All signs on roads, streets, subway stations and online maps will be marked in four languages and in a more readable format by 2016, Seoul Metropolitan Government announced Wednesday.
The plan is aimed at making the city more convenient to an increasing number of foreign residents and tourists.
Complex signs received the second most complaints from foreign tourists in its 2011 survey on their experiences traveling in Seoul.
|A tourist information sign is written in four languages at the Seoul Museum of Art in central Seoul.(Yonhap News)|
The city will install more than 144,000 new signs in four languages: Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese.
Road and street signs are currently written in Korean and English.
Chinese and Japanese made up 37.4 percent and 22.3 percent, respectively, of total foreign tourists to the nation in 2011.
“With the new signs, foreigners will have a better travel experience in Seoul,” said Seo Jeong-hyup, a director at the city government’s Culture, Design and Tourism Headquarters.
The city will also change the standard for the English writing system. English signs often confused travelers since there was no uniform standard for transliterating names of places into English.
The new English signs will have the Korean pronunciation in English first, followed by the meaning in brackets.
Namsan, a signature mountain in the middle of the city, for example, will be “Namsan (Mountain)”; the Han River will be “Hangang (River).”
Chinese signs will use simplified Chinese letters and Japanese will be written in katakana, characters used for foreign words.
The city will first change around 80,000 signs for roads, public transit and tourist attractions this year.
The rest will be installed in phases by 2016 and a total budget of 18 billion won ($17 million) will be spent on the new signs.
Major tourist spots such as Myeong-dong, Jongno, and Dongdaemun will be first in line to don the new multilingual signs.
Quick response codes for smartphones will be attached to signboards at such tourist hot spots to provide detailed information.
A monitoring team consisting of foreign students will be established to report incorrect information and inconveniences.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)