Why 순대 (Sundae) is the Worst Romanized Korean Word

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This was one of the first things that confused me when I first came to Korea. I just started learning hangul and couldn’t remember all of the letters and sounds yet.

Sometimes I would see signs that said “sundae” thinking they served ice cream as a dessert or something. So one time I went into a restaurant, ordered my dinner, and afterward asked for a “SEON-dae” as in the ice cream. The lady had no idea what I was talking about, and after frustration because of my lack of Korean skills, I just left dumbfounded and craving an ice cream sundae.

Then at school one day, I was telling students some of my favorite desserts, and I wrote “sundae” on the board. They kept calling it “SOON-dae” and I kept asking them why they were calling it that and I was getting very annoyed about it haha.

They then showed me pictures and it was one of the first Korean words I can remember learning. Just one of the many interesting experiences as a noob here in Korea. I think they should change the romanization to soondae as many Koreans who have “순”in their name also write it out as “Soon”.

I’m not a big fan of the dish, but will eat it when presented with it for school at lunch.

This was long before I met Hyo, as I’m sure she would’ve pointed out my mistake immediately.

Also remember that romanization is only a tool. Try not to depend on it too much. Learning the Hangul alphabet is the key to success!

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