Foreigners visiting Seoul have pointed out that they experience difficulty due to inconsistency or lack of sufficient information on traffic and tourist information signs. In response to such complaints, traffic and tourist information signs in Seoul will be re-written in Korean English, Chinese, and Japanese. The way they are written and their designs will also follow standardized formats for tourists’ convenience.
Seoul Metropolitan Government has set up a plan to improve such signs, including the overhaul of 144,134 signboards and information signs of more than 50 types, by 2106, and will start taking action gradually this year. The plan includes the installation of new signs where necessary and the launch of multi-language traffic information broadcasts.
Some 80,888 signs in Seoul are scheduled to be overhauled this year, with priority placed on the five leading tourist destinations (Myeong-dong, Jongno, Dongdaemun, Jamsil, and Itaewon) plus Bukchon Hanok Village and Namsan Park.
According to a status survey conducted by the Korea Tourism Organization in 2011, foreign tourists pointed to signboards as the No.2 item that should be improved. The complaints were made particularly by individual visitors, who account for 65% of all tourists visiting the country.
Seoul City’s plan to improve the signs is focused on three factors: re-writing them in four languages; following consistent standards in marking letters in foreign languages; and following standardized designs.
Place names in English will be marked in a way that will help foreigners understand them more easily, i.e., Namsan (Mountain) and The Hangang (River) rather than Mt. Nam and The Han. As for characters marked in Chinese and Japanese, simplified Chinese characters and katakana will be used in principle.
Seoul Metropolitan Government will also operate a 54,594 word online dictionary and launch the relevant integrated website by June 2013.
As part of such efforts, tourist site information will be provided at the bottom of the bus route maps provided at each bus stop.
As regards Seoul’s 72,263 taxicabs, manuals printed in foreign languages will be provided to help foreigners obtain accurate information about tourist attractions. Multi-language stickers containing information on place names will be attached to taxi stand pole signs.
In addition, a multi-language PA system service will be provided at 27 subway stations and 33 bus stops in addition to those already providing such a service.
Finally, Seoul Metropolitan Government will operate a feedback system. Under the system, complaints about information signs may be submitted to Seoul City through the homepage. Seoul City will also operate a team of monitors composed of 20 Chinese and 20 Japanese students in connection with the need to check users’ opinions. The foreign student monitors will be assigned the task of checking information signs in major tourist destinations, information signs at restaurants, information broadcasts, and public transportation at least once a week until the end of this year.