What’s in a Korean Name
Before you use any machine translator usually found on the Internet such as Korean Name Translator (actually there are millions of them), you need to understand some basics of Korean names. Why? Because Korean translation is different from translating French or any other western names to Korean names. The problem is that you never know whether it is right or wrong unless you actually used the result. Only Korean translators will know.
Typically, a Korean name consists of a family name and a given name which is typically made up of two Chinese characters. For instance, take a common Korean name such as ‘Kim Yeong Su’. Here ‘Kim’ is the family name and ‘Yeong Su’ is the given name.
Traditionally, when parents select a child’s given name in Korea, the given name is derived from two Chinese characters. One Chinese character is affixed according to generation so that brothers, sisters and cousins would have the same Chinese character. The second Chinese character would be individually selected by the parents.
Based upon the two Chinese characters, a child would receive his given name. However, many modern Korean parents have chosen a different method in selecting their child’s given name. Instead of selecting their child’s given name via the use of Chinese characters, many Korean parents have chosen to select pure Korean names without any reference to Chinese characters.
Currently, there are approximately 90 family names in Korea. Some of the most common family names in Korea are Kim, Lee, Park and Choi. In most western countries, after a woman marries she legally adopts the husband’s family name as her own. However in Korea, a woman maintains her family’s name throughout her life.