Korean Names

Some of my readers had asked me through e-mails regarding Korean names. Most of them had asked me the meaning of the names of Korean idols.

Basically, Korean names comprise of the surname/family name or seong(성/姓) in Korean, usually one character.  Exception includes Dok Go ( 독고), Namgoong (남궁) and more. Given names are usually Hanja based. Therefore, to understand Korean names, we ought to know what is the true meaning of the Hanja (Chinese characters) that are being formed. More commonly, names are two syllables. There are also individuals with only one-syllable given name, such as the case of Jo Kwon (조권). Rarely, there are also Koreans with native Korean names such as Sarang (사랑; Love), Byul (별; Star), Haneul (하늘; Sky) and many more. Let us see some of the examples of the meaning of Korean names which some of my readers had enquired.

SNSD’s Im Yoon-ah and Seohyun (Seo Joohyun)

Im Yoon-ah Seohyun

Im Yoon-ah and Seohyun(Photo: News Prime)

Im Yoon-ah (임윤아)

임 (林): surname meaning forest

윤 (潤): sleek; soft

아 (娥): beautiful

Seo Joohyun (서주현)

서 (徐): surname meaning dignified

주 (朱): red

현 (賢): virtuous

Kikwang IU

Lee Ji Eun (Yi Ji Eun)

이 (李) : common Korean surname meaning plum tree

지 (知) : knowledge

은 (恩) : grace, charity

Lee Kikwang (Yi Kikwang)

이 (李) : common Korean surname meaning plum tree

기 (起) : rise

광 (光) : light

T-ara’s Ham Eunjung


Ham Eunjung (Photo: Newsen)

Ham Eunjung

함 (咸): uncommon Korean surname meaning united

은 (慇): abundance

정 (晶): bright; radiant

Jang Wooyoung


Jang Wooyoung

장 (張) : common Korean surname literally means to expand

우 (祐) : bless

영 (榮) : honour and glory

See also:
IU and Song Joong Ki for Le Coq Sportif
Beast’s Kikwang – Fiction & Fact
Korean White Day
Seohyun’s Coming of Age



93 thoughts on “Korean Names

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  9. Hi I happened across this post while trying to find the meaning behind my own Korean name as I am adopted. My name is 원 영. 원 being the family name of my mother’s that I was given. Would you be able to tell me the meaning behind my Korean name? Also if you know what the meaning of the family name 권 that would be awesome if you could tell me that as that was my father’s family name. Thanks in advance if you get this!

    • hi minnysota!
      firstly, in order to know the meaning of your korean name, I need to know what is your name in Hanja (Chinese characters).

      원 can be 元 which means the original, the foundation
      it can also have many other hanjas such as 原 援 or 媛 etc…
      권 is quite a common surname with the hanja 權 meaning authority/power

      hope it helps

  10. Hi .. I just want to ask what is the meaning of Chan in Park ChanYeol’s name .. coz as far as I know Yeol means 10, I’m so curious what Chan means. Hope you could help me find out, Thanks in advance ^_^

      • I’m really sorry…. I don’t get it… so is this is the meaning of the name “chanyeol” or just chan??? I would like to give my baby this name so I really need to know the real and origin meaning of it 🙂 hope am not disturbing and thanks a lot 🙂

  11. Hi, i came across your post while trying to find the meaning of this korean name. Can u help tell me the meaning behind this name? Cho Jin-Ho (Hangul: 조진호, Hanja: 曹珍鎬)

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  13. Hi, I know this is an old blog entry but I recently read a book “Escape from Camp 14” by Shin Dong Hyuk…who changed his name from Shin In Geun. I’ve done a search and found the meanings for Dong and In but not for Hyuk or Geun…if you could tell me those, that would be awesome. Thanks in advance. I’m just curious as to the meaning and why he chose that change.

    • hi there.

      there are various meanings and I need to know the Hanja (Chinese characters) before knowing the meaning as the Hangul (Korean Alphabets) are only the sound of the word. 혁, usually referring to Chinese character 赫 means bright and 근 has various meanings. it can mean 根 meaning roots and 勤 meaning diligent

      • Many hanja characters for hangul. Is there only one Hanja per hangul or various hanja for one hangul character

        Example. 념 has many hanja. In korea do koreans only have one attachment of hanja for a hangul character? Or, for example 념 having more then one hanja people choose between the hanja’s 념 has?

      • Yes, they do have only one Hanja attachment to their Hangul names.

        For example, a person named 박재상 has the Hanja name of 朴載相 while the other person with the same Hangul name 박재상 may have another Hanja name such as 朴才尙… which means their name pronounce in Korean is the same while the meaning and the Chinese character is different

  14. hi there i just wanna ask what does 희우 熙優 means and 청희.
    淸嬉 means and kyung nan i dont know the hanja for that .. thanks 🙂

  15. hi there i just wanna ask what does 희우 熙優 means and 청희.
    淸嬉 means and kyung nan i dont know the hanja for that .. thanks

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  17. Anyong ha~se~yo, I came across your website while browsing the web for the Korean Hanja Alphabet. My husband and I are half Korean plus our 4 children. I know how to write Korean but was looking for the meanings. Although my sons have American names, are you able to tell me if they have a Korean meaning to them? And how to write it in Hanja? Their names are: Timothy (we call him TJ) and Jimmy. Can you also tell me the meaning for my daughters names: Sarah (Sa-La) and Mina (Mi-Na). Mi = beauty and Na has different chinese characters so I wanted to pick a way of writing it. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find the alphabet though. Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    • For Timothy and Jimmy, since its in English, there is no equivalent Hanja (Chinese Characters). In Hangul (Korean Alphabet) it would be Timothy (티머시/Timeosi) and Jimmy (지미/Jimi). Jimi sounds more like a female name in Korean context…

      For Sarah, the Hangul alphabet would be 사라… in Hangul.
      The Hanja used can be 沙羅, meaning Sal Tree.

      Mina would be 미나 in Hangul. The Hanja used may be 美娜 … both meaning beautiful

      Out of the four names, only Mina sounds Korean. do take note

  18. Hi…. i’ve sort of looked every where for a Korean version of my name, can you help please???
    my name is Shanzay which means princess or woman of great dignity… but its closer to princess
    and i know that gongju (공주) is the word for princess but that isnt a name is it?
    could you help me find the name that is closest to my names meaning?

  19. I have a Korean name Park Youngkwang (박영광) and Jung IlYong (정일용) I just wanna now what it means. Thanks.

    • similar hangul may have different hanjas as mentioned in my article. i will need to know the Hanja (Chinese Characters) of your name.

      For Youngkwang, the Hanja should be 榮光 … meaning Honor.

  20. hey can i ask you for an idol name’s meaning? his name is Jung Taekwoon [정택운
    ] can you please tell its meaning? thank you!

  21. Hi Could you help me with the translation? What will the name 游美云 be in korean? Thank you.

  22. Hi please help me with what the meaning of my name
    (Male from south Korea)

    Chung Jin Bae
    I was told ages ago that it means something like
    rightous little boy, is that korrect?

    And how would you write it in korean?

  23. Hi. I just wondering to make a korean name based on my name. Liyana. And I want to know the meaning of Eun Byul and Eun Kyu. Or if the arrangement is wrong, please tell me. Thank you.

  24. Hi. So the only way we are able to understand hangul wiritng through names and sentences, is by knowing how to read hanja? ~

  25. Hello,

    I’m an American writer, and I want to name a Korean character something like “Flint” (the stone). Can you help me think of a genuine Korean family name that sounds like or means “flint”?

    Feel free to e-mail me, if you can see my e-mail when you approve this comment.

    Thank you!

    • hi there.

      it’s difficult to find a Korean family name that sounds like “Flint” since “F” is absence in the Korean Language.

      For similar meaning, maybe “Seok 석(石)” which means stone

  26. Hi!! My chinese name is 黄婉瑛. It was given to me by my grandmother. But unfortunately I do not know the meaning of it. And can that be translated to hangul? What would it be if its translated?
    Thanks in advance 😀

  27. Hi, we just adopted a male Jindo dog. I’m looking for a strong sounding male two syllable Korean name that represents the characteristics of this loyal and brave dog, can you tell me some (and how they would be said and spelled in English)? Thanks.

  28. Hi, I am trying to get the translation for the name ” 林凯宁 ” into Korean. Can you help? What is the meaning? How do I spell the name when romanized? Does the pronounction or meaning sounds bad. Thank you.

  29. Hi! Can you help me? I `ve read that the name 성희 has the meaning: 성 as “winning, successor” and 희 as “joy,pleasure”. What hanja simbols should i use in such meanings? thank you

  30. How would you write Han Byul in hangul? Is it common if Han is the last name and Byul is the first name?

  31. Hi! I was wondering what the meaning behind Kim Jae Joon and the Korean and Chinese characters were. Thank you for your help!

  32. Hi! I’m looking for a cute girl name that means either beautiful girl or beautiful smile. I have seen Mi-Cha for beautiful girl (are there any others?) but nothing for beautiful smile. I have seen that Mi means beautiful and that So means smile in Korean and didn’t know if you put them together if they would keep their same meaning. Also could you write the Hanja symbols for them also please. Thank you!

  33. Hi. Could you give me the meaning of this name, 이찬희? I do not know what is the hanja conversion of that name but could give me some possible meaning of this name. Thanks.

      • Thanks for replying.
        Can I ask Woo Bin name mean?
        Thank You

  34. Hello! What’s the Korean translation for this: 谭卓枫
    Its my friend’s name, actually. 😀
    Thank you.

  35. A friend told me that brothers usually have a similar first name, like Kim Min-Jun and Kim Min-Ho, or something like that. Can you verify? In this case, I understand that Kim is their family name. Would they also have the same Min- prefix?

  36. hello.
    how do you judge this name for a girl ?
    this is a name that my korean friends given to me, and i have gotten used to it . i dont want to change it , but how do u see it in korea?

  37. Hi..can you please help and give what is my Korean Name? I’d love to go to your place.I’m a fan of your Korean Drama. I was born on October 17, 1990. Ronily is My First name here in the Philippines…Thanks for the quick response… kamsahameada 🙂

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