Korean Names – List of Common First and Surnames

Last Updated on September 5, 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. If you don’t know it yet, you can always ask. 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
AraFemaleMeaning: Beautiful
AreumFemaleMeaning: Beautiful
AYeongFemaleMeaning: Refined
BoBaeFemaleMeaning: Treasure, precious
BomFemaleMeaning: Spring
BoRaFemaleMeaning: Purple color
ByeolFemaleMeaning: Star
ChoHeeFemaleMeaning: Beautiful, joy
DaehyunMaleMeaning: Wise man
DaeSeongMaleMeaning: Great success
DaEunFemaleMeaning: Young girl or Silver
DaJeoungFemaleMeaning: Loving and understanding
DoHyunMale or FemaleMeaning: An intelligent person
DonghyunMaleMeaning: A symbol of strength.
DoYoonMaleMeaning: A government post
DoYunFemaleMeaning: Lotus blossom
Eun AeFemaleMeaning: Grace and love
EunHeeFemaleMeaning: Wish
EunHyeFemaleMeaning: Grace
EunJeongFemaleMeaning: Warmth
EunJiFemaleMeaning: Wisdom or mercy
EunsuhFemaleMeaning: Mercy or west
EunYoungFemaleMeaning: Talent
GaHeeFemaleMeaning: Beauty or elegance
HanaFemaleMeaning: One
HaruFemaleMeaning: Spring
HaYoonMale or FemaleMeaning: Morality or richness
HeeJinFemaleMeaning: Honest
HyeJinFemaleMeaning: Bright
HyeonJeongFemaleMeaning: Virtuous or worthy
HyeonJuFemaleMeaning: Jewel or pearl
HyeonUMaleMeaning: Manifest or clear
HyunYoungFemaleMeaning: Able
IseulFemaleMeaning: Dew
JaehyunMaleMeaning: Wisdom
JangMiFemaleMeaning: Rose
JeongMale or FemaleMeaning: Gentle
JeongHuiMale or FemaleMeaning: Right or beauty
JiaFemaleMeaning: Clear or good
JiEunFemaleMeaning: Branch or kindness
JiHoMaleMeaning: Brave spirit

JiHooMale or FemaleMeaning: Wisdom or elegant
JiHyeFemaleMeaning: Intelligent
JiMinMale or FemaleMeaning: Gentle or jade
JinMale or FemaleMeaning: Jewel or truth
JinHwaFemale,MaleMeaning: Most wealthy
JinSolFemaleMeaning: Become a leader
JiSooMale or FemaleMeaning: Gorgeous
JiUMale or FemaleMeaning: Ambition or universe
JiWonMale or FemaleMeaning: First beautiful woman
JiYoungMale or FemaleMeaning: Honor

JiyunFemaleMeaning: Glossy
JooEunFemaleMeaning: Silver pearl
JooMiFemaleMeaning: Pretty
JoonMaleMeaning: Strict
JooYeonFemaleMeaning: Gentle or relaxed
JunAFemaleMeaning: Swift horse
JunHoMaleMeaning: Summer sky
JunwooMaleMeaning: Handsome
KiPpeumFemaleMeaning: Joyful
KyungHeeFemaleMeaning: Hope
MiHeeFemaleMeaning: Beautiful or joy
MinMale or FemaleMeaning: Jade
MinhoMaleMeaning: Fall sky
MinJiFemaleMeaning: Sharp or comprehend
MinSeoFemaleMeaning: Composed or People
NariFemaleMeaning: Lily
SaeRomFemaleMeaning: Bamboo
SangHoonMaleMeaning: Eternal or teach
SenaFemaleMeaning: Neatly
SeoHyeonFemaleMeaning: Felicitous omen or worthy
SeoJoonMaleMeaning: Slowly
SeokMaleMeaning: Tin
SeolFemaleMeaning: Snow
SeoYeonFemaleMeaning: Make clear

SeunghyunMale or FemaleMeaning: Succession
ShinMaleMeaning: Center or belief
SiWooMaleMeaning: Honest
SoHeeFemaleMeaning: Young or honest
Soo AFemaleMeaning: Talent or lofty
SoobinMale or FemaleMeaning: Sparkle
SooHoMaleMeaning: Guardian
SooJinMale or FemaleMeaning: Truth
SoominMale or FemaleMeaning: Smart
SooYeonFemaleMeaning: Lotus flower or lovely
SungMinMale or FemaleMeaning: Star or clever
TaeyeonFemaleMeaning: Proud or big
WookMaleMeaning: Dawn or rising sun
YeEunFemaleMeaning: Rainbow
YeJiFemaleMeaning: Study or Beautiful
YeJoonMaleMeaning: Trout or humble
YeonAhFemaleMeaning: Beauty or better
YeongMale or FemaleMeaning: Flower
YeRimFemaleMeaning: Azure
YooJinFemaleMeaning: Generous
YoonFemaleMeaning: Shine
YoonAhFemaleMeaning: Highly beauty
YuMiFemaleMeaning: Willow or beauty
YunSeoFemaleMeaning: Allow or lazy
YuriFemaleMeaning: 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)
-

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!

    4 replies to "Korean Names – List of Common First and Surnames"

    • Avatar for Honghui Honghui

      Fascinating, thank you.
      This will repay re-reading.

      홍희/Honghui

    • Avatar for Amulya Amulya

      Was so nice to read and learn about the Korean names thank you for sharing

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