Korean Names – List of Common First and Surnames

Last Updated on May 1, 2022 by 90 Day Korean
Identification card with Hangul name written on it

In this article,  you will learn all about Korean names.

Knowing someone’s name is important to properly address the person. But it’s more than just that in the Korean culture.

Identification card with Hangul name written on it

Listed below are the different Korean last names and first names. We’ve also added the meaning of some of these names to help you have a better grasp of Korean names. Let’s get started!

List of Korean Names

Below are lists of common South Korean family names and Korean first names.

List of Korean last names

Here is a list of the top Korean last names in both English and Hangul, along with their meaning.

Korean Family NameHangulMeaning
KimMeaning: Metal, gold or iron
LeeMeaning: Plum tree
Park/BakMeaning: Gourd
GwanMeaning: Tube or pipe
JeongMeaning: Tablet or quiet
YangMeaning: Amount or positive
AnMeaning: Within
JinMeaning: Camp lost or a sign of the dragon
YooMeaning: Willow tree
HanMeaning: The One
Nam
Meaning: A Man or south
ChoMeaning: Second or beginning
YunMeaning: Cloud or luck
PaeMeaning: Loosely or The name of the 'Pae' clan
MaMeaning: Horse, hemp
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List of Korean first names

Below are the top Korean first names in English and Hangul. It also includes the meanings of these native Korean words.

NameHangulGenderMeaning
Ara아라FemaleMeaning: Beautiful
Areum아름FemaleMeaning: Beautiful
AYeong아영FemaleMeaning: Refined
BoBae보배FemaleMeaning: Treasure, precious
BomFemaleMeaning: Spring
BoRa보라FemaleMeaning: Purple color
ByeolFemaleMeaning: Star
ChoHee초희FemaleMeaning: Beautiful, joy
Daehyun대현MaleMeaning: Wise man
DaeSeong대성MaleMeaning: Great success
DaEun다은FemaleMeaning: Young girl or Silver
DaJeoung다정FemaleMeaning: Loving and understanding
DoHyun도현Male or FemaleMeaning: An intelligent person
Donghyun동현MaleMeaning: A symbol of strength.
DoYoon도윤MaleMeaning: A government post
DoYun도연FemaleMeaning: Lotus blossom
Eun Ae은애FemaleMeaning: Grace and love
EunHee은희FemaleMeaning: Wish
EunHye은혜FemaleMeaning: Grace
EunJeong은정FemaleMeaning: Warmth
EunJi은지FemaleMeaning: Wisdom or mercy
Eunsuh은서FemaleMeaning: Mercy or west
EunYoung은영FemaleMeaning: Talent
GaHee가희FemaleMeaning: Beauty or elegance
HanaFemaleMeaning: One
Haru하루FemaleMeaning: Spring
HaYoon하윤Male or FemaleMeaning: Morality or richness
HeeJin희진FemaleMeaning: Honest
HyeJin혜진FemaleMeaning: Bright
HyeonJeong현정FemaleMeaning: Virtuous or worthy
HyeonJu현주FemaleMeaning: Jewel or pearl
HyeonU현우MaleMeaning: Manifest or clear
HyunYoung현영FemaleMeaning: Able
Iseul이슬FemaleMeaning: Dew
Jaehyun재현MaleMeaning: Wisdom
JangMiFemaleMeaning: Rose
JeongMale or FemaleMeaning: Gentle
JeongHui정희Male or FemaleMeaning: Right or beauty
Jia지아FemaleMeaning: Clear or good
JiEun지은FemaleMeaning: Branch or kindness
JiHo지호MaleMeaning: Brave spirit

JiHoo지후Male or FemaleMeaning: Wisdom or elegant
JiHye지혜FemaleMeaning: Intelligent
JiMin지민Male or FemaleMeaning: Gentle or jade
JinMale or FemaleMeaning: Jewel or truth
JinHwa진화Female,MaleMeaning: Most wealthy
JinSol진솔FemaleMeaning: Become a leader
JiSoo지수Male or FemaleMeaning: Gorgeous
JiU지우Male or FemaleMeaning: Ambition or universe
JiWon지원Male or FemaleMeaning: First beautiful woman
JiYoung지영Male or FemaleMeaning: Honor

Jiyun지윤FemaleMeaning: Glossy
JooEun주은FemaleMeaning: Silver pearl
JooMi주미FemaleMeaning: Pretty
JoonMaleMeaning: Strict
JooYeon주연FemaleMeaning: Gentle or relaxed
JunA준아FemaleMeaning: Swift horse
JunHo준호MaleMeaning: Summer sky
Junwoo준우MaleMeaning: Handsome
KiPpeum기쁨FemaleMeaning: Joyful
KyungHee경희FemaleMeaning: Hope
MiHee미희FemaleMeaning: Beautiful or joy
MinMale or FemaleMeaning: Jade
Minho민호MaleMeaning: Fall sky
MinJi민지FemaleMeaning: Sharp or comprehend
MinSeo민서FemaleMeaning: Composed or People
Nari나리FemaleMeaning: Lily
SaeRom새롬FemaleMeaning: Bamboo
SangHoon상훈MaleMeaning: Eternal or teach
Sena세나FemaleMeaning: Neatly
SeoHyeon서현FemaleMeaning: Felicitous omen or worthy
SeoJoon서준MaleMeaning: Slowly
SeokMaleMeaning: Tin
SeolFemaleMeaning: Snow
SeoYeon서연FemaleMeaning: Make clear

Seunghyun승현Male or FemaleMeaning: Succession
ShinMaleMeaning: Center or belief
SiWoo시우MaleMeaning: Honest
SoHee소희FemaleMeaning: Young or honest
Soo A수아FemaleMeaning: Talent or lofty
Soobin수빈Male or FemaleMeaning: Sparkle
SooHo수호MaleMeaning: Guardian
SooJin수진Male or FemaleMeaning: Truth
Soomin수민Male or FemaleMeaning: Smart
SooYeon수연FemaleMeaning: Lotus flower or lovely
SungMin성민Male or FemaleMeaning: Star or clever
Taeyeon태연FemaleMeaning: Proud or big
WookMaleMeaning: Dawn or rising sun
YeEun예은FemaleMeaning: Rainbow
YeJi예지FemaleMeaning: Study or Beautiful
YeJoon예준MaleMeaning: Trout or humble
YeonAh연아FemaleMeaning: Beauty or better
YeongMale or FemaleMeaning: Flower
YeRim예림FemaleMeaning: Azure
YooJin유진FemaleMeaning: Generous
YoonFemaleMeaning: Shine
YoonAh윤아FemaleMeaning: Highly beauty
YuMi유미FemaleMeaning: Willow or beauty
YunSeo윤서FemaleMeaning: Allow or lazy
Yuri유리FemaleMeaning: Comfortable or glass bead

All About Korean Names

What’s in a name? Well, in 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 name in Korean that will make their child popular. They believe that names can determine their destiny.

Almost all names in Korean have a deeper meaning through Hanja characters (Chinese characters). These names are called Sino-Korean, but more on that later.

A mom and a dad playing with their baby

With a child’s future on the line, it’s important to come up with a good name in Korean. The family doesn’t necessarily choose a name because it’s popular, but will often choose one that means something in Korean.

How do South Korean Names Work?

You may have seen South Korean names before. Maybe you have a favorite K-pop star, K-drama character, Korean movie character, or Korean athlete. Do any of these popular Korean individuals ring a bell?

Kim Yuna  (김연아)

Lee Hyo-ri(이효리)

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.

김 = Kim (Surname)

민수 = Min-su (Given Name)

The name above is 김 민수 (Kim Min-su) with 김 (Kim) as the last name and 민수 (Min-su) as the given name.

Korean Name Structure

Korean names usually consist of three phonetic units or syllables. They’re made up of the last name and the first name with two syllables. Let’s look at an example name:

김민수

  • 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
  • Last name + first name: 김준

Three-Syllable First Name

  • First name: 빛이찬
  • Last 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

South Korean last names usually have a single syllable. However, sometimes there are two-syllable last names, but they are rare. Some examples are 사공 (Sa-gong) and 남궁 (Nam-gung)

In the culture in South Korea, it’s proper for the Korean family name to be written first. So the first character you see is the family name. 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 South Korean last names are 김, 박, 정, 윤, 문, 이, 최, and 강.

Korean Name Traditions

In South Korean culture, the same name (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 South Korean parents or a South Korean family to have a generational name.

Basically, a generational name syllable means a single Korean character with an individually distinct syllable (Hangul or Hanja characters) is shared within the family. Although this isn’t practiced as much in modern Korean names.

For example, it’s popular for parents in South Korea to name their kids with the same first syllable if the genders are the same, i.e. 지우 (Ji-woo) 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 a Chinese character 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

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. 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 South 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.

Consonant Characters

Below are the consonants included in the Korean alphabet:

HangeulRomanized (First)Romanized (Final)
r
-

Vowel Characters

Here is the complete list of Korean vowels:

English한국어 (Korean)
a
ae
ya
yae
eo
e
yeo
ye
o
wa
wae
oe
yo
u
wo
we
wi
yu
eu
ui
i

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 South Korean written in Romanized Korean that looks like this:

JaeHun

Does this mean 재훈 (JaeHoon) or 재헌 (JaeHeon)?

This is a common problem that most South Korean learners face with writing names in South 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!

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