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.

Whether you want to understand basic words in K-pop or K-dramas, impress your Korean friends, or simply deepen your connection to the Korean culture, the Korean Language Starter Pack ensures that you quickly learn and retain the most commonly used Korean words and phrases today. Click here to learn more.