Press "Enter" to skip to content

Loanword Transcription Rules

In South Korea, the transcription of terms or names from other languages into hangul (the Korean alphabet) are governed by the Loanword Transcription Rules (외래어 표기법 外來語表記法 Oeraeeo Pyogibeop), which were introduced on 7 January 1986 by the former Ministry of Culture and Education (문교부 文敎部 Mun’gyobu). These included rules for transcribing English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese into hangul.

Over the next two decades, the Loanword Transcription Rules were expanded to include additional languages. In 1992, rules were added for Polish, Czech, Serbo-Croatian, Romanian, and Hungarian. In 1995 came rules for Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish, in 2004 for Malay/Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese, and finally in 2005 for Portuguese, Dutch, and Russian.

If you are looking for more detailed information, you can read the more in-depth Examination of the Loanword Transcription Rules, including a history of transcription into Korean, Korean phonology and alphabet, and how different sounds are transcribed.

In addition to these official rules, there are also unofficial guidelines for transcribing other languages not covered. The introduction of the Loanword Transcription Rules in 1986 was followed in the same year by the publication of Loanword Transcription Examples (외래어 표기 용례집 外來語表記用例集 Oeraeeo Pyogi Yongnyejip), which included some additional principles used for transcribing English and German as well as Latin, Greek, and Russian (the last of which would be superseded in 2005 by the introduction of rules for Russian) along with other languages not covered by the rules. While the Transcription Principles of Loanword Transcription Examples are not part of the official Loanword Transcription Rules, and parts of them have been superseded by the subsequent addition to the Loanword Transcription Rules, they nevertheless continue to be taken into consideration (with some modifications) in deciding standard transcriptions, so they are also included here.

These pages contain unofficial translations of these rules, grouped together by language to make it more user-friendly. This departs from the original structure of the rules, which has the transcription tables for all languages grouped together under chapter II and the detailed transcription rules for all languages under chapter III. Links to the relevant original Loanword Transcription Rules in Korean on the National Institute of the Korean Language website are provided on each page. The Transcription Principles of Loanword Transcription Examples were also formerly included in the National Institute of the Korean website, but they seem to have been removed in a recent update; links are provided instead to the mirrors of these rules on the website for Gyeoremal-keunsajeon (겨레말 큰사전), a Korean dictionary.

The original structure of the rules is provided below for reference. For ease of reference, the chapter numbers are given in Roman numerals and the section numbers in Arabic numerals, although in the original both are given in Arabic numerals. The first five chapters of Transcription Principles of Loanword Transcription Examples consist of explanatory notes specific to the work that it was prepared for, so only chapters VI-X that deal with hangul transcription are shown.


Loanword Transcription Rules

  1. Basic principles of transcription
  2. Transcription tables
    1. Comparison table of IPA and hangul
    2. Comparison table of Spanish letters and hangul
    3. Comparison table of Italian letters and hangul
    4. Comparison table of Japanese kana and hangul
    5. Comparison table of Chinese zhuyin symbols and hangul
    6. Comparison table of Polish letters and hangul
    7. Comparison table of Czech letters and hangul
    8. Comparison table of Serbo-Croatian letters and hangul
    9. Comparison table of Romanian letters and hangul
    10. Comparison table of Hungarian letters and hangul
    11. Comparison table of Swedish letters and hangul
    12. Comparison table of Norwegian letters and hangul
    13. Comparison table of Danish letters and hangul
    14. Comparison table of Malay/Indonesian letters and hangul
    15. Comparison table of Thai letters and hangul
    16. Comparison table of Vietnamese letters and hangul
    17. Comparison table of Portuguese letters and hangul
    18. Comparison table of Dutch letters and hangul
    19. Comparison table of Russian letters and hangul
  3. Detailed transcription rules
    1. Transcription of English
    2. Transcription of German
    3. Transcription of French
    4. Transcription of Spanish
    5. Transcription of Italian
    6. Transcription of Japanese
    7. Transcription of Chinese
    8. Transcription of Polish
    9. Transcription of Czech
    10. Transcription of Serbo-Croatian
    11. Transcription of Romanian
    12. Transcription of Hungarian
    13. Transcription of Swedish
    14. Transcription of Norwegian
    15. Transcription of Danish
    16. Transcription of Malay/Indonesian
    17. Transcription of Thai
    18. Transcription of Vietnamese
    19. Transcription of Portuguese
    20. Transcription of Dutch
    21. Transcription of Russian
  4. Principles for transcribing the names of people and places
    1. Principles of transcription
    2. Transcribing names of East Asian people and places
    3. Detailed rules for transcribing seas, islands, rivers, mountains, etc.

Transcription Principles of Loanword Transcription Examples

  1. Principles of transcription (English, German)
  2. General principles for transcribing other languages
  3. Principles for transcribing Latin
  4. Principles for transcribing Greek
  5. Principles for transcribing Russian (superseded)

Loanword Transcription Rules | Examination | Principles | English, German, French | Spanish | Italian | Japanese | Chinese | Polish | Czech | Serbo-Croatian | Romanian | Hungarian | Swedish | Norwegian | Danish | Malay/Indonesian | Thai | Vietnamese | Portuguese | Dutch | Russian | Other languages, Latin, Greek