Gothic/Myungjo or Dotum/Batang?

The prototypical Serif and Sans Serif typeface style distinction in Korean has traditionally used the names Myeongjo (명조체/明朝體 myeongjoche) and Gothic (고딕체/고딕體 godikche), respectively. But, in 1993, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) Ministry of Culture, in an attempt to standardize typographic terms, recommended the use of Batang (바탕 batang) and Dotum (돋움 dotum) as the proper names for these two typeface styles.

At the time the Ministry of Culture recommendation was made, which was a period when printing was the most common use of fonts, Batang was meant for body text, and Dotum was for display or emphasis purposes. Mobile devices have provided a new use for Dotum, because its lack of serifs provided superior readability on mobile devices with smaller screens that necessitated smaller point sizes, and the original rationale for these new names seems to no longer apply.

From what I can tell, Korean type foundries have not embraced the Batang and Dotum names, and have actually resisted their use. What probably didn’t help was the fact that Microsoft released TrueType fonts with these exact names, with no additional qualifiers: Batang and Dotum. In other words, it seems that Microsoft’s use of these names polluted their chance at more widespread use, because they were treated as typeface names, not typeface style names.

In closing this brief article, I am curious about what our blog readership thinks about this particular issue. I welcome any and all comments.

3 Responses to Gothic/Myungjo or Dotum/Batang?

  1. Liang Hai says:

    In Mainland China, the exactly same issue (typeface style names being used as typeface names) of Chinese fonts has been badly influencing people’s understanding of typeface styles, for years.

  2. Junho Choi says:

    After discussion on Twitter, I was able to find the reference you are saying. It’s not public on the Internet but there are several articles mentioning about font name changes, such as

    According to the article it’s announced in 1993, not 1991. I also was able to find other references it’s announced in 1993.

    Also as you say Microsoft has licensed two fonts for Windows 95 and higher use; Batang and Dotum (also Gungseo and most famous Gulim) from Hanyang system. So originally it’s called ‘Hanyang Batang’, ‘Hanyang Gulim’ but soon people start to call only ‘(MS) Batang’ and ‘(MS) Dotum’ as a font name, not a style name. As a style we can apply Bold or Italic on Batang and Dotum fonts so it’s no longer a typeface style name.

    However the intention of MOC is to localize typography terms at that time to more better ones considering some historical issue to get away from Japanese style terms. As you know Myeongjo and Gothic are Japanese font name (meaning Mincho, Gothic respectively still exists in Japanese Windows) and due to the influence of Japanese age we used them as a font name for a long time. MOC was trying to change it to better Korean words. I think they simply change the name from Myeongjo to Batang, not changing its meanings or usage.

    Also mostly Batang(Myeongjo) is used for body text (books, newspapers) but I don’t think there is a rule limiting its usage. Especially in computer people freely use those fonts depending on application. Actually most widely used fonts recently is (Hanyang/MS) Gulim since it looks much better in PC monitor and it’s default font in Windows XP.
    Also Windows Vista/7 and Android use different defaults fonts now (see below)

    And looking for other font name popular these days, MOC’s intention is generally failed. Let’s see some of popular fonts names…

    – Malgun Gothic (default for Windows Vista and 7, replacing ‘Gulim’)
    – Namul Gothic (public fonts from NHN Corp. and default in Android OS)
    – Apple Gothic/Apple SD Neo Gothic (for MacOS and iOS) (SD means ‘Sandol’ who is a font company name)

    It should be called ‘Malgun Dotum’ but in practice it’s not.

    In conclusion… ‘Batang’ and ‘Dotum’ are now only specific font names for Windows OS, not meaning typeface style and actually is no longer popular and being replaced by others keeping old name such as Myeongjo and Gothic. However new variations such as Malgun Gothic or Nanum Gothic is better shown in large (PC monitor) or small display (smartphones, tablets) and quickly becoming de facto standards.