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What is the most common last name in Korea?

The Most Common Last Name in Korea


Korean culture is steeped in tradition and history, making it a fascinating place to explore. One aspect of Korean culture that stands out is the prevalence of certain surnames. In this article, we will explore the most common last name in Korea and its significance.

History of Names in Korea:

Before we dive into the most common last name in Korea, it’s important to understand the history of names in the country. Korean names traditionally have three parts: a family name (surname), a middle name, and a given name. However, many Koreans only use their given names in everyday situations. The use of surnames is said to have begun during the Silla dynasty (57 BCE-935 CE).

The Top Three Last Names in Korea:

As of 2021, there are over 270 surnames in use in Korea. However, three of them account for more than half of the population: Kim, Lee, and Park. These three names have been dominant for centuries and show no signs of losing their popularity anytime soon.

The Origin of Kim:

The most common last name in Korea is Kim. It is estimated that around 20% of Koreans have this surname. The origin of the name is not entirely clear, but one theory states that it comes from a royal family that ruled the Gaya confederacy (42-562 CE).

The Origin of Lee:

The second most common last name in Korea is Lee, which accounts for approximately 15% of the population. The name has several possible origins, including being derived from a place name or a clan name. However, one theory suggests that it comes from an ancient Chinese surname.

The Origin of Park:

The third most common last name in Korea is Park, which is used by around 8% of the population. Its origins are still a matter of debate, but some scholars believe that it comes from a clan that was based in present-day China.

The Significance of Last Names in Korean Society:

In Korean society, one’s surname is an important part of their identity. It can indicate a person’s social status, family history, and even their occupation. In the past, people with certain surnames were more likely to be given certain jobs or opportunities.

The Future of Korean Last Names:

Despite the dominance of Kim, Lee, and Park, there are many other surnames in use in Korea. Some of these names are becoming more popular as people seek to differentiate themselves from the crowd. It will be interesting to see how the popularity of different surnames changes over time.

The Importance of Family Names in Other Cultures:

While Korean culture places a lot of emphasis on family names, it’s worth noting that other cultures have their own naming traditions. For example, in many Western countries, people have only one surname that is passed down from their father’s family.

The Role of Names in Identity Formation:

Regardless of cultural differences, names play an important role in shaping our identities. Our names are often one of the first things people learn about us, and they can influence how we see ourselves and how others perceive us.


In conclusion, Kim is the most common last name in Korea, followed by Lee and Park. These three surnames have deep roots in Korean history and culture and continue to be popular today. While names are just one aspect of our identities, they can hold a great deal of significance and meaning.

Is Lee Chinese or Korean?

Li or Lee ([lì]; Chinese: 李; pinyin: Lǐ) is a popular surname in the Chinese language and is the fourth name listed in the well-known Hundred Family Surnames. With over 92.76 million people in China and over 100 million people in Asia sharing this surname, Li is one of the most commonly used surnames in the region.

What is the oldest Korean last name?

The surname Han has a long history in Korea and can be traced back to the time of Gojoseon, making the Han clan the oldest surname in Korea dating back to around 5000 years ago. The Han clan also played a prominent role in ruling Gojoseon and Mahan.

Is Kim the most common Korean last name?

Around 20% of South Korea’s population, estimated at 49.3 million in 2015, have the surname Kim, which equates to approximately 10 million individuals. The second most common surname is Lee, followed by Park (or Pak) in third place. Overall, almost 45% of Koreans possess one of these three surnames. The prevalence of the Kim surname is particularly noteworthy, but the reason for this is unclear.

What is a rich Korean name?

Chin-hwa is a Korean name that means “the most wealthy.”

Why is everyone named Kim in Korean?

Due to the fact that names like Lee and Kim were commonly used by the royal family in ancient Korea, they became a popular choice for people from rural areas and eventually became common surnames for the general population.

Can Lee marry a Lee in Korea?

According to South Korea’s Family Law Article 809, individuals who share the same family name and place of origin are prohibited from marrying, as they are believed to belong to the same clan and share a common male ancestor. This law was established on March 17, 1992.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in genealogy and tracing family histories in Korea. This has led to more people exploring their ancestral roots and discovering lesser-known surnames that may have been lost over time.

Additionally, with the rise of multiculturalism and international marriages, there are more families with mixed surnames in Korea than ever before. This has resulted in new combinations of last names, such as Kim-Lee or Park-Jones, which reflect the blending of different cultures and traditions.

Despite these changes, surnames continue to hold a significant place in Korean society. In fact, it is not uncommon for people to ask for someone’s surname before even their first name in order to determine their social status and background.

Overall, the most common last name in Korea is just one aspect of the country’s rich cultural heritage. As Korea continues to evolve and adapt to changing times, it will be interesting to see how the role of surnames and family names continues to shape the nation’s identity.

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