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Korean Name Generator

Struggling with a novel? Need to name a Korean character but have no idea how to make sure you're getting it right? Solve your problem by using the Korean Name Generator!

About Korean Names

Like Chinese names, Korean names use a family surname followed by a given name, and this naming convention is used in both North and South Korea. There are two types of names that can be chosen – Sino-Korean, meaning names that originally come from Chinese characters, and Pure Korean, using only the Korean written language. Sino-Korean names are far more common, and parents will usually select them by choosing two original Chinese characters that have the pronunciation they want. This can give a tremendous variety and choice to potential parents, as Chinese characters can have multiple different meanings, despite ultimately sounding the same (for example, the Sino-Korean name 'So-young' can mean 'a bright and pure flower', as well as 'always pretty and intelligent'). The Korean government created the 'Table of Hanja (Chinese characters) for Personal Name Use' in 1991, which lists a total of 5038 Chinese characters that are permitted for use in Korean names.

The Korean naming system evolved under unusual circumstances. Before the late nineteenth century, in the Joseon period – which lasted for five centuries, from 1392 to 1897 – only aristocrats and royalty were permitted to have last names, while the rest of the population  (up to a third of whom were technically the 'slave' class, called nobi) were not allowed to do the same. This finally changed in the 1890s thanks to a series of social reforms that resulted in the transfer of power from the ruling Joseon dynasty, and the eventual founding of the Korean Empire in 1897.

As a result of this, however, when everybody was finally allowed to choose their own names, many chose those of previous ruling families in Korea, to distance themselves from their servile past. This is the reason why Kim, Lee, Park and Choi are such common family names in Korea – and in a 2000 census, those names accounted for almost fifty per cent of the entire population of Korea. In 2015, the most popular boy's name was Han-gyeol, while for girls it was Sarang.

For non-Koreans, it can often be difficult to tell someone's gender purely from their name, although certain clues can help, like 'Hoon' and 'Seok' being more commonly used in men's names, while 'Kyung' and 'Mi' are more often used for women. Also, there are very strict rules about using people's given names in Korea – it's okay if they are the same age as you, but if they are just a year older, using a given name can cause serious offence, so caution is advised!