Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)

Korean Names

Korean, like Turkish and Mongolian, is a Ural-Altaic language and very different from Chinese and Japanese although it contains many loan words from the former and much of its literature is written in Classical Chinese. Names can be spelt in different ways when written in English.

Korean names are usually made up of three Chinese characters. The family name or surname comes first followed by the generation name and given name. Recently it has become fashionable to use given names which cannot be written in Chinese. Some, such as Sun Moon, form phrases which seem to make sense in English. It is not a legal requirement to use a generation name or to follow the pattern laid down for them within a family but most people still follow the tradition. Most families use about five generational names often chosen according to Taoism. Personal names are only used by family or close friends and even within families, it is common to use a relational name instead of the actual given name.

Families do use generation names for girls but these are not pre-determined and are often different from those used for the male children in a generation.

Oppa elder brother used by younger sister
Hyung elder brother used by younger brother
Nuna elder sister used by younger brother
Unni elder sister used by younger sister

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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