List of Korean Surnames

Complete List Of Korean Surnames And Last Names With Meanings 2023 | Top 113 Historical, Rare Korean Last Names

Surnames are important. 

They connect us to our ancestors, define our family lineage, and sometimes even give hints of our occupation. So this list of Korean surnames makes an interesting read!

Korean surnames, like their Japanese counterparts, have their roots in the Chinese language. Although, these surnames are now written in Hangul or “the great script”.

Related: How Korean Names Work

I’ve always found the Korean naming structure interesting. In Korean cultures the surnames are often written first followed by the first name of the individual.

This is done to emphasize the importance of family, history, and our ancestors. 

List of Korean surnames in Hangul

There are a lot of Korean surnames like Park, Lee, Cho, etc. which are monosyllabic. These are also some of the most famous Korean surnames out there. 

But if you’re wondering what are some other common surnames, I’ve got this list of Korean surnames ready for you.

I’ve also listed out the meaning of these surnames. Some of these names have their roots in the Chinese language, while others family names of ancient dynasties and cities.  

List Of Korean Surnames

1. Ahn

Meaning – Tranquility

Hangul: 안

2. Bae

Meaning – A Pear. This surname is sometimes also spelled as “Bai”

Hangul: 배

3. Bak

Meaning – Gourd

Hangul – 박

4. Baek

Meaning – White Color

Hangul: 백

5. Bang

Meaning – Room

Hangul: 방

6. Byun

Meaning – Edge or Border. As it’s taken from the Chinese word “Bian” this surname can also mean someone who’s impatient or quick to excitement.   

Hangul: 변

7. Cha

Meaning – Chariot

Hangul: 차

8. Chai

Meaning – Firewood

Hangul: 차이

9. Chang

Meaning – Prosperous

Hangul: 창

10. Chay

Meaning – Brushwood

Hangul: 어떤 것

11. Cheong

Meaning – Gentle, meek and quiet

Hangul: 청

12. Chew

Meaning – A common family name in the Zhu state. It was also used by emperors in the Ming Dynasty.

Hangul – 朱, 周

13. Chi

Meaning – Branch

Hangul: 치

14. Chin

Meaning – Ancient, Old

Hangul – 진

15. Cho

Meaning – A city in the Shanxi province

Hangul: 초

16. Choi

Meaning – Lofty, Tall Tower

Hangul: 최

17. Chong

Meaning – Bow Maker 

Hangul – 종

18. Chu

Meaning – Red or referring to the Zhu dynasty

Hangul: 추

19. Chun

Meaning – Field

Hangul: 전

20. Do

Meaning – Road or path

Hangul – 도

21. Deung 

Meaning – Back 

Hangul – 등

22. Dae

Meaning – Greatness

Hangul – 대

23. Gang

Meaning – Ginger

Hangul: 강

24. Gim

Meaning – Gold

Hangul: 김

25. Goe

Meaning – High or Lofty

Hangul –  髙|高

26. Ha

Meaning – Summer 

Hangul: 하아

27. Hahm

Meaning – West

Hangul: 흠

28. Han

Meaning – Leader

Hangul: 한

29. Heo

Meaning – Advocate

Hangul: 허

30. Ho

Meaning – Fierce and Brave

Hangul: 호

31. Hong

Meaning – Great

Hangul: 홍

32. Hwang

Meaning – Yellow

Hangul: 황

33. Hyun

Meaning – Mysterious

Hangul: 현

34. Im

Meaning – Forest

Hangul: 임

35. In

Meaning – Refers to India

Hangul: 에

36. Jang

Meaning – Archer

Hangul: 장

37. Jee

Meaning – Ambition, Will Power

Hangul: 지

38. Jeong

Meaning – The ancient state of Zheung

Hangul: 정

39. Jin

Meaning – Gold

Hangul: 진

40. Joh

Meaning – City in Shanxi province.

Hangul: 조

41. Ju

Meaning – Circumference or Encircle

Hangul: 주

42. Jue

Meaning – Cinnabar, Vermillion

Hangul: 추

43. Jun

Meaning – Handsome and Talented

Hangul: 전

44. Jung

Meaning – Also derived from Zheng city 

Hangul: 정

45. Kang

Meaning – Ginger

Hangul: 넓은

46. Keng

Meaning – A different spelling of “Kang”

Hangul: 넓은

47. Ki

Meaning – Tree, Lumber

Hangul: 계

48. Kil

Meaning – Cool

Hangul: 길

49. Kim

Meaning – Gold

Hangul: 김

50. Ko

Meaning – Family name in the Ko dynasty

Hangul: 고

51. Kong

Meaning – Sky

Hangul: 공

52. Ku

Meaning – Tool, Utensil

Hangul: 구

53. Kuk

Meaning – Country

Hangul: 곡

54. Kwack

Meaning – The suburbs or outskirts of a country

Hangul: 곽

55. Kwan / Guan

Meaning – Border Pass

Hangul: 구

56. Kwock

Meaning – Another spelling for Kwack

Hangul: 곽

57. Kwon

Meaning – Power or Authority

Hangul: 권

58. Lee

Meaning – Plum

Hangul: 이

59. Lin

Meaning – Forest

Hangul: 인

60. Ma

Meaning – Horse

Hangul: 마

61. Maeng

Meaning – First month of a season

Hangul: 맹

62. Min

Meaning – Clever and Smart

Hangul: 민

63. Mok

Meaning – Curtain, Partition or Screen

Hangul: 목

64. Mong

Meaning – Ignorance or Suffering


65. Moon

Meaning – Culture, Literature

Hangul: 문

66. Mun

Meaning – Another spelling of the name “Moon”

Hangul: 문

67. Myung

Meaning –  Brilliant

Hangul: 명

68. Na

Meaning – A state in the Zhou dynasty.

Hangul: 나

69. Nahm

Meaning – South

Hangul: 남

70. No

Meaning – Field, Wilderness

Hangul: 노

71. Oh

Meaning – Ancient state of Wu in the Jiangsu province.

Hangul: 어

72. Ok

Meaning – Oak Tree

Hangul: 옥

73. Pae

Meaning – Pear

Hangul: 패

73. Paek

Meaning – White Color

Hangul: 백

74. Pai

Meaning – Another spelling of the name “Pae”

Hangul: 배

75. Pak

Meaning – Plain.

Hangul: 박

76. Pan

Meaning – Rice Water

Hangul: 판

77. Park

Meaning –  Simple

Hangul: 박

78. Pu

Meaning – Simple

Hangul: 부

79. Quon

Meaning – Another spelling for the name “Kwon”

Hangul: 권

80. Ra

Meaning – Good and Virtuous

Hangul: 라

81. Reeh

Meaning – Plum Tree

Hangul: 이 

82. Rim

Meaning – Forest

Hangul: 림

83. Roh

Meaning – Musical Notes

Hangul: 로

84. Ryu / Yu

Meaning – Willow Tree 

Hangul: 유

85. Sa

Meaning – A Family Name in the Kyongsang South Province’s Kochang County

Hangul: 사

86. Seo

Meaning – Calm, Graceful

Hangul: 瑞

87. Shin

Meaning – Based on the Shin Clans from the Chinese and Korean Peninsular regions.

Hangul: 신

88. Sim

Meaning – Sink

Hangul: 심

89. Sin

Meaning – An ancient state in the Xia dynasty

Hangul: 신

90. So

Meaning – A family name of emperors from the Cholla South province.

Hangul: 소

91. Son

Meaning – Mountain

Hangul: 손

92. Song

Meaning – Refers to the Song dynasty.

Hangul: 송

93. Suh

Meaning – A different version of the name “So”

Hangul: 서

94. Suk

Meaning – Stone

Hangul: 석

95. Sun

Meaning – Descendants

Hangul: 순

96. Sung

Meaning – Same as “Song”

Hangul: 성

97. Tak

Meaning – A scholar from the Koryo Kingdom

Hangul: 탁

98. Tan

Meaning – Display, Exhibition

Hangul: 탄

99. Tang

Meaning – Name of a ruler from the Tang Dynasty

Hangul: 당

100. To

Meaning –  A Unit of Measure

Hangul: 에

101. Toh

Meaning – Stop, Prevent

Hangul: 도

102. Wang

Meaning – A King or Monarch

Hangul: 왕

103. Whang

Meaning – Yellow

Hangul: 황

104. Woo

Meaning – A state in Jiangsu Province

Hangul: 우

105. Yang

Meaning –  Bridge

Hangul: 양

106. Ye

Meaning – Leaf

Hangul: 예

107. Yee

Meaning – Plum Tree


108. Yeon

Meaning – Beautiful and Poised

Hangul: 연 

109. Yoon

Meaning –  The Eldest


110. You

Meaning – Cause or Reason

Hangul: 윤

111. Yu

Meaning – In or At

Hangul: 유 

112. Yun

Meaning – Governor

Hangul: 윤

113. Seok

Meaning – Stone, Tin

Hangul: 石

FAQs – Korean Surnames

popular Korean surnames

Chinese Influenced Korean Surnames

Korea and Japan began adopting Chinese convention during the Tang Dynasty. This period of Chinese history, from 618 – 907 CE, is considered the epitome of ancient Chinese culture and civilization. The Koreans and Japanese, while they developed their own unique cultures and traditions, did adopt many elements of China. Korea lies very close to China, and as a result, the two nations have engaged in wars, cultural exchanges, and influences.

As such, many Korean names are heavily influenced by the Chinese language. For example, both Japan and Korea follow the Chinese convention of a “family name”, which is a name that is passed down through the generations, and a “given name”, which is a name given to the individual at birth.

Additionally, Japanese and Korean names are written in Chinese characters. The Chinese characters used for Korean and Japanese names are phonetically similar to their Chinese counterparts. For example, the Chinese character for the Korean name “Kim”, is the same as the Chinese characters for the Chinese name “Jin”.

Also, the Chinese system is a generational system and is based on the father’s family name. First, the son takes the father’s surname. If the son has a son, he and his wife share the same surname as the father. If his wife has no siblings and is of low birth, the couple will change their surname to the wife’s family name.

This pattern of sharing the same family name continued throughout generations. In general, Korean family names are the same as those in China. However, the higher the family’s socio-political status the shorter the names became.

Korean Surname Based on Region/Place of Origin

Korean surnames were adapted by the Chinese, who called Korea “Joseon”. However, Joseon is a kingdom that was founded in 1392, when the country became unified after the seperation of the Three Kingdoms.

Koreans didn’t use Chinese characters to name themselves until the very late 19th century, and because Joseon was an independent state, its people didn’t want to use Chinese characters. So, the Koreans were forced to use their actual geography and surroundings as surnames.

This is why so many Korean surnames end in “-ng”, “-dong”, “-buk”, “-gun”, “-myeon”, “-myeong”, and “-ri”. -ng, -dong, -buk, and -ri are the most popular endings for surnames. -ng is the equivalent of “-town”, so surnames like Gang, Chung, Park, etc all mean “town.” -Myeong, -Myeon, and -Myeong are all the same, with “-myeong” being the most popular. And finally, “-dong” is used to describe a town or city.

You also have -gun, which means “county”, which is like a district. -gun is almost always used with a city name. Examples:  -Buk means “north castle”, so the most famous Kim is Kim Gu, who is the first leader of the Koguryo dynasty. And the most popular Kim

What is the rarest Korean surname?

While a majority of South Koreans have either one among the three common surnames, there are other Korean surnames that are rare.  

I’ve listed out some of the rarest Korean surnames below. 

These are either derived from Chinese transliteration of other surnames, traditional surnames that were used in medieval times, and cities and areas of a person’s residence.

  1. Janggok (장곡) 
  2. Kangjeon 岡田 (강전) 
  3. Gok 曲 (곡) 
  4. Gae 介 (개) 
  5. Mae 梅 (매)
  6. Kwog 鴌 (궉) 
  7. Hak (학) 
  8. Eogeum (어금)
  9. Tan 彈 (탄)
  10. Jeup 汁 (즙) 
  11. Sobong (소봉) 
  12. Jeo (저)
  13. Chun 椿 (춘) 
  14. Ya 夜 (야) 
  15. Sam (삼)

What are the most popular Korean last names?

The most popular Korean surnames are Park, Kim, Lee, and Choi. According to a survey conducted by the National Statistical Office of Korea in 2015, 21.5% of Koreans have the last name Kim, 14.7% go by Lee, and 8.4% have the surname Park.

The National Statistical Office also gives us the following information.

In Korea, there are about 10.6 million people called Kim, 7.3 million people called Lee, 4.1 million Parks, and 2.333 million Chois. 

So you see, these surnames make up more than half of the South Korean population. Fascinating, isn’t it?

How many surnames are there in Korea?

In 2000, the government of South Korea did a housing census and found that there were at least 286 surnames. The same census also reported that there were around 4,179 clans.

Can someone with the same surname get married in Korea?

For a long time Korean society did not allow men and women who had the same surnames to get married. 

If you have the same surname, you’re considered to belong to the same ancestral home or dongseong dongbon. Marrying into the same ancestral home was considered incest by ancient Koreans.

This rule was also enacted legally by Article 809 of the Korean Civil Code in 1957. So you were legally prohibited from marrying a person with the same surname as you.

Probably this rule made sense in the 14th and 15th centuries when clans were small and there wasn’t much intermingling. So these measures were necessary to prevent inbreeding.

However, in the modern world, these traditions seem too strict. Almost half the population in South Korea is either Park, Lee, or Kim. So Article 890 can become impossible to implement. 

Thankfully, the Government of Korea recognized this issue and ruled this prohibition unconstitutional on the 16th of July 1997. 

The above alphabetical list of Korean surnames and their meanings is a helpful guide when it comes to understanding the Korean naming structure and their culture in general.

Despite the divisive political history, these surnames are common in both North and South Korea. 

There has been a lot of interest in Korean names lately with fans of K-dramas and K-pop stars google their names to find out their meanings.

I hoped this guide was helpful and bought you a step closer to understanding how Korean surnames work. 

Also Read:

List of Korean Traditions

How Korean Age Works

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