하다 mothada mot'ada to be poor at
곱하기 kophagi kop'agi multiplication
A third system, the Yale
Hangul New Korean Orthography List of Korea-related topics
^ https://www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/romanization/korean.pdf page 13
^ Sweeney, John (2013).
A Practical Guide to