A Pactical Guide to McCune-Reischauer Romanization is back!  Well, almost. There are still some links that need updating but unless you need to download files, which are optional, this site, as is now, should get you started with McCune-Reischauer romanization.   Happy romanizing!


In the summer of 1937, two American graduate students invented, almost by chance, a method that could represent the pronunciation of Korean words with the Latin alphabet.(1)  Even though they were assisted by leading Korean phonetics scholars of the day, this method bears the names of the two Americans: the McCune-Reischauer system of Korean romanization.(2) This nearly accidental creation has been the standard method of Korean romanization in the Western world ever since.

Why a web site on the McCune-Reischauer system?

The McCune-Reischauer system is considered "awkward and cumbersome at best" by "most Korean-literate people."(3)  A great deal of  inconsistency and arbitrariness found in Korean romanization is attributed to the system. 

McCune-Reischauer.tistory.com aims to promote more consistent, less arbitrary romanization of Korean in the following ways. 

First, it explains the McCune-Reischauer system and attempts to exonerate it from some of the criticisms directed against it.  Second, it brings to the fore the ALA-LC romanization guidelines.  These guidelines for Korean romanization, sponsored by the American Library Association and the Library of Congress, are far lesser known than the McCune-Reischauer system.  However, they define how the McCune-Reischauer system is applied and their importance, therefore, cannot be overstated.  Third, it distributes McCune and Reischauer's original paper, romanization programs, and other tools and resources related to Korean romanization. 

Organization of this site

I. Introduction

    Romanization of Korean: Why, When, and Which?

II. The McCune-Reischauer System

    Why Is the McCune-Reischauer System So "Complicated"?
    Simplified Table vs. Comprehensive Chart of the M-R System
    Step-by-Step Romanization of  독립
What the M-R System Does and Does Not Do

III. The ALA-LC Romanization Guidelines

   ALA-LC Guidelines: Romanization, Word Division, Capitalization, & Punctuation
   What the Guidelines Do Not Cover: Italicization

IV. Downloads

    Software for Korean romanization
    Transactions of the Korea Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society

    ALA-LC Romanization Tables: Transliteration Schemes for Non-Roman Scripts

V. About this site



(1) George McCune, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, was in Seoul with his father-in-law at Chōsen Christian College (now Yŏnsei University) when Edwin Reischauer, a boyhood friend of his, paid an unplanned visit to Seoul.  Reischauer was originally bound for China but his trip to China was delayed in the aftermath of  the Marco Polo Bridge incident.  McCune was fluent in Korean and Reischauer was trained in linguistics. When they combined their talents, the McCune-Reischauer system was born.  Keith Pratt and Richard Rutt, Korea: A Historical and Cultural Dictionary, xiii    
(2) Namely Ch'oe Hyŏnbae, Chŏng Insŏp, and Kim Sŏn'gi.  
(3) Joy Kim, "Chapter I. Romanization and Word Division," Korean Librarianship Outside of Korea: A Practical Guide and Manual, edited by Joy Kim, p. 1.  http://www.usc.edu/isd/archives/arc/libraries/eastasian/korea/ckm/    

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