Korean naming conventions Viki VS Netflix

My question is regarding the way Netflix (USA) writes out names compared to the way Viki does. Netflix puts a hyphen in the first name where as Viki does not.
For example Cha Eun Woo is written as Cha Eun-woo on Netflix…also when the third name is OH they drop the h.
Why do they do that?


As you probably know already, Korean uses a different alphabet than we do, hangul. How to romanize (i.e. transliterate into latin characters) has been debated. When Western countries were colonizers, either direct or indirect, they transliterated all names according to their own pronounciation. For instance they called the Indian garment “saree”, because that’s the closest pronounciation for an English-speaking person. Whereas for a French, Italian or German person, the two E s don’t sound like this at all. Nowadays everyone writes “sari”.
Same in Korea. The very well known Korean surname, Lee, is an effort to render what today would be transcribed as I or maybe Yi, as there is no L at all in front of the vowel.
At some point, a system was made, which tried to take into account the real pronounciation and used lots of little symbols called diacritics. These were useful for scholars, but of course no normal person could type that!
Aaaanyway, in 2000 there has been something called Revised Romanization, which tried to rationalize all this. You can read about it here.
It’s a pretty good system, if not perfect, because it takes into account only the actual characters written, and not their pronounciation (for instance, the fact that b at the beginning of the word is pronounced “p” and g aat the beginning of the word is pronounced “k”)
There are many rules, but the government said that, regarding names, people were free to keep the way they had been writing their names before if they wished.
That’s why you still see Lee and Park instead of I and Bak. Especially for passports, if one already had a passport and had travelled abroad, it would be very difficult to change the spelling of his name, although the government encourages new passport holders to adopt the new system.
Names made only of one vowel have the risk of being confused for a typo or ignored, in writing. That’s why some people add an H or something, to make them at least two words. The surname O is also written Oh. And, still, they are slaves to the English language. For instance the surname An is written Ahn, to help an English person pronounce it easily (and not like the indefinite article “an”)
In conclusion, there is not a right and wrong way for names. If you go to Viki’s pages for celebrities, you will see two or three versions of the person’s name!

As for hyphens… In the linked Wikipedia article it says:
It is permitted to hyphenate syllables in the given name, following common practice.

Yes, the hyphened version makes sense, because the name becomes more unique, easier to remember and it’s clearer for foreigners which part is the name and which part is the surname.
On Viki, a long time ago, volunteers made a poll and agreed to not use the hyphen, because they were too lazy to type it. Or at least that’s the reason I was given, because that happened before I came here.

So there. You learned probably more than you wanted to know.


Thanks! That was very helpful.

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Guilty as charged. I am the one who polled all the Korean subbers I then knew back in 2010 about whether to use hyphens or not. What I did was look at the romanized names for authors of books and articles for Korean authors to see what was being used by real people (not celebrities, not from the name being used in the press by a newspaper or magazine reporter). I reasoned if a Korean person wrote an article or a book, she would have the name spelled the way she wanted to do it. From there I gathered the three major ways Koreans romanized their names. I then gave three choices to the people polled: Suppose the name was Kim Ji Min - I gave the following options for 김지민:
Kim Ji-MIn, Kim Jimin and Kim Ji Min. (Note – a few subbers were subbing Kim JiMin (no space, no hyphen) but a capitalized letter in the middle of a given name – I didn’t find any authors who did that). The majority of the survey respondents chose Kim Ji Min. And although a reason wasn’t asked for, some volunteered that it was faster than typing the -. And today, I do notice that the hyphen is used less and less among Korean acquaintances and in the names of authors of scholarly articles. I then made that standard on the channels for which I was Chief Editor and over time it became the custom at viki.
Regarding a single vowel as part of a proper name – such as 이, 아. 오, 우, etc. I think a few years ago someone surveyed the Romanization of names on Korean passports and found that very very few people who had a single vowel syllable as part of their name, just used a single vowel in Romanization.


For your information, here are the official rules for names, from the National Institute of Korean Language:

(3) The first letter is capitalized in proper names.

The first letter is capitalized in proper names.
부산 Busan 세종 Sejong

(4) Personal names are written by family name first, followed by a space and the given name.

As a rule, syllables in given names are not separated by hyphen, but it is admitted to use a hyphen between syllables.

민용하 Min Yongha (Min Yong-ha) 송나리 Song Nari (Song Na-ri)

Assimilated sound changes between syllables in given names are not transcribed.

한복남 Han Boknam (Han Bok-nam) 홍빛나 Hong Bitna (Hong Bit-na)

Transcriptions of family names will be established additionally.

(5) Administrative units

Administrative units such as 도, 시, 군, 구, 읍, 면, 리, 동, and 가 are transcribed respectively as do, si, gun, gu, eup, myeon, ri, dong, and ga, and are preceded by a hyphen. Assimilated sound changes before and after the hyphen are not transcribed.

양주군 Yangju-gun
인왕리 Inwang-ri
당산동 Dangsan-dong

(6) Names of geographic features, cultural properties, and man-made structures may be written without hyphens.

남산 Namsan
금강 Geumgang
화랑대 Hwarangdae

(7) Personal names and company names
Proper names such as personal names and those of companies may be written >as they have been so far.


It’s not like the L dropped out of thin air. :slight_smile:




afbeelding https://korean.stackexchange.com/questions/468/why-is-the-korean-name-이-often-romanised-as-lee

afbeelding https://www.koreanwikiproject.com/wiki/Hanja


Yes, of course, but still in the West, where they don’t know any of that, they see an L and they pronounce an L.


As a Kor-Eng. translator, I would really appreciate it if our Viki editors can agree to a single set of rules. Having said that, my personal preference would be to follow as closely as possible to the rules set forth by the National Institute of Korean Language.


And what are those rules?

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@irmar actually already posted their rules above, but here is the link to the National Institute of Korean Language’s website. It is quite useful.



Ooo! 고맙습니다!

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Found this too on Netflix:

"II.4. Character Names

  • Do not translate proper names unless Netflix provides approved translations.
  • Nicknames should only be translated if they convey a specific meaning.
  • Use language-specific translations for historical/mythical characters (e.g. Santa Claus).
  • When translating Korean, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese content, the name order should be last name-first name, in accordance with linguistic rules. For South Korean names, first name should be connected with a hyphen, with second letter in lower case (i.e. 김희선: Kim Hee-sun), and North Korean names, first name is written without a hyphen (i.e. Kim Jong Un). For Chinese names, first name should be connected without a space, with only the first letter in upper case (i.e. 宁世征: Ning Shizheng). When romanizing names into English, standardized romanization guides should be followed, but well-established localized names should be allowed as exceptions."

There’s a difference between NK and SK naming conventions!


I didn’t know that they treat NK and SK names differently but in general I actually like their rules. I really hope that our Viki editors can at least agree on one set of rules. Whenever I work on a new project, I have to read the Team Notes and follow different rules according to whomever is in charge.


Not possible and not auspicable. Because then who gets to impose his rules on others? Who chooses the person who will take the decisions? You may suggest voting? What if we don’t agree with the ones the majority chose? What if the majority is wrong?

Call me an eternal optimist but I have more faith in our editors.:blush:

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And yet you’ve been here longer than I have. Yes, I’ve seen enough around here to believe that there would be sickeningly violent catfights on who gets to call the shots.

Actually, although I have been a longtime Viki subscriber, I’ve only been volunteering since July of last year. Perhaps I underestimate the strong personalities involved but I hope our editors can set aside their differences for the sake of all subbers, and to provide consistency for the viewers.


In 2009, I sampled Korean to English subtitlers on how to Romanize proper names because the Revised Rules of Romanization left it up to each individual as to how to Romanize their own names. The majority in 2009 chose last name followed by first (given) name and if the first (given)name was two syllables, two separate syllables, each capitalized with no hyphen between.
Because from time to time people assert that the naming convention is the subbing guidelines I authored is not what is favored, or not what is being done by Koreans, I recently polled 100 Korean to English subbers. Thirty-nine responded to the survey, which is an adequate sample size.
(https://www.statisticshowto.com/large-enough-sample-condition/ where n is greater than or equal to 30, “it’s large enough.”)
84.5% of the respondents chose last name followed by first (given) name. If the first (given)name was two syllables, sixty percent preferred two separate syllables, each capitalized with no hyphen between. (Same as the majority in 2009). Thus, I see no reason to change the subbing guidelines when I am Chief Editor.
I was also interested in how vowels are being Romanized. So I asked a series of question.
송 is Romanized to Song (100%)
숭 was Romanized to Soong (74.4%) (This is contrary to the RRR)
성 is Romanized Seong (79.2%)
승 is Romanized to Seung (97.4%)

I also asked about length of time subbing at viki with less than 1 year, 1 year, 2, years 3 years, 4 years, 5 years or more available as responses. The modal response was 5 years or more (35.1%) Approximately 60% of the respondents have subbed at viki for 2 or more years.


I think Korean to indo-european languages transliteration is in general very broken. Transliteration to a IE language essentially tries to translate Hangul. Phonetically the surname Kim 김, often sound like ‘Gim’ phoneticaly, while it is transliterated often as K. Also some Hangul letters can correspond to 2 sounds, like ㄹ, R/L. While in when I hear English most letters even are phonetically multi-sounds, such as ‘I’ I hear as ‘Ai’ and ‘A’ as ‘Ei’. Which makes things harder since a IE speaker may read the already problematic transliterated text wrong, since the letters are multi sounded. So there multiply transliteration standards trying to get it right phonetically, by interperting the Korean sounds different, according to which sound of a multisound latin letter they should use, compared to the neigboring standard. The problem as I se it is that most IE languages, including English, aren’t phonetic while the transliteration tries to be phonetic within this non-phonetic environment, thus breaking the entire thing. :slight_smile:


Your sample was Korean to English subtitlers, so they either live in English-speaking countries or their second language after Korean is English. So their responses would be expected to be English-centric, a way of writing that is comfortable to native English speakers.
However, we all know that native English speakers are not the only ones to consume English subtitles. Most European languages would be more comfortable with U romanized as U and not OO, because for us “oo” is just a double “o”.
Actually, I was surprised that in two out of three cases they did stick to RR. (I’m not counting the Song question, that was too obvious, what else would one put?)

It was interesting that they were not consistent in their choice. For instance they chose “oo” instead of u in 숭, but they didn’t choose “u” instead of “eo” in 성
This mixture is very confusing in my opinion. Either use the colonial style of u for eo and oo for u, or use the RR, not picking and choosing bits of one and bits of the other.