In the course of a post discussing his choice of Thunderbird as his e-mail client because it could handle Korean, Jonathon Delacour wondered why Korean (unlike Chinese and Japanese) couldn’t be entered in transcription:
I’m used to simply typing romaji to enter Japanese (and it took ten seconds or so to suss out pinyin) so I thought I’d be able to type ch’an maek?chu?ru
l chu?se?yo(“I’d like a cold beer, please”) on my English keyboard—just as I’d type bi¯ru o itadakitai’n desu ga in romaji—and that the IME would convert the hanglish to Hangul. But the only way I could enter Korean was by referring to this keyboard map. Maybe someone can tell me where I’m going astray.
In the comments, dda made an interesting point about Korean consonants that seems a convincing explanation of the keyboard problem:
The problem also is that even today, Koreans of the lower social classes can’t read latin characters. Spelling isn’t the forte of the overall spelling population either; if you’ve been to Korea, you’ve seen mispelled words and other abominations…
While this is partly a consequence of the close-mindedness of the country, it is mainly a linguistic problem: consonants can have two to four distinct values, depending on their position in a word.
For instance, ? can be pronounced t,d,tt,t’. An initial is always unvoiced. Plosives between two vowels are voiced. Etc… Spelling a foreign name is excruciatingly difficult. My given name, Didier, always comes out wrong. Same for my family name, which has two B’s. There’s always a P, a T, plus some other typos. So I can’t imagine how they could type in Korean in romanisation!