We’re going to show you how to make a Korean name for yourself.
There are lots of ways to do this, and we’re going to tell you all about South Korean names. Take a look at the 6 methods below, and choose the one that you like best!
If you’re looking for a professionally chosen name that fits your personality then be sure to check out our Korean Naming Service.
- 1 List of Korean Names
- 2 List of Korean last names
- 3 List of Korean first names
- 4 All About Korean Names
- 5 How do South Korean Names Work?
- 6 What is my Korean name?
- 6.1 Method 1: Write My Name in Korean
- 6.2 Method 2: Use a Korean Name Generator
- 6.3 Method 3: Choose From a List of Names
- 6.4 Method 4: Choose a Name That Sounds Like My Own Name
- 6.5 Method 5: Pick A Korean Name With Special Meaning
- 6.6 Method 6: Get A Korean Name Chosen By Professionals
- 7 How to write my name in Korean
- 8 Help Writing My Name in Korean
- 9 Wrap Up
Also, we’ve created a free PDF version of this post to take with you on the go. Use it on your search for the perfect name!
List of Korean Names
Below are lists of common Korean surnames and Korean first names. You can use these lists of names to create your own name in Korean!
List of Korean last names
Here is a list of the top Korean surnames in both English and Hangul, along with their meaning.
|Korean Family Name||Hangul||Meaning|
|Kim||김||Meaning: Metal, gold or iron|
|Lee||이||Meaning: Plum tree
|Gwan||관||Meaning: Tube or pipe|
|Jeong||정||Meaning: Tablet or quiet|
|Yang||양||Meaning: Amount or positive|
|Jin||진||Meaning: Camp lost or a sign of the dragon|
|Yoo||유||Meaning: Willow tree|
|Han||한||Meaning: The One|
|Nam||남||Meaning: A Man or south|
|Cho||조||Meaning: Second or beginning
|Yun||윤||Meaning: Cloud or luck|
|Pae||배||Meaning: Loosely or The name of the 'Pae' clan|
|Ma||마||Meaning: Horse, hemp|
List of Korean first names
|BoBae||보배||Female||Meaning: Treasure, precious|
|BoRa||보라||Female||Meaning: Purple color|
|ChoHee||초희||Female||Meaning: Beautiful, joy|
|Daehyun||대현||Male||Meaning: Wise man|
|DaeSeong||대성||Male||Meaning: Great success|
|DaEun||다은||Female||Meaning: Young girl or Silver|
|DaJeoung||다정||Female||Meaning: Loving and understanding|
|DoHyun||도현||Male or Female||Meaning: An intelligent person|
|Donghyun||동현||Male||Meaning: A symbol of strength.|
|DoYoon||도윤||Male||Meaning: A government post|
|DoYun||도연||Female||Meaning: Lotus blossom|
|Eun Ae||은애||Female||Meaning: Grace and love|
|EunJi||은지||Female||Meaning: Wisdom or mercy|
|Eunsuh||은서||Female||Meaning: Mercy or west|
|GaHee||가희||Female||Meaning: Beauty or elegance|
|HaYoon||하윤||Male or Female||Meaning: Morality or richness|
|HyeonJeong||현정||Female||Meaning: Virtuous or worthy|
|HyeonJu||현주||Female||Meaning: Jewel or pearl|
|HyeonU||현우||Male||Meaning: Manifest or clear|
|Jeong||정||Male or Female||Meaning: Gentle|
|JeongHui||정희||Male or Female||Meaning: Right or beauty|
|Jia||지아||Female||Meaning: Clear or good|
|JiEun||지은||Female||Meaning: Branch or kindness|
|JiHo||지호||Male||Meaning: Brave spirit
|JiHoo||지후||Male or Female||Meaning: Wisdom or elegant|
|JiMin||지민||Male or Female||Meaning: Gentle or jade|
|Jin||진||Male or Female||Meaning: Jewel or truth|
|JinHwa||진화||Female,Male||Meaning: Most wealthy|
|JinSol||진솔||Female||Meaning: Become a leader|
|JiSoo||지수||Male or Female||Meaning: Gorgeous|
|JiU||지우||Male or Female||Meaning: Ambition or universe|
|JiWon||지원||Male or Female||Meaning: First beautiful woman|
|JiYoung||지영||Male or Female||Meaning: Honor
|JooEun||주은||Female||Meaning: Silver pearl|
|JooYeon||주연||Female||Meaning: Gentle or relaxed|
|JunA||준아||Female||Meaning: Swift horse|
|JunHo||준호||Male||Meaning: Summer sky|
|MiHee||미희||Female||Meaning: Beautiful or joy|
|Min||민||Male or Female||Meaning: Jade|
|Minho||민호||Male||Meaning: Fall sky|
|MinJi||민지||Female||Meaning: Sharp or comprehend|
|MinSeo||민서||Female||Meaning: Composed or People|
|SangHoon||상훈||Male||Meaning: Eternal or teach|
|SeoHyeon||서현||Female||Meaning: Felicitous omen or worthy|
|SeoYeon||서연||Female||Meaning: Make clear
|Seunghyun||승현||Male or Female||Meaning: Succession|
|Shin||신||Male||Meaning: Center or belief|
|SoHee||소희||Female||Meaning: Young or honest|
|Soo A||수아||Female||Meaning: Talent or lofty|
|Soobin||수빈||Male or Female||Meaning: Sparkle|
|SooJin||수진||Male or Female||Meaning: Truth|
|Soomin||수민||Male or Female||Meaning: Smart|
|SooYeon||수연||Female||Meaning: Lotus flower or lovely|
|SungMin||성민||Male or Female||Meaning: Star or clever|
|Taeyeon||태연||Female||Meaning: Proud or big|
|Wook||욱||Male||Meaning: Dawn or rising sun|
|YeJi||예지||Female||Meaning: Study or Beautiful|
|YeJoon||예준||Male||Meaning: Trout or humble|
|YeonAh||연아||Female||Meaning: Beauty or better|
|Yeong||영||Male or Female||Meaning: Flower|
|YoonAh||윤아||Female||Meaning: Highly beauty|
|YuMi||유미||Female||Meaning: Willow or beauty|
|YunSeo||윤서||Female||Meaning: Allow or lazy|
|Yuri||유리||Female||Meaning: Comfortable or glass bead|
All About Korean Names
What’s in a name? Well, in South Korea — a name can mean quite a bit actually!
Many South Korean parents will spend a lot of time and money to come up with the perfect name for their child. It’s not just about choosing a Korean name that will make their child popular. They believe that names can determine their destiny. Almost all Korean names have a deeper meaning through hanja (Chinese characters). These names are called Sino-Korean, but more on that later.
With a child’s future on the line, it’s important to come up with a good Korean name. The family doesn’t necessarily choose a name because it’s popular, but will often choose one that means something in Korean.
If you’re not used to pronouncing Korean names it’s best to brush up on that before diving in with a name of your own! And that means learning to read the Korean alphabet.
As a visitor living or traveling in South Korea (or even living in your home country and interacting with Koreans), it’s easy to notice a barrier at times due to Korean cultural differences. Not to mention that many foreigners can have names that are very difficult to pronounce for Koreans.
Having a native-sounding Korean name is a great way to break the ice and get started on the right foot. It adds just a little extra layer of comfort and Koreans will have fun calling you by your new Korean name. These names sound familiar to them, so it’s a convenient way to get closer!
While it can be tough to come up with the perfect Korean name, we’re going to help point you in the right direction so that choosing a name becomes much easier.
How do South Korean Names Work?
Kim Yuna (김연아)
Lee Min-ho (이민호)
Bae Yong-joon (배용준)
As you can see, most names in Korean have three syllables.
There are some names with more than three syllables and some names with less than three syllables. However, the large majority of names have three.
You should try to stick with a three-syllable name as well when coming up with a name in Korean for yourself. It’ll make it much easier for your Korean friends and acquaintances that way.
In South Korea, it’s proper for the family name to be written first. So the first character you see is the family name. By far the most common last names are 김 (Kim), 이 (Lee), and 박 (Park).
The second part is the given name. The Korean name above is 김 민수 (Kim Min-su).
Korean Name Structure
Korean names usually consist of three phonetic units or syllables. They’re made up of a family name and first name. Let’s look at an example name:
- 김 is the first unit, and also the person’s family name. It’s written first.
- 민수 takes the second and third unit places and is the person’s given name. It can be written on its own or after the family name.
Korean First Names
Although the first names (given name) of Koreans are typically two phonetic units, it is possible to have one-syllable names in Korean. For example, you may see one-syllable names like 박 (Park) and three-syllable names, like 빛나리 (Bit-nari). These are infrequent in South Korea though.
Here are some examples.
One-Syllable First Name
- First name: 준
- Family name + first name: 김준
Three-Syllable First Name
- First name: 빛이찬
- Family name + first name: 김빛이찬
There will be many different Korean first name combinations. Although some will be more common than others, you’ll constantly run into new ones you’ve never heard of!
Korean Last Names
Korean last names or Korean surnames are usually one syllable. However, sometimes there are two-syllable last names, but they are rare. Some examples are 사공 (Sa-gong) and 남궁 (Nam-gung)
There are about 250 last names in South Korea. The most common Korean surnames 김 (Kim), 최 (Choi), 이 (Lee), 박 (Park) make up over half of all last names in Korea
Some other common Korean surnames are 김, 박, 정, 윤, 문, 이, 최, and 강.
Korean Name Traditions
The same Korean given name is usually not passed down from generation to generation (i.e. from father to son, mother to daughter). However, it’s possible and quite common for Korean parents to give or a Korean family to have a generational name. This means a single Korean character (Hangul or Hanja) is shared within the family.
For example, it’s popular for Korean parents to name their kids with the same first syllable if the genders are the same, i.e. 지우 (Ji-yoo) and 지훈 (Ji-hoon), 유진 (Yu-jin) and 유림 (Yu-rim)
Korean Hanja Names
Almost all names have a Hanja spelling. Hanja is the word used to describe Chinese characters in Korean and is an important part of the language. You can see this in Sino-Korean names such as Eun (은 | 恩 = kind) or Hyeon (현 | 賢 = virtuous).
Hanja adds an additional aspect to the meaning behind a name in Korean.
How to Pronounce Korean Names
The easiest way to pronounce Korean names is to learn the Korean alphabet (Hangeul). It takes about 1 hour and you will be able to pronounce names in Korean correctly.
You can also estimate their pronunciation by writing them out in English. The next section below will show you how to change Korean names to English letters.
How to Write Korean Names in English
If you need to convert a name from Hangeul to English letters, your best bet is to follow the standard Romanization of the Korean System. If you use these rules, you’ll reduce your chances of confusion.
|Hangeul||Romanized (First)||Romanized (Final)|
Let’s Romanize the name “윤민지” using the rules above.
윤 = Yun
민 = Min
지 = Ji
Put them together and you’ve got “Yun MinJi”.
You will definitely see variations on how Korean names are spelled in Romanized Korean, but that’s how it’s done according to the Romanization rules.
Why Korean Names in English Are Confusing
Let’s say you see a name in Korean written in Romanized Korean that looks like this:
Does this mean 재훈 (JaeHoon) or 재헌 (JaeHeon)?
This is a common problem that most Korean learners face with writing names in Korean using English letters. Koreans will use various combinations of English letters to spell their names in English depending on their personal preferences, so it’s hard to know how to pronounce their name in Korean until you ask or you make a mistake trying it.
Therefore, it’s easier and more precise to use Hangeul!
What is my Korean name?
If you’d like to know how to get a name in Korean, we have six methods you can use to create one.
Take a look through, try out the different methods, and hopefully, you’ll come out with a name in Korean you can start introducing yourself with starting tomorrow! Or just look at all the interesting names in Korea.
It’s going to be lots of fun.
Let’s get started!
Method 1: Write My Name in Korean
The first method you can use to make a name is not to make one at all! You can simply take your name and translate it into Korean based on the way it sounds. This is one of the most popular methods. If you’ll be in South Korea for a longer period, you’ll notice that official documents will do this with foreigner’s names. Doing this is often an important step for new residents beginning their life in Korea.
While this isn’t a Korean name per se, it is the first step you can take to make it easier for Koreans to pronounce and read your name. It makes them more comfortable trying to say your name and that means they’re happier to talk with you!
There are many situations when knowing your name’s spelling in Hangeul (the Korean Alphabet) will come in handy so you should always study that first.
If you don’t know the Korean characters, we can teach them to you fast with this post on the Hangeul (also spelled as Hangul).
When writing your name in Korean, it all comes down to vowel sounds. It’s important to sound out your name just right!
When you do this, sometimes an English name with only a few letters can be a bit long in Korean. It can make for some pretty interesting looking names when you see them in Korea!
Let’s take the English name “Michael” for example. First, we need to sound it out.
Break down the name into its component syllables.
For the first syllable, we need to think about which characters could make that ‘long i’ sound. No single Hangul character has that sound on its own.
How about 아 (ah) + 이 (i)? That sounds right. Let’s add in the “m” sound in front of the ㅏand we’ll be good to go!
First part: 마이 (Mai)
Now let’s focus on the second syllable. If you sound it out, it sounds more like “keul.”
As you may have learned from the 90 Minute Challenge, the Korean character that makes the “k” sound is ㅋ. It looks like a key! Let’s use that one.
The final step is to add in the “eul” sound. That’s easy! The Hangul character that makes the “eu” sound is ㅡ and the “l” ending we can make with ㄹ. Let’s stack them together.
Second part: 클 (keul)
There we have it, we’re all finished! We ended up with our name spelled like this:
This comes out to sound like “mai-keul“. Sometimes you’ll have to approximate the closest sound for your name.
Let’s take a look at some more common English names in South Korea as examples:
|Joseph (조셉)||Jenny (제니)|
|Peter (피터)||Amanda (아만다)|
|Tom (톰)||Sarah (사라)|
|Steve (스티브)||Angela (앤젤라)|
Go ahead and give it a try yourself! Break your English name into syllables. Work on deconstructing your name piece by piece.
There are also lists online that may have your name written out in Korean (if you have a common name).
If you know any Korean native-speakers you can also check your spelling with them. Even if your name isn’t common enough to be on a list, it may already be established in Korean and you don’t even know it!
Method 2: Use a Korean Name Generator
There are some Korean name generator applications and websites out there that can help you come up with a Korean name of your own.
Some of these Korean name generators use your real name to help create similar-sounding Korean names. There are some Korean name generators that use your birthday to create your name in Korean. Others seem to come up with a name at random — when you refresh the page, you’ve got a completely different name!
We don’t strongly recommend using Korean name generators because of the reasons above. The Korean name from the generator doesn’t necessarily have a deeper meaning to you. It just generates a common name.
However, you never know — you might just get a great-sounding Korean name that suits you. Or at the very least, it could be a good starting point for getting a name in Korean if you’re stuck.
For example, maybe you get a Korean first name you like but the Korean family name sounds strange to you. You could simply customize it yourself by swapping out the family name and putting in a common family name in Korea of your choice.
Here are a few Korean name generators that can be fun to play around with:
Method 3: Choose From a List of Names
Maybe choosing random names with the click of a button is not for you. Not to worry, there are other ways to continue your search!
When Koreans choose English names, they often choose the names of English-speaking stars that they admire.
Maybe you have a favorite K-pop star or Korean actor. You can start to get ideas for some names from them!
For example here is a list of the members from the popular Korean idol groups BTS (male) and BlackPink (female):
|민윤기 (슈가)||Min Yoon-gi (Suga)|
|정호석 (제이홉)||Jung Ho-seok (J-Hope)|
|김태형 (뷔)||Kim Tae-hyung (V)|
|박채영 (로제)||Park Chae-young (Rosé)|
Of course, you probably don’t want to take their full names including family name (imagine meeting a Korean who introduced himself as “Tom Cruise!”), but you could easily switch out the Korean surname to one of your choosing. As you may have noticed, many Korean names are gender-specific. While there are some names that are unisex, most names can be considered more masculine or feminine depending on how they’re made up. Using a list is a good way to get a sense of common names at the moment.
Baby Names for in South Korea
If you’re looking for male names, here is a list of the most popular baby names for boys from 2018 and 2017 in Korea:
Baby Names for Girls in South Korea
Here is another list of the most popular baby names from 2018 and 2017 in Korea:
South Korean Last Names
Last names are not as many, or as varied, in South Korea as those you’ll find in other countries. The father’s last name or surname is passed down to their children. However, interestingly enough, their wives often keep their last name or surname.
The top 3 common names (Kim, Lee, and Park) are by far the most popular and make up the vast majority of last names in South Korea. Check out this list of popular Korean surnames:
|Popular Last Names in South Korea (with frequency)|
|김||Kim||10 million+ people|
|이||Lee||7 million+ people|
|박||Park||4 million+ people|
|최||Choi||2.5 million+ people|
|정||Chung||2 million+ people|
|강||Kang||1 million+ people|
|조||Cho||1 million+ people|
If you need more inspiration, here are more links to lists of common South Korean names you can search through.
The first is just a list of Korean baby names, just like you often see on the internet for English names. They are romanized, however, so if you see one you like, you will have to change it into 한글 (Hangeul). That’s the fun part!
The second is a list of popular names like the ones above. You can see which names parents choose most often. Maybe this search will turn up one that suits you!
Just make sure you note the gender that name is usually associated with since that can have an impact on your first impression.
Method 4: Choose a Name That Sounds Like My Own Name
Another method for choosing a name in Korea is finding one that sounds like your native name.
This may require some help from a Korean native, but you can make use of the name lists and other resources to try for yourself.
For example, maybe your name is “Kimberly Johnson”. Through the name lists or with the help of a friend, you come up with the following name:
Some Korean learners may wish to choose a Korean last name that sounds similar to their given name in English! One member of our program named Joe chose the family name 조 (Cho) when making his name. He then just chose a modern and cool-sounding first name in Korea.
Method 5: Pick A Korean Name With Special Meaning
This method may also require some assistance from a Korean native friend but it’s a great way to come up with a name that has a story or meaning behind it, versus an arbitrarily chosen name.
Some names have special meanings. For example, these common names have the following meanings:
Girl’s name: 은하 galaxy
Girl’s name: 지혜 grace
Boy’s name: 승리 victory
If you know a Korean native, try asking them to help you come up with a name that has a special meaning in Korea.
Don’t have native-speaking friends? There are easy ways to make friends whether you’re in or outside of South Korea.
Many Koreans also care about a name’s meaning in Chinese characters and most of them use names that are Sino-Korean. This means added research, but can help you come up with a great name that is very meaningful.
Remember how we said Korean given names usually have three syllables?
Try looking up the meaning of each Hangeul syllable in Chinese characters or have someone assist you. This would help you have a cool backstory for the meaning of your Korean name and what it represents! Remember that most names in South Korea are Sino-Korean that use 한자 (hanja) or Chinese characters.
Method 6: Get A Korean Name Chosen By Professionals
90 Day Korean has a special paid naming service that will help you get a personalized name in Korean that is the best match for you.
When you purchase the service, you’ll take a short 15-minute course that will teach you the important elements of a Korean name. Then, you’ll fill out a short questionnaire about your background. Once you’re done, the Korean naming team will get back to you with some Korean name choices to fit your background and personality.
How to write my name in Korean
If you want to change your English name to Korean, you need to sound out each syllable in your name.
Let’s say your name is Gina.
The first sound is “G”, which is best matched to ㅈ. Next, we’ll need the ㅣ for the “I” sound. We’ve got 지.
For the second syllable, we’ll need the ㄴ for “N”. Finally, “A” is best represented by ㅏ.
Here is how we map the English letters to Korean letters:
- G – ㅈ
- I – ㅣ
- N – ㄴ
- A – ㅏ
Gina = 지나
Write my name in Korean example
Keep in mind that the number of syllables may not match. For example, if your name is 1 syllable in English, then it’s possible that it’s 3 syllables in Korean. Let’s take a look at the name Chris as an example.
If you start to sound out Chris, you’ll need to start with ㅋ. The next best match syllable would be ㅡ. The first syllable is 크.
Next, we need the “R” sound. The best Korean letter is ㄹ. We’ll need a vowel, and the best match for “I” is ㅣ. The second syllable is 리.
The final sound is “S”, so we’ll need ㅅ. Since all Korean syllables must have a vowel, we’ll use ㅡ at the end.
In this case, the English to Korean will look like this:
- Ch – 크
- Ri – 리
- S – 스
Chris = 크리스
The name Chris is one syllable in English, but three syllables in Korean!
Help Writing My Name in Korean
Please note: We can only reply to comments that follow all three steps below
If you’d like help with your name, our Korean language coaches will be happy to help in the comments section below!
Please follow these instructions. Be sure to follow each step carefully. After you’ve covered all three steps, add your comment below:
1. We’re all here to study and learn so try your best to translate your name in Korean (한글 | hangeul) first.
If you don’t know the Hangul, you can study the alphabet for free in 1 hour using this lesson. You can practice how to type in Korean here. (Example: If your name is Gina, then type “지나” in the comments)
2. Include the English pronunciation of your name, with dashes between syllables (Example: Gina would be “Jeen-uh”)
3. We will reply and make sure you have the correct way of writing your name in Korean.
A proper comment might look something like this:
“My name is Gina (Jeen-uh). Is 지나 the correct way to make my name?”
Regardless of which method you choose for coming up with your Korean name, it’s important to get feedback. Having a trusted ally on your side can make all the difference in the world to choosing the right-sounding name in Korean. Run your name by any Korean friends you may have or even those with some knowledge of Korea. You can also ask Koreans on your next trip to South Korea, it can be a great conversation starter.
We hope this will help get you off on the right track. Start by writing your English name in Hangeul. Then try coming up with a more native-sounding name.
Once you have a name in Korean, you use it when you introduce yourself in Korean. It’s an easy way to get started speaking Korean. Eventually, you can also master writing your name in Hangeul. Then you can level up by writing Korean sentences with your name on them.
With your new name in hand, you’re ready to get fully immersed in Korean culture!
Happy Korean naming!
Image Credit: Bigstock