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Do Koreans take their father’s last name?


Korea is a country with a rich cultural heritage, and one of the most interesting aspects of their culture is how they name themselves. In many countries, people take their father’s last name, but is this true for Koreans? This article will explore the intricacies of Korean naming conventions.

The Basics of Korean Names

In Korea, people have a given name and a family name. The family name is usually one syllable and comes first, followed by the given name. For example, Kim Jong-un’s family name is Kim and his given name is Jong-un. There are only about 250 family names in Korea, and the most common ones are Kim, Lee, and Park.

Patrilineal Naming in Korea

In Korea, traditionally, children take their father’s last name. This practice is known as patrilineal naming. However, things are changing in modern times as more women keep their own surnames after marriage.

Matrilineal Naming in Korea

In some cases, Koreans also take their mother’s last name. This practice is known as matrilineal naming. It’s not very common in Korea, but it does happen when the mother’s family has no male heir to carry on the family name.

How Women’s Names Change After Marriage

Traditionally in Korea, women would take their husband’s last name after marriage. However, this practice is becoming less common as more women choose to keep their own surnames. If a woman does take her husband’s last name, her given name will remain the same.

How Children’s Names Are Chosen

In Korea, children’s names are often chosen based on the meaning of the characters used to write them. Parents will choose characters that they feel represent good qualities or values they want their child to embody.

The Importance of Naming in Korean Culture

Naming is a very important part of Korean culture. It’s believed that a person’s name can have a significant impact on their life, so parents will often spend a lot of time and thought choosing the perfect name for their child.

Naming Laws in Korea

In Korea, there are laws governing how names can be chosen. For example, names cannot be too long or contain certain characters. This is to ensure that names are easy to read and write, and to prevent any offensive or inappropriate names from being used.

The Role of Family History in Naming

In Korea, family history is often taken into account when naming a child. For example, parents might choose a name that has been used in their family for generations. This helps to keep the family history alive and maintain a sense of continuity.

The Role of Social Status in Naming

In Korea, social status can also play a role in naming. For example, some names are associated with nobility or royalty, and these names are sometimes used by people who want to convey a sense of status or prestige.

Changing Names in Korea

In Korea, it’s possible for people to change their names if they wish. However, there are strict rules governing name changes, and the process can be quite complicated. For example, people must provide a valid reason for changing their name, and they must go through a legal process to do so.

The Future of Korean Naming Conventions

Korean naming conventions are evolving as society changes. While traditional practices like patrilineal naming are still common, more women are keeping their own surnames after marriage, and people are choosing names based on personal preferences rather than family history or social status. Only time will tell how Korean naming conventions will continue to evolve in the future.


Overall, naming conventions in Korea are complex and rich with meaning. While traditionally Koreans have taken their father’s last name, this is changing as society evolves. Naming is an important aspect of Korean culture, and it will be interesting to see how it continues to change in the future.

Do Koreans take mother or father surname?

In Korean tradition, women typically retain their family names even after getting married, while their children are given their father’s last name.

How are last names passed down in Korea?

In many cultures, the family name is passed down from the father and is shared among siblings. It precedes the given name and is typically only one syllable or character.

What surname do Korean children take?

Traditionally, babies are given their father’s last name at birth, but there have been some instances where children have taken their mother’s surname. It’s becoming more common for women to keep their own last name after marriage instead of taking their husband’s.

Why don t Koreans take their husbands last name?

Retaining one’s original surname after marriage was significant as it was viewed as a reflection of the family’s status in society. This custom was a way to honor the woman’s father’s lineage.

What is the Korean family rule?

In the past, Korean family structures were based on the Confucian system of relationships that emphasized the authority of the patriarch. This model required the husband/father to demonstrate both power and kindness towards his wife, in exchange for her obedience and love.

Do Koreans with same surname marry?

In Korea, a child takes on their father’s last name and it is considered taboo for individuals with the same last name and ancestral home, known as dongseong dongbon, to marry. This is a traditional practice in the country.

The Significance of Nicknames in Korea

In addition to their given names, many Koreans also have nicknames. These nicknames are often chosen by friends or family members and are based on personal characteristics or traits. Nicknames can be a way of showing affection or camaraderie, and they can also be used to convey a sense of familiarity or closeness.

The Influence of Western Naming Conventions

As Korea becomes more globalized, there has been an increasing influence of Western naming conventions. For example, some parents are choosing to give their children Western-style names, or combining Korean and Western names. Additionally, some Koreans are adopting English nicknames to use in international settings.

The Role of Astrology in Naming

In Korea, astrology is often taken into account when naming a child. Each year is associated with a different animal sign, and it’s believed that the characteristics associated with that sign can influence a person’s life. Parents might choose a name that reflects their child’s animal sign or incorporates auspicious characters associated with that sign.

The Importance of Pronunciation in Korean Naming Conventions

In Korea, the pronunciation of names is also important. Names that are difficult to pronounce or spell can be seen as a burden for the person who has to use them, so parents will often choose names that are easy to say and write. Additionally, the pronunciation of a name can also affect how it is perceived by others.

The Role of Honorifics in Korean Naming Conventions

In Korean culture, honorifics are an important part of social interactions. When addressing someone who is older or holds a higher position than you, it’s customary to use honorific titles like “ajumma” or “sunbae.” These titles can also be incorporated into a person’s name, indicating their social status or age.

The Significance of Naming Ceremonies

In Korea, naming ceremonies are an important tradition that dates back centuries. These ceremonies are often held on the 100th day after a child is born and involve the family gathering to choose a name for the child. The ceremony is seen as a way to welcome the child into the family and to give them a sense of identity and belonging.

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