Sunday, March 19, 2006

Answer to Question About Transliteration of Korean into English (submitted to CanKor #242)

North Korean publications consistently transliterate Korean names in the traditional way: three capitalized and unhyphenated parts, with the family name first (e.g. Kim Il Sung). South Korean and international media use a great variety of forms when transliterating North Korean names (e.g. Il-sung Kim, Kim Il-song, Kim Il-seong, Kim Il-sung, Il Song Kim), but rarely the traditional Korean way preferred in the DPRK. Why?

All North Korean publications including those in foreign languages are subject to strict guidelines and review as to content and form. This includes enforced standardization of the format for transliteration of names and standardized rendering of hangul into English equivalents. Whether or not this format is "traditional" is debatable, but it unquestioningly leads to consistency that is sorely lacking in transliteration of Korea names in the ROK and abroad. In this aspect of clarity of transliteration of names into English the DPRK's system has demonstrated objectively verifiable superior results.