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Do wives take their husband’s name in Korea?


In many cultures, it is customary for women to change their last name to that of their husband’s after marriage. While this tradition is widespread, it is not universal. In Korea, for example, the practice of taking a husband’s name is not as common. In this article, we will explore the reasons why Korean women may or may not change their surname after getting married.

Korean Naming Customs

Before we delve into the specifics of whether Korean women take their husband’s name, it’s important to understand how names work in Korea. In Korean culture, the family name comes first, followed by a given name. Family names are passed down through generations and are shared by all members of a family. This means that all siblings will have the same family name.

The Prevalence of Changing Names

While it is becoming more common for Korean women to take their husband’s name after getting married, it is still not a widespread practice. According to a survey conducted by the Korea Women’s Development Institute in 2015, only 5% of married women changed their last name to their husband’s.

Reasons Why Women May Not Take Their Husband’s Name

There are numerous reasons why Korean women may choose to keep their maiden name after getting married. One reason is that they want to maintain their identity and independence. Another reason is that they want to honor their parents and ancestors by keeping the family name.

Legal Implications

In Korea, changing one’s name requires a legal process that involves submitting an application to the government. This process can be time-consuming and expensive, which may deter some couples from changing their names.

Changing Attitudes

As with many cultural practices, attitudes towards changing names are evolving in Korea. Younger generations are more likely to embrace the idea of taking their husband’s name, while older generations may view it as unnecessary or even disrespectful to their family.

The Influence of Western Culture

As Korea becomes more globalized, the influence of Western culture is becoming more prominent. In many Western cultures, it is customary for women to take their husband’s name after marriage. Some Korean couples may adopt this practice as a way to align with Western cultural norms.

Alternative Naming Practices

While changing names is not a common practice in Korea, there are other ways that couples can symbolize their union. Some couples choose to hyphenate their last names, while others create a new last name that combines elements of both partners’ names.

Challenges for Foreigners

For foreigners who marry Koreans, navigating the naming customs can be confusing. Many countries have different naming conventions than Korea, which can lead to complications when it comes to official documents and legal processes.

The Role of Gender Equality

The issue of taking a husband’s name is often tied to broader issues of gender equality. Some argue that the expectation for women to change their names reinforces patriarchal values and perpetuates gender inequality. Others argue that it is a personal choice and should not be viewed through a political lens.


In conclusion, while taking a husband’s name is not as common in Korea as it is in other parts of the world, attitudes towards the practice are evolving. Ultimately, whether or not a woman chooses to change her name after marriage is a personal decision that should be respected. As with all cultural practices, it’s important to understand the reasons behind them and approach them with an open mind.

What is the Korean rule of marriage?

Currently, in South Korea, marriage is only allowed between individuals of opposite genders, and same-sex marriages are not recognized. However, individuals who are over the age of 18 (males) or 16 (females) are eligible to get married with the consent of their parents or guardians.

Do Koreans take their mothers last name?

Korea has many different family names, including 김(Kim), 이(Lee), 박(Pak), 최(Choi), and 정(Jung). Traditionally, babies take their father’s surname, but there are now some cases where children take their mother’s family name, though this is still relatively uncommon.

Do Koreans register their marriage?

The Affidavit of Eligibility of Marriage, along with other necessary documents, must be notarized and brought by both you and your fiancé/fiancée to your local district office (known as Gu Cheong in Korean) to register your marriage with the Korean government. An official translation of the documents is not necessary.

Can woman divorce her husband in Korea?

When both partners in a marriage agree to divorce, they can do so through mutual consent. However, if only one partner wants a divorce, the system requires them to provide a reason such as adultery or desertion. This is known as a fault-based divorce system.

Can Kim marry Kim in Korea?

For a long time, a law existed that prohibited individuals with the same surname and ancestral paternal origin from getting married. However, in 1997, South Korea’s Constitutional Court deemed the law unconstitutional, and in 2005, the civil code was revised to only prohibit marriages between closely related individuals.

Do wives in Korean take their husbands last name?

In Korean culture, names are composed of two components: the family name and the given name. Normally, children inherit their father’s surname, like in several other societies; however, Korean women do not take their husband’s surname when they get married.

It is worth noting that the issue of name-changing is not unique to Korea. In many cultures around the world, women are expected to take their husband’s name after marriage. However, this practice has become increasingly controversial in recent years, with some arguing that it reinforces gender stereotypes and erases women’s identities.

In contrast, others argue that taking a husband’s name is an important tradition that symbolizes the union between two families. They believe that it strengthens family ties and promotes unity, which is especially important in cultures that place a strong emphasis on family values.

Whatever one’s opinion on the matter may be, it is clear that the decision to change one’s name after marriage is a deeply personal one. It should be made based on individual beliefs, values, and circumstances, rather than societal expectations or pressure from others.

Ultimately, what matters most is that both partners in a marriage are respectful of each other’s choices and feel comfortable with whatever decision they make regarding their names. By approaching this issue with empathy and understanding, couples can navigate this tradition in a way that works best for them.

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