Shown left is a tourist sign at the Jongmyo Shrine in central Seoul. It has a typo, as highlighted in red in the top right photo. In the bottom left photo, a commemorative sign uses an old-style romanization system without any explanation. Photo by Korea News Plus Tim Kim

CHA urged top correct mistakes immediately

This is the first of a series checking mistakes and typos in English-language tourist signs or explanations on the country’s cultural heritages. _ ED. 

Seoul is full of cultural heritage at the center of South Korea’s capital city, including Jongmyo, a Confucian shrine dedicated to the perpetuation of memorial services for the deceased kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

The solemn atmosphere of the shrine has attracted so many Koreans and foreign visitors despite the virus pandemic over the past two years.

However, the shrine is found to have English-language tourist signs with typos.

For example, the tourist sign at the front gate of the shrine mistakenly spells the Hall of Eternal Peace as the Hall of Enternal Peace.

In addition, the romanization systems of the signboards are different. In a sign set up to celebrate the shrine’s having become the UN Cultural Heritage in 1995, the shrine’s name was written as Chongmyo.

Back then, the country used the McCune-Reischauer system under which the shrine was supposed to be spelled as Chongmyo.

In the early 2000s, however, the Seoul administration introduced a new system under which the shrine should be spelled as Jongmyo.

Tourists point out that there have to be explanations for that.

“For me, it’s very confusing whether the shrine is Jongmyo or Chongmyo. I understand that it might be difficult to revise the old-system-based romanization inscribed on a stone,” said a foreign student at a university in Seoul. The Korea News Plus met him at Jongmyo.

“At least, the administration can put a signboard explaining the difference so that foreigners do not have to be confused.”

The Cultural Heritage Administration, which is supposed to preserve and promote Korean cultural heritage, is urged to do something about the mistakes and inconsistency immediately.

The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at voc200@gmail.com or 82-2-6956-6698.