Korean name

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Korean names today have different rules than they had in the past. And, this article mainly covers South Korea's. The North Korean one could be different.

Number of parts of a name[change | change source]

Korean names have two parts. One is the family name and the other is the given name.

"Park Chan-Ho" is a name of a Korean person. Park is the family name, and Chan-Ho is the given name. In the Korean language, the family name comes first, and the given name comes second. (It is like writing Smith John, instead of John Smith.) Most Koreans feel uneasy when they are called in the reverse way or by only family name.

Marriage and children[change | change source]

Married men and women usually keep their full personal names, and children take the father's family name. So, a son of Ha Hi-Ra (female) and Choi Su-Jong (male) will be Choi something.

Nicknames[change | change source]

Although Koreans have nicknames, these usually come from their personal characteristics like appearance, a physical defect, or the word has similar pronunciation with his name. They are different from the nicknames in the Western sense such as Bob, Bill, Liz and Kate. Unfavorable nicknames are more common than favorable ones. After growing up, being called by nicknames is very rare.

The way of addressing someone[change | change source]

For the very first time or in a formal situation[change | change source]

Koreans call someone with Si (氏 means Mr., Mrs. or Miss, the most universal), Yang (孃 means Miss, in case of the younger person than the speaker), Goon (it means Mr., in case of the younger person than the speaker) after the family name, the given name or the full name.

Between close relationships[change | change source]

In case of the younger person than the speaker[change | change source]

Koreans call someone by only the given name itself or with the vocative postpositional word (Ya - In case the last syllable is open, or A - In case the last syllable is closed)

In case of the older person than the speaker[change | change source]

Koreans call someone with 형 (Hyeong, in case a male person calls the older male person than him) 누나 (Nu-na,in case a male person calls the older female person than him), 오빠 (O-ppa,in case a female person calls the older male person than her), 언니 (Eon-ni, in case a female person calls the older female person than her) after the given name.

Between family members[change | change source]

In case of the younger person than the speaker[change | change source]

Koreans call someone by only the given name itself or with the vocative postpositional word (Ya - In case the last syllable is open, or A - In case the last syllable is closed)

In case of the older person than the speaker[change | change source]

Koreans call someone using the word indicates blood relation than their name itself

ex) 아버지 (A-beo-ji, means father), 아빠 (A-ppa, means dad in a casual way), 어머니 (Eo-meo-ni, means mother), 엄마 (eom-ma, means mom like "dad" in Korean), 형 (hyeong, means male's elder brother), 누나 (Nu-na, male's elder sister), 오빠 (O-ppa, means female's elder brother), 언니 (Eon-ni, female's elder sister), 남동생 (Nam-Dong-Saeng, means the younger brother of a person regardless of the person's gender), 여동생 (Yeo-Dong-Saeng, means the younger sister of a person regardless of the person's gender)

In the workplace[change | change source]

Koreans call someone using the job title than his name.

Let me give you examples using the words, 사장 (Sa-Jang, means the president of a company) and 과장 (Gua-Jang, the head of a department)

In case of the lower ranked person than the speaker[change | change source]

Koreans call someone with the job title after his family name.

ex) 박과장 (Park Gua-Jang)

In case of the higher ranked person than the speaker[change | change source]

Koreans call someone plus 님 (Nim, the suffix showing respect) after the job title or by the combination like the family name + the job title + Nim

ex) 사장님 (Sa-Jang Nim), 과장님 (Gua-Jang Nim) or 박과장님 (Park Gua-Jang Nim)

Lengths, pronunciations, etc.[change | change source]

The family name is typically a single syllable, and the given name two syllables. There is no middle name in the Western sense. Each syllable in Korean name (including family names) usually has its Chinese character. But its pronunciation is considerably different from the one in China. In case of the given name, Koreans place great importance on the meaning of each Chinese character. And, mainly, naming centers take charge of naming a new baby.