Home GRASP GRASP/Korea Always mangle Korean names? It might not be your fault

Always mangle Korean names? It might not be your fault

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NewsHubIn this Wednesday, Dec. 28 photo, a boy sits on a screen showing Korean traditional characters at the National Hangeul Museum in Seoul, South Korea. Impeached President Park Geun-hye’s surname is “Park,” right? Nope. In Korean it’s closer to “Bahk. ” Park’s allegedly corrupt confidante, Choi Soon-sil, pronounces her name more like “Chwey” than the way it’s rendered in English. There is a gulf, often a wide one, between the way Koreans write their names in English and the way they actually sound. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
(The Associated Press)
In this Wednesday, Dec. 28 photo, high school students take a selfie in front of a screen showing Korean traditional characters at the National Hangeul Museum in Seoul, South Korea. Impeached President Park Geun-hye’s surname is “Park,” right? Nope. In Korean it’s closer to “Bahk. ” Park’s allegedly corrupt confidante, Choi Soon-sil, pronounces her name more like “Chwey” than the way it’s rendered in English. There is a gulf, often a wide one, between the way Koreans write their names in English and the way they actually sound. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
(The Associated Press)
In this Thursday, Dec. 29 photo, a dual-language street sign written in Korean and English is displayed at a subway station in Seoul, South Korea. Impeached President Park Geun-hye’s surname is “Park,” right? Nope. In Korean it’s closer to “Bahk. ” Park’s allegedly corrupt confidante, Choi Soon-sil, pronounces her name more like “Chwey” than the way it’s rendered in English. There is a gulf, often a wide one, between the way Koreans write their names in English and the way they actually sound. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
(The Associated Press)
SEOUL, South Korea –   Impeached President Park Geun-hye’s surname is “Park,” right? Nope. In Korean it’s closer to “Bahk. ” Park’s allegedly corrupt confidante, Choi Soon-sil, pronounces her name more like “Chwey” than the way it’s rendered in English. And Samsung’s ailing chairman, Lee Kun-hee? That English “Lee” is more like “Yi” or “Ii” in Korean.
There is a gulf, often a wide one, between the way Koreans write their names in English and the way they actually sound.
Even the ubiquitous “Kim” — the moniker of beloved South Korean Olympic figure skating champion Yuna Kim and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un — belies: It’s pronounced “Ghim” in Korean.
While the flubs of foreigners who take the Romanized spellings literally cause smirks for the bilingual, the mispronunciations can also create confusion and embarrassment among visiting politicians, tourists and business people.
The disputed reasons behind the discrepancies are linked to a complex mix of history, American influence, herd mentality and individual quirks.

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