Korean Names: A How-to Guide to Choose Your Very Own Name in Korean

Illustration of boy thinking of how to write his name in Korean

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 them. Take a look at the 6 methods below, and choose the one that you like best!

Illustration of boy thinking of how to write his name in Korean

If you’re looking for a professionally chosen Korean name that fits your personality then be sure to check out our Korean Naming Service.

Also, we’ve created a free PDF version of this guide to take with you on the go.

All About Korean Names

Illustration of a bearded father cradling a baby

What’s in a name? Well, in Korea — quite a bit actually!

Many Korean parents will spend a lot of time and money to come up with the perfect name for their child. They believe that a person’s name can determine their destiny.

With a child’s future on the line, it’s important to come up with a good name.

If you’re not used to pronouncing Korean names it’s best to brush up on that before diving in!

As an expat living or traveling in Korea (or even living in your home country and interacting with Koreans), it’s easy to notice a barrier at times due to cultural differences. 

Having a Korean name is a great way to break the ice with Koreans 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 Korean name. It sounds familiar to them!

Even if you don’t know where to start, making your name into Korean is very worth it.

While it can be tough to come up with the perfect name, we’re going to help point you in the right direction so that it becomes much easier. 

Can't read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 60 minutes!

How do Korean Names Work?

You may have seen Korean names before. Maybe you have a favorite K-pop star, Korean drama character or athlete. Any of these names ring a bell?

Kim Yuna is a famous Korean name

Kim Yuna

Kim Yuna  (김연아)

Lee Hyo-ri(이효리)

Lee Min-ho (이민호)

Bae Yong-joon (배용준)

As you can see, most Korean names have three syllables.

There are some names with more and some with less, but the large majority of names have three.

You should try to stick with three as well when coming up with a Korean name for yourself. It’ll make it much easier for your Korean friends and acquaintances that way.

In Korean, the surname is written first. So the first syllable you see is the family name. By far the most common Korean surnames are 김 (Kim), 이 (Lee) and 박 (Park).

Korean Name Structure

The second two syllables you see are the given name. The name above is 김 민수 (Kim Min-su).

Here are some more fun facts about Korean names. You can use them to help you choose your Korean name, or to impress your friends with your knowledge of Korea!

  1. Korean family names are usually one syllable. However, sometimes there are two syllable family names, but they are rare. Some examples are 사공 (Sa-gong) and 남궁 (Nam-gung)
  2. There are about 250 family names in Korea. The most common family names 김 (Kim), 최 (Choi), 이 (Lee), 박 (Park) make up over half of all family names here
  3. The same given name is usually not passed down from generation to generation (i.e. from father to son, mother to daughter)
  4. Parents will sometimes 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)
  5. Although the first names (given names) of Koreans are typically two syllables, it is possible to have one syllable for example 삭 (Park) and three syllable names, like 빛나리 (Bit-nari)

Great Methods for Making a Name

Illustration of a young blonde man in a red shirt shaking hands with a tall black-haired bearded man in a black shirt

We’ve come up with six methods you can use to make your very own Korean name. 

Take a look through, try out the different methods, and hopefully you’ll come out with a Korean name you can start introducing yourself with starting tomorrow! 

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 Korean name is not to make one at all! You can simply take your name and write it in Korean based on the way it sounds.

While this isn’t a Korean name per se, it is a 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 Korean will come in handy so you should always learn to do this first.

If you can’t yet read Korean or don’t know the Korean characters, you can learn them fast using our advice for learning the Hangeul.

When writing your name in Korean, it all comes down to vowel sounds. It’s important to sound it out just right! 

When you do this, sometimes an English name with only a few letters can have many syllables in Korean. 

Let’s take the English name “Michael” for example. To write it in Korean, we need to sound it out. 

The first thing we could do is break it into two syllables.

Two syllables of Michael

For the first syllable, we need to think which Korean characters could make that ‘long i’ sound. No single Korean 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 and 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 character that makes the “k” sound is . It looks like a key! Let’s use that one.

The final step is to add in the “eul” sound. That’s easy! The Korean character that makes the “eu” sound is ㅡ and the “l” ending we can make with . Let’s stack them together.

Second part: 클 (keul)

There we have it, we’re all finished! We ended up with three syllables:

마이클

This comes out to sounding like “mai-keul” in Korean. Sometimes you’ll have to approximate the closest sound for your name.

Let’s take a look at some more common names in English as examples:

BoysGirls
  
Joseph (조셉)Jenny (제니)
Peter   (피터)Amanda  (아만다)
Tom  (톰)Sarah (사라)
Steve (스티브)Angela (앤젤라)

Go ahead and give it a try yourself! Write out your name in English and then break it into syllables. Work on deconstructing it piece by piece.

There are also lists online that may have your name written out, that is if you have a common name.

If you know any native Koreans you can also check your spelling with them. Your name may already have an established way to write it in Korean, even if you don’t know it!

Method 2: Use a Korean Name Generator

5 Adolescents happily using smartphones

There are some applications and websites out there that can help you come up with a Korean name of your own.

Some use your real name to help generate a similar-sounding Korean name, while some use your birthday.  Others seem to come up with a Korean name at random — when you refresh the page, you’ve got a completely different name!

Those are the main reasons we recommend against using this method. It doesn’t necessarily have a deeper meaning to you.

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 if you’re stuck.

For example, maybe you get a first name you like but the surname sounds strange to you. You could simply customize it yourself by swapping out the surname and putting in one of your choice.

Here are a few apps that can be fun to play around with:

AndKPOP’s Get Your Korean Name Facebook Application

Korean Name Generator

Auto Korean Name Generator Application

Random Profile – South Korea

Method 3: Choose My Korean Name From a List

wordcloud of popular Korean names from 2017

Choosing a random name with the click of a button not for you?

When Koreans choose English names, they often choose the names of English-speaking stars that they admire.

Maybe you have a favorite KPOP star or actor. You can start to get name ideas from them!

For example here are the names of the members of the idol groups BTS (male) and BlackPink (female):

BTS (male) 
김석진Kim Seok-jin
민윤기 (슈가)Min Yoon-gi (Suga)
정호석 (제이홉)Jung Ho-seok (J-Hope)
김남준Kim Nam-joon
박지민Park Ji-min
김태형 (뷔)Kim Tae-hyung (V)
전정국Jeon Jung-kook
  
BlackPink (female) 
김지수Kim Ji-soo
김제니Jennie Kim
박채영 (로제)Park Chae-young (Rosé)
리사Lisa (Thai)

Of course, you probably don’t want to take their entire name including family name (imagine meeting a Korean who introduced himself as “Tom Cruise!”), but you could easily switch out the surname to one of your choosing. 

Korean Boy Names

If you’re looking for Korean male names, here is a quick list of the most popular ones from 2018 and 2017:

서준Seo-joon
하준 Ha-joon
도윤 Do-yoon
시우 Si-woo
지호 Ji-ho
민준 Min-joon
예준 Yae-joon
주원 Joo-won
은우Eun-woo
서진Seo-jin
유준Yoo-joon
준우Joon-woo

Korean Girl Names

Here are some more ideas from the most popular Korean female names from 2018 and 2017:

하윤Ha-yoon
서윤Seo-yoon
서연Seo-yeon
하은Ha-eun
지유Ji-yoo
지안Ji-an
서아 Seo-ah
하린 Ha-rin
수아 Su-ah
지우Ji-woo

Korean Family Names

Korean surnames are not as many, or as varied, as those you’ll find in other countries. The father’s family name is passed down to their children. However, interestingly enough, their wives often keep their family name.

The top 3 names (Kim, Lee, and Park) make up the vast majority of surnames in South Korea.

Popular Korean Family Names (with frequency)
Kim10 million+ people
Lee7 million+ people
Park4 million+ people
Choi2.5 million+ people
Chung2 million+ people
Kang1 million+ people
Cho1 million+ people
Yoon900,000+ people
Chang900,000+ people
Lim800,000+ people

More Lists

If you need more inspiration, here are more links to lists of Korean names.

The first is just a list of baby names 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! 

List of Korean Names

The second is a list of popular Korean names like the ones above. You can see which names parents choose most often. Maybe you’ll find one that suits you! 

Popular Korean Names

Method 4: Choose a Korean Name That Sounds Like My Own Name

Another method for choosing a Korean name is finding a Korean name that sounds like your native name.

This may require some help from a Korean, 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 from the help of a Korean friend, you come up with the following name:

korean name example

Some people may wish to choose a last name that sounds similar to their given name in English! One student named Joe chose the surname 조 when making his Korean name. He then just chose a modern and cool-sounding given name in Korean. 

Be creative!

Method 5: Pick A Korean Name With Special Meaning

This method may also require some assistance from a Korean friend but it’s a great way to come up with a Korean name that has a story or meaning behind it, versus an arbitrarily chosen name.

Some names in Korean have special meanings. For example, these common names in Korean have the following meanings:

Girl’s name: 은하 galaxy
Girl’s name: 지혜 grace
Boy’s name: 승리 victory

Cool!

If you know a Native Korean, try asking them to help you come up with a name that has a special meaning.

Don’t have Korean friends? There are easy ways to make Korean friends whether you’re in Korea or outside Korea.

Many Koreans also care about a name’s meaning in Chinese characters. This means added research, but can help you come up with a great Korean name that is very meaningful.

Remember how we said Korean names usually have three syllables?

Try looking up the meaning of each Korean syllable in Chinese characters or have someone assist you. This would help you have a cool backstory for the meaning of your name and what it represents! 

Method 6: Get A Korean Name Chosen By Professionals

90 Day Korean Naming Service

90 Day Korean has a special paid naming service that will help you get a personalized Korean name that is the best match for you.

If you have any other recommendations for Korean naming services, please let us know in the comments and we’ll add it to this page. 

 

I Need 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 Korean name, our Korean coaches will be happy to help in the comments section below!

Please follow these instructions. Be sure to read each step carefully. After you’ve read all three steps, add your comment below:

1. We’re all here to learn Korean so try your best to sound out and write your name in Korean (한글) first.

If you can’t read Korean, you can learn the Korean alphabet for free in 1 hour using this guide.  You can learn 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 comment might look something like this:

“My name is Gina (Jeen-uh). Is 지나 the correct way to write it in Korean?”

Wrap Up

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. 

This guide will help get you off on the right track. Start by writing your English name in Korean characters. Then try coming up with a more Korean sounding name.

This will be a fantastic starting point and you may wish to stop there!

For those of you that want an authentic-sounding Korean name, however, you can continue and try the other methods.

With your Korean name in hand, you’re ready to get fully immersed in your Korean studies.

Illustration of happy children jumping up in the air

Happy naming!

 

Image Credit: Bigstock

    606 replies to "Korean Names: A How-to Guide to Choose Your Very Own Name in Korean"

    • Riviera

      Hi there was wondering if it will be possible to get some help on finding myself a Korean name that best fits me. My first name has me trivial as the pronunciation is (Ri-vi-era) I did try all your methods but still couldn’t get the right fit. I did try the sounding out method and got 리비에라

    • Jeffrey

      Hi 90 Day Korean This page is really helpful, and it helps me alot, i love this page, after i saw this site i created my own korean name, by the way my name is Jeffrey and I made my own hanguel name 박 진 현 “Park Jin Hyeon” Park means Magnolia Tree, Jin means Precious and Hyeon Means Worthy right Please Rate It 감사합니다 🙂

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