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Hena? Hyena? Reason enough to change passport name, says panel

A Korean woman on Tuesday won the Ombudsman board’s support to change the English spelling of her name on her passport, after she said she was bullied by classmates over it.

Currently, her passport reads “Ha Hena,” but she wants it to be spelt as “Ha Hannah,” so her name doesn’t sound like the word “hyena.”

According to the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, the state-run panel ruled that the Foreign Ministry should reconsider its earlier rejection of the complainant’s request for a passport name change.

“In order to uphold foreign governments’ confidence in Korean passports, it is understandable that a request for a name change is dealt with caution. But in this case the matter is linked to one’s right to happiness,” the panel said in its decision.

As for reasons for the change, the complainant said she was bullied while attending school overseas because people said her name sounded similar to the animal hyena.

It was in spite of her parents choosing Hena over Hyena, which would be closer in compliance to standard Romanization rules, when applying for her first passport when she was 7.

Korea Herald daum