2. Key Activities
  3. Land Survey
  4. Geographical Names

Geographical Names

Geographical Names
  • National Survey
  • Administration and Management of Korea Land Portal
  • Compilation of the Geography of Korea
  • Geographical Names
  • Public surveying
  • Understanding the Process of Public Surveys
  • The Gazetteer of Korea
  • Toponymic Guidelines
Geographical Names
(1) Overview of Geographical Names
Definition of Geographical Names
Geographical names refer to not only names of land areas, namely territory, but also all the diverse names, either handed down of specific phenomena including particular ground formations, or of historical facts. They are generally expressed as Geographical Name, Toponymy, or Place Name.

* These names are marked on the topographic maps produced by the National Geographic Information Institute (NGII) and provided to the general public. In principle, names in current use are indicated.

* Geographical names show the social conditions of a particular time, including ways of thinking, mindsets, traditions, customs, culture and economy.

* With the growing interest in geographical names emerging in recent years, toponymy has been developed as a new discipline in geography in many countries.

* As Korea has often neglected the preservation of tradition due to long periods of social instability, there have been a great number of geographical names whose origin or period is unclear and tenuous.

(2) Classification of Geographical Names
① General Classification
General Classification
Class Definition Jurisdiction
Administractive GN Boundaries that subdivide the national land for administrative purposes, as well as administrative units Ministry of Public Administration and Security
Natural GN Names for naturally formed topography or regions, including rivers, inlets, hills, valleys, capes, river crossings, mountains, and more Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs
Marine GN Names for straits, seamounts, ocean basins, and other features in maritime areas falling within the jurisdiction of Korea
Artificial GN Parks, historical remains, mines, street names, etc Related agencies
*GN: Geograpical Names
② Classification by the land features and/or its use
Classification by the land features and/or its use
Class Definition
Topographic GN Names based on the features of the land including mountains, hills
Land use GN Names based on the use of topography including fields and paddies, forests and fields, roads and ditches
Comprehensive GN Names created by later generations. Such names encompass mountain peaks, ponds and swamps, fields and paddies, and ditches, etc. In a certain district within a village or centering on a village
③ Classification by formation factors
③ Classification by formation factors
Class Definition
Natural GN Names relating to geographical features including mountains, flatland and peninsula
Cultural GN Names defined by historic, economic and cultural factors(Uniqueness)
(3) Overhaul of Geographical Names
1. Overview of Overhaul of Geographical Names
A. Overview
Systematically organize and maintain geographical names which are repeatedly created, fall into disuse and evolve as part of the changing process of history and culture.

Mark exact geographical names on a topographic map and use correct terms to promote the unification of the names currently used in a given region.
B. Geographical Names Amended by Year
Current Status of Overhaul of Geographical Names by Year
Total 151,842 Entire country
Year of notification No. of notified geographical names Regions and geographical names for overhaul
1961 124,000 Final notification of geographical names around the country
1983 10 The full areas of Chungcheongbuk-do and Gyeonggi-do
1984 2 Jeollabuk-do and Gyeonggi-do
1985 2 Gyeonggi-do and Gyeongsangnam-do
1987 2,761 The full areas of Seoul, Chungcheongbuk-do, Chungcheongnam-do and Jeollanam-do
1989 4,380 Incheon, Gyeonggi-do, Gangwon-do, Jeollabuk-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongsangnam-do and Jeju
1991 478 Gyeonggi-do, Gangwon-do, Chungcheongbuk-do, Chungcheongnam-do, Jeollabuk-do, Jeollanam-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do and Gyeongsangnam-do
1994 1,952 Seoul, Gwangju, Gyeonggi-do, Gangwon-do and Jeollanam-do
1995 35 Seoul, Busan, Gyeonggi-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do and Jeollanam-do
1997 2 Gyeongsangnam-do and Jeollanam-do
1998 4,324 Chungcheongbuk-do, Chungcheongnam-do and Busan
1999 758 Chungcheongnam-do, Chungcheongbuk-do and Daegu
2000 5,507 Jeollabuk-do, Gyeongsangnam-do, Gyeonggi-do, and Jeju
2001 18 Incheon
2002 2,926 Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongsangnam-do, Busan, Jeollanam-do and Gangwon-do
2003 3,737 Daegu, Gangwon-do, Jeollanam-do and Jeju
2004 346 Jeollanam-do
2006 540 Incheon, Busan, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongsangnam-do, Jeollabuk-do and Jeollanam-do, Gyeonggi-do, Daegu, Ulsan, Gangwon-do and Jeollanam-do
2007 13 Gangwon-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do
2008 1 Gangwon-do
2009 28 Jeollabuk-do, Jeollanam-do and Gyeongsangnam-do
2010 1 Gyeonggi-do
2011 21 Busan, Jeollanam-do
The initial overhaul of geographical names was carried out in 1958 when the Central Committee on Geographical Names was established at the National Geography Research Institute at the Ministry of National Defense (the predecessor of the National Geography Institute) along with a City-Province Committee on Geographical Names within each local government in accordance with General Order No. 03 of the Ministry of National Defense.

Geographical names in Korea were first overhauled in April 1961 when the Central Committee made a final notification on 124,000 cases (a total of 194 registers of geographic names among 137,000 cases investigated in the field.

For the purposes of maintaining and updating their original copies, the registers were regrouped into 179 between 1993 and 1997. A database for the registers was established in 1998.

- As of June 2011, 151,824 cases of modifying the geographical names of natural areas have been announced after deliberation by the National Committee on Geographical Names.
2. Procedures for the Overhaul of Geographical Names
A. Data Collection for the Overhaul of Geographical Names
Collect altered or newly-created geographical names from local governments or conduct field investigations or surveys to gather data according to the plan for graphical names overhaul

If geographical names marked on a map need to be changed at the request of local residents, the adjusted names are indicated on a map after undertaking the required procedures.
B. Procedures for Change and Establishment
Geographical names are established by the City-County-District Committee on Geographical Names, which is tasked with deliberating the proposed establishment and changes of geographical names within its jurisdiction. Proposals are subsequently brought before the City-Province Committee on Geographical Names. After adjustment, the proposed geographical names are submitted to the National Committee on Geographical Names. Thereafter, geographic names of each city and province are finally determined after deliberation by the National Committee on Geographical Names.

The NGII has been working since 1993 on a project to reorganize geographical names across the country. The institute had completed the project in six out of the 16 designated cities and provinces nationwide as of 2001 and since 2003 has pursued the project on a yearly basis apace with the map revision system to ensure effective overhaul of geographical names.
C. Details of Notification
-Established or Changed Geographical Names
-Location (indicated in terms of administrative districts)
-Position (indicated as longitude and latitude)
  • Flow Chart for Establishment and Notification of Geographical Names Flow Chart for Establishment and Notification of Geographical Names
3. Services Related to Geographical Names
A. Online Geographical Name Service
Based on geographical names used in 1/25000 topographic maps, the establishment of a database for about 150,000 administrative and natural geographical names was completed in 1998 and been available online since October 2000. Geographical names can be searched at the NGII website (www.ngii.go.kr) by administrative district, geographical name or map sheet using the service for topographical and geographical names.
  • Map screen Map screen
  • Detailed information on topographical, geographical names Detailed information on topographical, geographical names
B. National Management System for Geographical Names
In order to address problems in managing geographical names under the existing system, a separate management system for geographical names was developed.

This system is designed to allow for the management of deliberation on geographical names over the Internet to establish a manner to promptly and accurately deal with geographical names, contributing to building the basis for digitalization of national land and creating a framework for information service available to the general public.
Computerize the processes of a range of tasks for overhauling geographical names to establish a more prompt and accurate system

Systematically organize and maintain geographical names which are created, fall into disuse or evolve as part of the changing process of history and culture

Develop a system on the Internet to ensure effective, prompt and accurate implementation of all tasks relating to the national management system for geographical names including the deliberation of geographical names by city-county-district and the central committee
Future Plan
Improve speed and functionality and develop user-oriented content