100+ Popular Korean Last Names Or Surnames With Meanings

Korean Last Names Or Surnames With Meanings

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North Korea, South Korea, Jeju Island, and several other mini islands together constitute the Korean peninsula. The population of Korea includes natives from the neighboring countries too. Thus, the influence of China and Japan is seen on Korean names and surnames.

In this post, MomJunction brings you a list of more than 100 Korean family names along with their meanings.

Naming Tradition Of Koreans

Did you know some Koreans follow a tradition of giving a generation name? This tradition was adopted from China. Many Korean family names are derived from a single syllable, which also depends on the generation of the person. In North and South Korea, the generation level and surname come before the first name of a person.

For instance, two cousins from the same generation might be named Ahn Yujin and Ahn Jaemo, with Ahn being their family name at the generational level. Their next generation’s family name will be derived from some other syllable. Sounds interesting? Let’s have a look at some of the top surnames that are most common in the Koreas.

List Of Top Korean Surnames Or Last Names

1. Ahn

Ahn is one of the most commonly found last names in Korea and it refers to ‘tranquility’.

2. Bae

Also spelled as ‘Bai’ or ‘Pei’, the word Bae refers to a pear.

3. Baek

This Korean last name has other variants such as Paek, Baik or Paik referring to the color ‘white’.

4. Bai

Originated in China and Mongolia, Bai is a Korean last name that refers to ‘something pure’ or ‘white’.

5. Bak

Bak is the third most common last name in Korea (1) and is derived from the name of the fruit called ‘gourd’.

6. Bang

Bang is derived from the Korean word ‘sarangbang’ referring to a ‘room’.

7. Byun

This is derived from a Chinese surname Bian that has various references such as ‘excitable’ or ‘impatient’. It can also mean ‘edge’ or ‘border’.

8. Cha

Originated in the 10th century AD in the Korean peninsula, this last name refers to ‘a chariot’.

9. Chai

This last name migrated to Korea from China and refers to ‘firewood’ or ‘brushwood’.

10. Chang

Chang is a variant of Zhang and means ‘prosperous’ or ‘flourishing’. Another reference of this surname is from the vocation of ‘archery’. The name has a Chinese origin.

11. Chay

Chay is a spelling variant of Chai or Chae and refers to ‘brushwood’.

12. Cheong

This last name is a variant of ‘Jeong’ and refers to ‘quiet’ or ‘gentle’.

13. Chew

Chew is a variant of ‘Zhu’ or ‘Chu’ and is a toponymic last name. It is derived from the ancient state of Zhu, and was also the family name of emperors of the Ming dynasty.

14. Chi

It is a spelling variant of ‘Zhi’ and refers to a ‘branch’ or a ‘limb’.

15. Chin

Chin is derived from ‘Chen’ and refers to ‘exhibit’ or ‘ancient’.

16. Cho

Cho is a popular Korean last name derived from ‘Zhao’ that was an ancient city in Shanxi province.

17. Choe/Choi

This Korean last name refers to ‘a high tower’ or ‘lofty’.

18. Chong

Derived from ‘Zhang,’ this surname refers to ‘stretch’ or ‘extend’. It is also an occupational surname derived from people who were engaged in ‘bow-making’.

20. Chu

Derived from the Chinese word ‘Zhu’ it has two possible meanings. One reference makes it a habitational or toponymic last name referring to the name of an ancient state of Zhu. Another meaning refers to ‘vermilion red’ or ‘cinnabar’.

21. Chun

Also spelled as Jeon, this Korean last name refers to a ‘field’.

22. Chung

Chung is a common Korean surname that is a variant of the toponymic last name ‘Zheng’. It was an ancient state in the Henan province.

23. Do

Do is derived from the word ‘Dao’ that refers to ‘a path’ or ‘a roadway’.

24. Gang

Gang is a Korean surname derived from the Chinese word Jiang referring to ‘ginger’.

25. Gim

This surname originated in China and refers to ‘gold’.

26. Goe

It is a variant of ‘Ko’ referring to ‘high’. This last name originated in the Korean peninsula.

27. Ha

It is the romanized version of ‘Xia’ and refers to ‘summer’ or ‘grand’.

28. Hahm

Hahm is a western Korean occupational surname and means ‘seller of weighing scales’.

29. Han

Han refers to ‘country’ or ‘leader’. Other variants of this last name are ‘Hahn’ or ‘Haan’.

30. Heo

Often spelled as ‘Huh,’ this Korean surname means ‘to permit’ or ‘advocate’.

31. Ho

Ho refers to ‘brave’ or fierce’. Im Ho, South Korean actor, is a famous bearer of this surname.

32. Hong

This surname originated in China and refers to ‘expand’ or ‘great’.

34. Hwang

This is derived from the Chinese word ‘Huang’ referring to ‘yellow’.

35. Hyun

This Korean surname refers to ‘profound’ or ‘mysterious’.

36. Im

Im is derived from Sino Korean word ‘Lin’ and refers to a ‘forest’.

37. In

The Korean surname has its roots in Japan and China. It is derived from the word ‘Yin’ and refers to ‘stamp’ or ‘India’.

38. Jang

This surname is a spelling variant of ‘Zhang’ and refers to ‘archer’ or ‘bowyer’.

39. Jee

Jee is a variant of Ji or Zhi and refers to ‘will’ or ‘ambition’.

40. Jeon

Jeon is a spelling variant of ‘Chon’ or ‘Chun’ and refers to a ‘field’.

41. Jeong

Jeong is derived from ‘Zheng’ an ancient state, and this is a toponymic last name.

42. Jin

Jin originated in China and refers to ‘gold’.

43. Joh

Joh, a variant of ‘Cho,’ is a Korean last name derived from ‘Zhao’. It was an ancient city in Shanxi province.

44. Jong

Jong is a spelling variant of ‘Jeong’ derived from ‘Zheng’ that was an ancient state. It is a toponymic Korean last name.

45. Ju

Derived from the word ‘Zhou’, Ju refers to ‘circumference’.

46. Jue

Jue is a spelling variant of Chu and is derived from the Chinese word ‘Zhu’. It is a toponymic last name coming from the name of an ancient state of Zhu. It also refers to ‘vermilion red’ or ‘cinnabar’.

47. Jun

Jun originated from the Chinese character and refers to ‘talented’ or ‘handsome’.

48. Jung

Jung is a variant of ‘Jeong’ derived from the name of an ancient state called ‘Zheng’. This is a toponymic last name.

49. Kang

A spelling variant of ‘Jiang,’ this surname refers to ‘ginger’.

50. Keng

Keng is also derived from the word ‘Jiang’. The other variant of the surname is ‘Kang’.

51. Ki

Ki is derived from a Chinese word and refers to a ‘tree’ or ‘wood’.

52. Kil

Kil originated in China and has references from Yiddish, referring to ‘cool’.

53. Kim

Kim is the most common Korean last name and is a variant of ‘Jin’ referring to ‘gold’.

54. Ko

Ko is a habitational surname and refers to the descendants of the Korean peninsula or Ko dynasty.

55. Kong

Kong is derived from a Chinese word and refers to ‘empty’ or ‘hollow’ and ‘sky’.

56. Ku

Ku is a variant of ‘Gu’ or ‘Goo’ which means a ‘tool’ or ‘utensil’.

57. Kuk

Kuk is derived from the Chinese word ‘Guo’ and refers to ‘country’.

58. Kwak

Kwak is a spelling variant of ‘Gwak’ and ‘Guo’ meaning to ‘the outer part of a city or country’.

59. Kwan

Kwan is a Korean variant of the Chinese word ‘Guan’ and refers to ‘frontier pass’.

60. Kwock

This is also a variant of ‘Gwak’ or ‘Kwak’ referring to ‘a surrounding area’ or ‘city walls’.

61. Kwon

Kwon is a variant of ‘Quan’ and refers to ‘power’ or ‘authority’.

62. Lee

Lee is derived from the Sino Korean word ‘Li’ and refers to ‘plum’ or ‘a plum tree’.

63. Lin

Lin is a popular Korean last name with origins in China and refers to a ‘forest’.

64. Ma

Ma originated in China and refers to a ‘horse’.

65. Min

Min is a first name that later evolved as a last name. It refers to ‘clever’ or ‘smart’. The popular BTS, KPop singer Min, stylized as Suga, is a famous bearer of this name.

66. Mok

Mok is a derivation of the Chinese word ‘Mo’ that means ‘screen’ or ‘curtain’.

67. Mong

Mong is a unique Korean surname that is a variant of ‘Meng’ and refers to ‘suffer’ or ‘ignorance’.

68. Moon

Moon is the Korean form of the Chinese word ‘Wen’ that means ‘culture’ or ‘literature’.

69. Mun

This Korean surname is a variant of Moon, derived from ‘Wen’.

70. Myung

Myung is a spelling variant of ‘Myeong’ referring to ‘bright’ or ‘brilliant’.

71. Na

Na is a Korean last name derived from the Chinese toponymic name that refers to a state in the Zhou dynasty.

72. Nahm

Nahm or Nam are very common Korean last names that refer to ‘south’.

73. No

No is derived from the Chinese word ‘Ye’ and refers to ‘field’ or ‘wilderness’.

74. Oh

Oh is a spelling variant of ‘Wu’ and refers to the ancient state of ‘Wu’ located in the Jiangsu province.

75. Ok

Ok is the variant of ‘Oak’ or ‘Ock’ that refers to the ‘Oak tree’. Another meaning of this Korean surname means ‘jade’.

76. Pae

Pae is a variant of ‘Bae’ or ‘Pei’ and this surname refers to a pear.

77. Paek

It is a variant of Baik or Paik, referring to white color.

78. Pai

Pai is derived from ‘Bai’ or ‘Pei’. It refers to the name of a fruit, called ‘a pear’.

79. Paik

This last name is a variant of Paek, Baik or Paik and refers to the color ‘white’.

80. Pak

Pak is derived from the Sino-Korean word ‘Bak’ meaning ‘plain’ or ‘unadorned’.

81. Pan

This Korean surname refers to the ‘water in which rice has been rinsed’. Pan also refers to the stream that flows into the Han river.

82. Park

It is a spelling variant of the Sino-Korean word ‘Bak’ and refers to ‘simple’ or ‘unadorned’.

83. Pu

Pu is a spelling variant of ‘Pak’ derived from ‘Bak’ referring to ‘unadorned’ or ‘simple’.

84. Quon

This is a spelling variant of ‘Kwon’ or ‘Quan’ referring to ‘power’ or ‘authority’.

85. Ra

This surname has Chinese origins and refers to ‘good’ or ‘virtuous’.

86. Reeh/ Rhee

It is a spelling variant of ‘Yi’ or ‘Li’ and refers to a plum tree.

87. Rim

It is derived from the word ‘Im’ or ‘Lin’ referring to a ‘forest’.

88. Roh

Roh or Ro is derived from the Chinese word ‘Lu’ meaning a ‘musical note’.

89. Ryu

Ryu is the Korean form of the Chinese word ‘Yu’ and refers to a ‘willow tree’.

90. Sa

This Korean last name originated during AD 918–1392 and was the family name of the members of Kyongsang South Province’s Kochang County.

91. Seo

Seo is a Sino-Korean word that evolved as a surname, and means ‘calm’ or ‘poised’.

92. Shin

The historical last name descended from the five Shin Clans who lived in the Chinese and Korean peninsular regions.

93. Sim

This last name is derived from the word ‘Shen’ and means to ‘sink’.

94. Sin

Sin is a variant of ‘Xin’ and is a topographical last name. Xin was the name of an ancient state in the Xia dynasty.

95. So

This historical surname is derived from the family name of 165 clans who were the emperors of Cholla South province, Old Choson kingdom, So Shin-il etc.

96. Son

Son is derived from the Chinese word ‘Shan’ referring to a ‘mountain’ or ‘hill’.

97. Song

Song descended as a last name from the Song dynasty, who ruled China and later expanded to Korea.

98. Suh

This surname is a variant of ‘So’. It is derived from the family name of the ancestors and emperors of Old Choson kingdom, Cholla South province, So Shin-il etc.

99. Suk

Suk is a variant of ‘Shu’ and means ‘ancient’ or ‘stone’.

100. Sun

This Korean last name refers to ‘grandchild’ or ‘descendant’.

101. Sung

Sung is a spelling variant of ‘Song’ that was derived from the family name of the Song dynasty.

102. Tak

This last name was passed on by T’ak Chi-yop, who was a scholar from Koryo Kingdom. His followers adopted his first name as their last name.

103. Tan

Tan is derived from ‘Chen’ and refers to ‘an exhibit’ or ‘display’.

104. Tang

This last name originated in China, which was ruled by the Tang dynasty from 618 to 907. In Korea, this surname is also popularly called ‘Tong’.

105. To

It is derived from the Chinese word ‘Dou’ referring to a ‘dipper’ or ‘unit of measure’.

106. Toh

Toh is derived from the Chinese word ‘Du’ which means ‘stop’ or ‘prevent’.

107. Wang

Wang is another Korean last name that originated in China and refers to ‘king’ or ‘monarch’.

108. Whang

This surname also is a variant of ‘Hwang’.

109. Woo

Woo is a spelling variant of ‘Wu’ referring to an ancient state of ‘Wu’. It is located in the Jiangsu province.

110. Yang

This surname originated in China and refers to ‘bridge’.

111. Ye

Ye is a Korean last name with China origins and refers to a ‘leaf’.

112. Yee/Yi

This is a spelling variant of ‘Lee’ or ‘Li’ referring to a ‘plum’ or a ‘plum tree’.

113. Yeon

This surname is a variant of Juan that means ‘beautiful’ or ‘graceful’.

114. Yoon

It is derived from the Sino-Korean word Yun meaning ‘to govern’ or ‘eldest’.

115. You

This last name originated in China and refers to ‘reason’ or ‘cause’.

116. Yu

It is derived from the Chinese word ‘Yu’ that means ‘in’ or ‘at’.

117. Yun

This Sino Korean word that was later adopted as a last name refers ‘to govern’ or ‘to oversee’.

Most Korean names consist of two or three syllables. The meanings of such syllables may vary when Romanized from Hanja (the Korean name for Chinese characters), and the subtle changes in sounds matter.

If you have an interesting Korean surname or know of any, do share it with us in the comment section below.

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Harshita Makvana

Harshita is a graduate in commerce and holds a PG Diploma in Patent and Copyrights Law from NALSAR University. She has also pursued CA and has more than three years of internship experience in auditing.Her love for travelling has taken her to various parts of the world, and writing the travelogues has what brought out her love for content writing.Harshita has experience in writing blogs and is passionate about presenting complex subjects in an easy-to-comprehend manner.In her spare time, she works on vegan activism, rescuing animals in need, and trying vegan delicacies.
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