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Do Koreans marry people with the same last name?


Korea is known for its cultural richness and traditions. One of the most commonly asked questions about Korean culture is whether or not Koreans marry people with the same last name. In this article, we will explore the history behind this tradition and its relevance in modern-day Korea.

History of Last Names in Korea

In Korea, last names are passed down from generation to generation. The country has a limited number of surnames, with the three most common being Kim, Lee, and Park. Historically, Koreans believed that people with the same last name were related by blood and therefore could not marry.

Ban on Same-Name Marriage

In 1997, the South Korean government lifted the ban on same-name marriage. The ban had been in place since the 15th century and was intended to prevent incestuous relationships. However, as society modernized, people began to question the relevance of the ban.

Controversy Surrounding Same-Name Marriage

Although the ban has been lifted, many Koreans still choose not to marry someone with the same last name. Some believe that it goes against traditional values while others see it as a way to prevent confusion within families.

Modern-Day Attitudes Towards Same-Name Marriage

In recent years, attitudes towards same-name marriage have become more relaxed. In a survey conducted by Gallup Korea in 2019, 63% of respondents said that they would be open to marrying someone with the same last name.

Family Registers

In Korea, family registers (or hojuje) are used to keep track of family lineage. When two people with the same last name get married, their family registers are combined. This can cause confusion when it comes to inheritance and family relationships.

Alternative Solutions

To avoid confusion, some couples choose to legally change one of their last names before getting married. Others opt for a hyphenated last name or choose to keep their own last names.

International Marriages

In recent years, Korea has seen an increase in international marriages. When marrying someone from a different country, the issue of same-name marriage is not relevant.

Same-Name Marriage in Other Countries

Although it may seem strange to some, same-name marriage is not unique to Korea. In Iceland, for example, people with the same last name often marry since the country has a small population and limited number of surnames.

Impact on Society

The issue of same-name marriage highlights the tension between tradition and modernization in Korean society. While some cling to traditional values, others are open to change. As society continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how attitudes towards same-name marriage develop.


In conclusion, while the ban on same-name marriage has been lifted in Korea, many still choose not to marry someone with the same last name. The issue highlights the tension between traditional values and modernization in Korean society. As attitudes towards same-name marriage continue to evolve, it will be interesting to see how this tradition changes in the future.

Why don t Koreans take their husbands last name?

In the past, it was customary for a woman to keep her original surname after getting married, as it was seen as a way to maintain the social standing of her family. This practice was a way to honor and preserve the lineage of the woman’s father.

Is it OK to marry someone with the same last name?

Yes, it is possible for two people with the same name to get married, as long as they did not both receive the name from the same father. Many people share the same name, even if they are not related. Some names are very common and do not indicate a familial relationship. Additionally, in many places, it is legal to marry one’s cousin.

When a foreigner marries a Korean do they take their last name?

In Korea, it is not customary to change surnames after marriage. Women who get married do not have to adopt their husband’s family name. This practice is not part of Korean culture.

Can Kim marry Kim in Korea?

For a long time, it was illegal in South Korea for individuals with the same surname and paternal heritage to get married. However, in 1997, the Constitutional Court declared this law unconstitutional, and in 2005, the civil code was revised to only prohibit marriage between closely related individuals.

What are the rules for marriage in Korea?

In South Korea, only opposite-sex marriages are recognized, while same-sex marriages are prohibited. Individuals over the age of 18 for males and 16 for females may marry with the permission of their parents or guardians.

What is the Korean law on marriage?

In Korea, marriage is a legal process that does not require a religious ceremony. While a religious ceremony may hold emotional significance, it does not establish a legal marriage. Unlike in the United States, where marriage laws vary by state, a Korean marriage recognized by Korean law is valid in all U.S. states.

It is important to note that the issue of same-name marriage is not just a matter of personal preference or tradition. It also has legal implications, particularly when it comes to inheritance and property rights. In Korea, family registers are used to determine these rights, and when two people with the same last name get married, their family registers are combined. This can lead to confusion and disputes over inheritance, especially if there are multiple branches of the same family with the same last name.

Another factor to consider is the gender imbalance in Korea. Due to a cultural preference for male children and a low birth rate, there are more men than women in the country. This has led to a phenomenon known as the “marriage squeeze,” where men have difficulty finding wives. In this context, some argue that allowing same-name marriage could be a way to increase the pool of potential partners for men.

However, others argue that such an approach would be shortsighted and would not address the underlying issues of gender inequality and discrimination against women in Korean society. Instead, they advocate for policies that promote gender equality and empower women to make their own choices about whom to marry.

Overall, the issue of same-name marriage in Korea is complex and multifaceted. It raises questions about tradition, modernization, gender equality, and legal rights. As attitudes towards marriage continue to evolve in Korean society, it will be important to consider these issues and find ways to address them in a fair and equitable manner.

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