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Can Koreans marry someone with the same family name?


Korean culture is known for its strong emphasis on family and tradition. One of the most intriguing cultural practices in Korea is the restriction on marrying someone with the same family name. This practice has been in place for centuries and continues to be followed by many Koreans today. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this practice and whether it is still relevant in modern society.

History of Family Names in Korea

In Korea, family names hold great importance and are passed down from generation to generation. The use of family names dates back to the Three Kingdoms period (57 BC – 668 AD), when people started to adopt surnames to distinguish themselves from others. Over time, the number of surnames decreased, and today, there are only about 300 Korean family names in use.

Why Marrying Someone with the Same Family Name is Restricted

The restriction on marrying someone with the same family name comes from the traditional belief that people with the same surname are related by blood and therefore cannot marry each other. This belief stems from Confucianism, which emphasizes the importance of maintaining family lineage and preserving blood ties.

The Legal Aspect

In Korea, marrying someone with the same family name is not illegal, but it is strongly discouraged by law. According to the Civil Code, a man and a woman who share the same surname and ancestral home cannot legally marry each other unless they can prove that they are not related by blood within a certain degree.

The Social Stigma

Even though marrying someone with the same family name is not illegal, it is still considered taboo in Korean society. It is seen as a violation of social norms and can lead to social ostracism. The couple may face discrimination and criticism from their families, friends, and community.

The Exceptions to the Rule

There are some exceptions to the rule of not marrying someone with the same family name. For example, if a woman marries into a family with the same surname as hers, she may keep her original surname. Also, if a couple has different romanized spellings of the same Korean surname, they may be allowed to marry.

Changing Your Name

If two people with the same family name want to marry each other, they can legally change their surname to a new one that is not already in use. However, this process can be time-consuming and expensive.

The Relevance of the Practice Today

In modern society, the practice of not marrying someone with the same family name is becoming less relevant. With globalization and increased mobility, Koreans are meeting and marrying people from different backgrounds and cultures. Also, many young Koreans are choosing not to follow traditional customs and are marrying for love rather than family lineage.

Alternative Views

Some people believe that the restriction on marrying someone with the same family name is outdated and discriminatory. They argue that it goes against the principles of individual freedom and choice. Others believe that it is still important to maintain family lineage and that marrying someone with the same surname can lead to confusion and complications in genealogy.

The Future of Family Names in Korea

As Korea becomes more diverse and globalized, the importance of family names may diminish. Some experts predict that in the future, more Koreans will have non-Korean names or adopt Western-style naming conventions. This could lead to a loosening of traditional restrictions on marriage between people with the same family name.


The restriction on marrying someone with the same family name is a longstanding tradition in Korea that has its roots in Confucianism. While it is still followed by many Koreans today, it is becoming less relevant in modern society. Whether or not to follow this practice is ultimately a personal decision that should be based on individual beliefs and values.

Why was it illegal in Korea to marry someone with the same last name?

For many years, South Korea has had a law that prohibits couples with the same surname and ancestral village from getting married. Though it was likely intended to prevent incestuous relationships, it has evolved into a strong cultural rejection of same-clan marriages. This law has been in place since September 11, 1996.

Can you marry someone with same family name?

If neither of you are related within the prohibited degrees of relationship, then there are no legal obstacles to getting married. This was confirmed on January 16, 2018.

Do Korean brides take their husband’s last name?

In Korean culture, names are composed of a family name and a given name. Typically, a child’s last name is inherited from their father, as is common in many other cultures. However, unlike some cultures, Korean women do not change their surname to that of their husband’s after marriage.

Can you date someone with the same last name as you?

Assuming they are not closely related biologically, which would be illegal in many countries, people with the same last name can certainly marry. In fact, there are countless individuals all around the world who share the same last name but are unrelated genetically.

Can Kim marry Kim in Korea?

For a long time, there was a law that prohibited marriage between individuals with the same last name and paternal ancestral origin. However, in 1997, South Korea’s Constitutional Court declared the law unconstitutional, and in 2005, the civil code was modified to only prohibit marriage between closely related individuals.

Is it true that the first son in Korea can t marry a foreigner?

Many Koreans oppose their eldest son marrying a foreigner because it is believed they must maintain the family line by marrying someone of Korean descent. Consequently, interracial relationships are not yet widely accepted in Korean society.

It is worth noting that the restriction on marrying someone with the same family name is not unique to Korea. Similar practices exist in other cultures around the world, including China, Japan, and Vietnam. In these societies, family lineage and blood ties are also highly valued, and marrying someone from the same family is often seen as taboo.

Despite the dwindling importance of family names in Korea, they still hold significant cultural and historical value. Family names are a source of identity and pride for many Koreans, representing their connection to their ancestors and their place in society. Many Koreans also believe that their family name can influence their personality and destiny.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement in Korea to expand the options for family names. Some people argue that the limited number of surnames is a barrier to individual expression and creativity. They propose allowing Koreans to choose their own surnames or create new ones based on their personal preferences or life experiences.

Overall, the restriction on marrying someone with the same family name is a complex issue that reflects the intersection of tradition, culture, and law in Korean society. As Korea continues to evolve and adapt to changes in the world, it will be interesting to see how this practice evolves as well.

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