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Looser rules for changing name on a passport

Apr 04,2018
All Koreans over the age of 18 will be allowed to change how they spell their romanized name on their passport once in their lifetime after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs implemented a revision to the Passport Act on Tuesday.

Previously, the ministry did not allow romanization changes in order to preserve the integrity of the Korean passport and prevent complications at customs. The only exceptions were names which were romanized to a pronunciation that did not match the Korean one or romanizations with negative connotations, such as “Sin” instead of “Shin.”

The revision allows any adult to change the spelling of his or her romanized name regardless of the reason so long as the pronunciation matches the Korean name registered with the Korean Family Registry.

The ministry provided some examples. “Yun” to “Yoon” and “Kang” to “Khang” are allowed, but “Yun” to “Un” and “Kang” to “Kan” are not. “Mi-jeong” to “Mi-jung” is fine, as is “Jun-ho” to “Joon-ho.”

The revision acknowledges that passports issued to children include romanizations that were made before the individuals could make an independent decision on the spelling. These passport holders can make the change after they turn 18.

However, those over 18 who have already changed the romanization of their name once under the old rules will not be allowed to make another change under the new rules.

“We look forward to lifting the inconveniences felt by Korean people through this revision of the Passport Act,” the ministry said in a statement. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to work toward resolving such inconveniences and difficulties associated with passport affairs.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]