South Korea looks to ease name pain for London

Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:43pm IST

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(Reuters) - South Korea is planning to unify the spelling of athletes names in English at this year's London Olympics to ease confusion among foreign journalists and fans, local media reported on Friday.

The initiative will lead to a universal enforcement of the system revised in 2000, in which Koreans are required to use their family name before their given names, in accordance with the National Institute of the Korean Language.

Several South Korean athletes, however, continue to use the initials of their given name before their family names in international competition, something they will no longer be able to do at the July 27-August 12 Games.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, baseball player Kim Hyun-soo wore "H S Kim" on his uniform, while swimmer Park Tae-hwan opted for Park T.H." on the back of his tracksuit.

In London, Olympic champion Park will be required to spell his name either "Park Taehwan" or "Park Tae-hwan", which can be shortened to "Park T." in case of initialization.

Anglicized South Korean names have baffled overseas fans, officials and journalists for years, with the discrepancy between what is written on team sheets and shirts triggering panic for journalists at deadline time.

(Reporting by Alastair Himmer in Tokyo; Editing by John O'Brien)

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