Walking down the street, you often see foreign language signs.

Worse still, this is Korea, but except for special reasons, signboards that only use foreign languages are illegal.

Still, we found out why there are so many foreign-language signs.

Did you know that cafes, restaurants and a variety of foreign-language signs, which are easy to see, are illegal?

According to the Enforcement Decree of the Outdoor Advertising Materials Management Act, if it is displayed in foreign characters, it must be written side by side with Korean characters unless there is a special reason.

The signboard should be as easy to understand as the majority of citizens see.

However, as I walked through the alleys near Seoul Forest and counted each one, I found that out of the 22 shops I encountered, 19 were foreign-language signs.

This raises the question.

Why are there so many of them?

Looking back at the aforementioned decree, there is a strange corner of this "special reason".

According to the 2022 Outdoor Advertising Materials Law Commentary published by the Korea Outdoor Advertising Center, if a trademark registered with the JPO is displayed as it is, it is considered to be a special reason.

That's the case with most of the big franchisees we know well.

So are other signs illegal? It's a complicated affair.

In accordance with Article 5 of the Enforcement Decree of the Management Law, if the signboard area is less than 5 square meters and is installed on the third floor or less, it is not subject to notification or permission.

Therefore, not only is it difficult for the district office to monitor closely, but it is also difficult to manage and regulate in practice.

Signage in foreign languages is already familiar, but sometimes people complain of inconvenience.

[Bang Gyeongju/College Student: I was embarrassed because I had no idea what I was selling or what I meant.]

[Baek Ju-young/Office worker: I remember looking at the map because I didn't know where it was because it wasn't in Korean.]

In fact, not only the signboard, but also the menu, product name, and apartment name are often used in foreign languages.

[Kim Young-ha/Menu Consultant: I don't think Korean is a bit tacky, but I think a lot of people think that when the overall perception is in a foreign language, it feels more sophisticated.]

Experts say that not only some products need to be changed to Korean, but overall language recognition needs to be improved.

[Seo Hyun-jung/Senior Researcher, Sejong Korean Language and Culture Center: (Signboard) is a public language that all citizens, young and old, should look at and recognize, and basically they should be able to easily understand and communicate what it is, so I think we need to continue to make efforts to inform business owners and the public that there is freedom to use foreign languages, but such things are more of a priority.]

Foreign language signage is a problem It's hard to say it in such a pinch, but I still wish there were more pretty Korean signboards.