7 junio, 2024

The 100 most common Korean surnames and their meanings

We make a compilation of the most frequent Korean surnames

The korean surnames They give a sample of the culture of this Asian people. In this onomastic tradition, the surname (by patronymic custom) is usually placed followed by the personal name.

In both South Korea and North Korea, surnames are normally written in Hangul (a character system typical of this culture).

However, the custom of differentiating the multiple meanings that a character in Hangul can have through hanjas (characters that are derived from Chinese both in writing and in meaning) is maintained.

Most commonly, Korean first and last names consist of a single syllable (or a single hangul). Despite that, there are exceptions such as the surname Namgung (남궁), which is among the 100 most popular.

When it comes to romanizing or writing with the alphabet, Koreans can choose from a wide variety of options in each case: some prefer to be faithful to the sound of the traditional language and others prefer to adapt them to the new language in which they will operate.

List of Korean surnames

– An (안)

This Korean surname comes from the Chinese character “安”, so it can be interpreted as ‘peaceful’, ‘calm’ or ‘safe’. Other accepted romanizations are: Ahn, Arn and Aan.

– Bae (배)

It is derived from the hanja “裵” and has various definitions within the Korean language, including ‘pear’ (fruit), ‘stomach’, ‘boat’ or ‘vessel’. It can also be written as Pae, Bai, Bea, Pai, Bay or Pay.

– Baek (백)

Sometimes found as Paek, Baik, Paik, Back, Pack or Beak, it is a Korean surname meaning ‘white’, since it derives from “白”.

– Bak (박)

It comes from the hanja “朴” (‘pumpkin’), and can be written Pak, Park, Back, Bahk or Pahk. It is said that the first member of this family, the king of Silla, Hyeokgeose was born from a gourd-shaped egg, which is why he was given this name which he passed on to his descendants.

– Ban (반)

Because this family name is written with the hanja “潘”, its interpretation is ‘the water that remains after washing the rice’. It can also be romanized as Pan, Bahn, Pahn, Bhan, and Van.

– Bang (방)

It uses the hanja “房” to differentiate itself from other homographs and that is why its meaning is ‘room’ or ‘room’. Pang, Bhang, Bahng, Pahng or Phang are other accepted spellings for this surname.

– Bang (방)

It can also be written in its romanized form as Pahng, Phang, Pang, Bhang, and Bahng. In this case, he uses the hanja “方”, so its meaning is ‘direction’, ‘path’ or ‘method’.

– Byeon (변)

Thanks to the use of the character “卞”, this form of the surname can be interpreted as ‘impatient’. The spellings Pyŏn, Byun, Byon, Pyun, Byoun, Pyon, Pyoun or Pyeon are also used.

– Byeon (변)

This Korean surname is differentiated with the hanja “邊”, meaning ‘edge’, ‘side’, ‘edge’ or ‘edge’. Other forms in which it is written are Pyon, Pyoun, Pyeon, Pyŏn, Pyun, Byun, Byon and Byoun.

– Cha (차)

By the use of the character “車” it is translated as ‘car’, ‘vehicle’ or ‘cart’, it can also be written Ch’a, Char or Chah.

– Chae (채)

It is a very popular surname in both Korea and China where the same hanja is used to write it: “蔡” (“Cai”). It is thought that its original meaning was linked to the name of a species of turtle. Other forms are: Ch’ae, Chai, Che, Chea and Chay.

–Cheon (천)

The meaning of this surname when written with “千” is ‘thousands’ or ‘many’. Its romanization can also be Ch’ŏn, Chun, Chon and Choun.

– Cho (조)

Being written with “曺” it means ‘group’ or ‘companion’. This surname can be written as Jo, Joe, Joh or Jou.

– Choe (최)

This surname can be represented with the hanja «崔» which would mean ‘ruler of the earth and the mountain’ or, simply, ‘top or mountain’. Other ways of transliterating it are Ch’oe, Choi, Che, Choy, Chwe, and Chey.

– Chu (추)

It can be romanized as Ch’u, Choo, Chou or Chyu and is written “秋” in hanja. Its meaning is ‘autumn’.

– C (도)

This surname means ‘city’ or ‘capital’ (since its writing represents “都”). Doh, To, Toe, Doe and Toh are other spellings.

– Eo (어)

It is written with the hanja “魚”, so it is interpreted as ‘fish’. It is also written as Ŏ, Uh, Urh, or Eoh.

– Eom (엄)

The translation of this surname that uses “嚴” is ‘rigorous’ or ‘strict’ and can be found in the following ways: Ŏm, Um, Uhm, Oum and Ohm.

– Eun (은)

Also Ŭn, Ehn, Enn, Unn, En or Un, is a Korean surname that uses the hanja “殷” when represented, this is interpreted as ‘magnificent’ or ‘great’.

– Gang (강)

It is linked to the character “姜”, which has ‘ginger’ as one of its meanings. Other forms in which this surname is found are Kang, Kahng, and Khang.

– Gang (강)

It is also transliterated as Kang, Kahng or Khang, but in this case written with the hanja “康”, it can be translated as ‘healthy’ or ‘peaceful’.

– Geum (금)

This surname is thought to mean ‘bright’ and is sometimes written as Kŭm, Keum, Kum, Gum, Guem and Kuem.

– Gi (기)

This Korean surname when written with the hanja «奇» acquires the meaning of ‘strange’ or ‘rare’. It can also be romanized as Ki, Kee, Key, Gee, Ky, Khee, or Kie.

– Gil (길)

When he uses “吉” this surname means ‘good’ or ‘lucky’. Other spellings are Gill, Kil, Khil, Keel, Kihl, Kiehl, or Kill.

– Gim (김)

This is the most common surname in Korea; represents the hanja “金” and is therefore translated as ‘gold’ or ‘golden’. It can also be transliterated as Ghim, Kim, Khym, Keem, and Gym.

– Go (고)

The meaning of this surname is ‘high’ since it uses the Chinese character “高”. There are also other ways of writing it such as Ko, Koh, Goh, Kho, Gho, Kor and Co.

– Gong (공)

This surname is equivalent to Kong, which is more common in China, both use the hanja “孔”. They descend from the Zi family (of the Shang dynasty), so they are related to Confucius. Other spellings are: Kohng, Koung, Goung, Khong and Cong.

– Gu (구)

It uses the hanja “具” for what it means ‘tool’, the romanizations Ku, Koo, Goo, Kou, Kuh, Khoo or Khu are also accepted.

– Guk (국)

It can be written Kuk, Kook, Gook, Kug, Gug, Cook and Kug. It uses the Chinese hanja “鞠” which has several meanings, one of which is ‘ball’ or ‘ball’ and another is ‘to bend’.

–Gwak (곽)

Its translation is ‘city walls’ since it uses the character “郭”. Other spellings are Kwag, Kwack, Gwag, Koak, Kuark, and Quack.

– Gwon (권)

It is a surname of Korean origin that can be interpreted as ‘authority’ or ‘rights’ (since it uses “權”). Kwŏn, Kwon, Gwon, Kweon, or Kwun are other ways it can be transliterated.

– Ha (하)

It translates as ‘river’ and is written with the hanja “河”, it is also found as Hah and Har frequently.

–Ham (함)

The bearers of this Korean surname seem to have a common ancestor, General Ham Kyu, of the Koryo dynasty who fought in the 13th century against the Mongols. He is also often written as Hahm, Hamm, or Haam.

– Han (한)

Whenever written with the hanja “韓” this surname means ‘Korea’ and, in some cases, ‘South Korea’ specifically. Other spellings are Hanh, Hann, and Hahn.

– Heo (허)

The translation of this surname is ‘consent’ or ‘permission’ as it is written with “許”. In addition, it can be written in the following ways: Hŏ, Hur, Huh, Her, Hu, Ho, Hoh or Heoh.

–Hong (홍)

In some cases written Houng, Hoong or Hung; is a Korean surname meaning ‘broad’ or ‘big’ and using the hanja “洪”.

– Hwang (황)

When written with “黃” the meaning of this surname is ‘yellow’. Whang or Whong forms are also accepted.

– Hyun (현)

Means ‘dark’ or ‘mysterious’ (“玄”). Other spellings are Hyŏn, Hyeon, Hyon, and Hyoun.

– I (이)

This surname is also written as Yi (in South Korea), Ri (in North Korea), Lee, Rhee, Ree, Reeh, Ee, Rie or Rhie. It is the second most common Korean surname and uses the hanja “李”, meaning ‘plum tree’.

– Im (임)

Although this surname can have different meanings depending on the hanja with which it is written, in this case it is translated as ‘responsibility’ or ‘the one in charge’, as it uses “任”. Other ways to write it are Lin, Yim, Rim, Leem, Rhim, and Eam.

– Im (임)

It can also be romanized as Rim, Lim, Yim, Rhim, Eam, or Leem. This Korean surname uses “林”, which is why it is interpreted as ‘forest’.

– In (인)

It makes use of the hanja “印” and consequently means ‘seal’, ‘impression’ or ‘mark’. Ihn, Yin, Inn, Lin, and Ean are accepted spellings.

– Jang (장)

It is one of the most common surnames within Korea, just like in China. When using the hanja “張” it is given the meanings ‘archer’ and ‘page’. It can be found as Chang, Jahng, Jhang or Zang.

– Jang (장)

In this case it is written with “蔣”, so it is interpreted as ‘zizania’ or ‘Manchurian wild rice’ (a type of Asian vegetable). Some popular ways to romanize it are Chiang, Jahng, Chang, Jhang, Zang.

– Heh (제)

It uses the hanja “諸”, consequently, its translation is ‘many’ or ‘all’. Jae, Jea, Che, Jei, and Jhe are other spellings.

– Jeon (전)

It can mean ‘intact’ or ‘complete’, since it uses “全”. This surname is also usually found as Chŏn, Jun, Chun, Chon and Cheon.

– Jeon (전)

When “田” is used to write this Korean surname, it translates as ‘cultivation field’. The spellings Chŏn, Chun, Chon, Cheon, and Jun are popular for transliterating it.

– Jeong (정)

This surname has various forms depending on its hanja, in this case “丁” makes it mean ‘man’, ‘robust’ or ‘long tack’. Chŏng, Jung, Joung, Chung, Cheong, and Choung are other spellings.

– Jeong (정)

This surname denotes origin from the kingdom of Zheng when written with “鄭”. It can also be romanized as Chŏng, Chung, Cheong, Choung, Jung, and Joung.

– Ji (지)

It is related to the hanja “池”, so its meaning is ‘pool’ or ‘pond’. Other spellings are Chi, Jee, Gi, Chee, Gee, and Jhi.

– Jin (진)

It is also frequently found as Qin, since it uses the hanja “秦”, which refers directly to the State of Qin (from the Chinese dynasty of the same name for which this Asian nation received its name). Other ways to write it are Chin, Jeen or Gin.

– Jin (진)

It can be translated as ‘exhibit’, ‘show’ or ‘display’ (“陳”). It can be found as Chin, Jeen or Gin.

– Jo (조)

This surname comes from «趙», which is also romanized as Cho, Joe, Joh or Jou and comes from the surname…

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