Korean Names


        As a general pattern, a Korean has two names:  first of all the family name, then this is followed by a personal or given name. Most of the family names have one syllable, though there are some which have two, for example: 황보, 독고.  If the family name has one syllable, the personal name most commonly has two: 이승만, 김일성. If the family name has two syllables, the personal name has only one, so that either way there are usually three syllables in the full name. There are exceptions to this pattern, and a number of Korean names have only two syllables, for example:  허웅, 백철, 김구.

        It is often possible to guess the gender of person on the basis of the syllables used in their given name. Some syllables tend to occur only in males' names, others only in females' names.

Syllables used typically in names for males : , , 태 , 석 , 준 , 훈 , 섭 , 식 , .

Syllables used typically in names for females : 미 , 희 , 나 , 애 , 자 , 혜 , 선 , 경 , 숙.

        This is only a general rule. Some syllables (like 희) can occur in both male and female names.

        Half of the Korean people bear the family name Kim, Lee, Park, or Choi.

            Kim, Gim, Ghim

           Lee, Yi, Rhee, Yie

           Park, Pak

          Choi, Choe

          Jung, Jeong, Chung, Cheong

        A title always comes at the very end. In the case of 씨, this can be attached at the end of a given name or a full name. In the case of  선생, this can be attached at the end of a surname or full name. 

For example: 김복동씨 or 복동씨 – Kim Poktong or Poktong

                           김복동 선생님 or  김 선생님 – Mr. Kim Poktong  or  Mr. Kim (or professor  Kim Poktong  or professor Kim)

        Unless you are on intimate terms with somebody, it is usual to refer to that person, in Korean, by their name plus a title . One of the most commonly used titles is the little word  씨, which comes after a person's full name, or just after the given name.

       When talking to, or about, children, it is customary to attach the dimininutive suffix –이 to given names ending in a consonant. Thus, if  김복동 would be a small boy, you would refer to him just  복동이. If the child's name ends with o vowel, you won't attach any diminutival suffix, yet you will say just the name, for example  진희.

        선생 is a word that, on its own, means teacher. With the honorific particle  님 after it, it functions as a title of respect honoring the person whose name it accompanies. You should use this title with the names of people to whom you wish to show courtesy . You should not use it with your own name. When you introduce yourself, simply give your name. For example: 저는 안나 요네스쿠입니다 = I'm Ana Ionescu or My name is  Ana Ionescu. 님 is an honorific suffix which you can add to titles to show an added degree of respect or deference. 

        When otherwise unspecified, the title  선생님  is usually translated  “Mrs.” or “Mr.”, but sometimes the context tells you the person's gender. To say specifically  “Mrs.” or "Miss" you have to say something like  김 선생님 부인 (Mr. Kim's wife) or 김 선생님 딸 (Mr. Kim's daughter). Increasingly frequently used English words are  미세스 and  미스 , to clearly specify the gender of the person. When talking to, or about, someone's parents we will say  복동이 어머니 (Poktong-i's mother) or  복동이 아버지 (Poktong-i's father) or 김 선생님 아버님 (Mr. Kim's father).

        You will often hear 사모님 used for "Mrs." or "Madam"  (instead of so-and-s0 선생님 부인). 사모 is an elegant word that originally means one's teacher's wife, but it can be used to refer to the wife of your superior or of any prominent man. 


CAUTION: While it is acceptable to use either the Western order or the Korean order when giving a Western name, you should always use the Korean order with Korean names, for example:  

안나 요네스쿠입니다 sau 요네스쿠 안나입니다 =  I'm Ana Ionescu or I'm Ionescu Ana.

but only

김복동입니다 = I'm Kim Poktong.


Written and translated by:  이사벨

Source: Elementary Korean & Wikipedia

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