Korean names

nn.om

Senior Member
Hello. Hope I'm allowed to ask about this.

I'm writing a novel in which there's a kind of absent central character that is American. For some reasons I changed some details about that character and made it Korean. I can't go through what I've already written and change his name in all the pages, but today I started calling him "Kim" in my writing. I don't know much about the Korean culture/language, but from watching Korean drama and movies I could see that Korean names are usually made of three syllables. Accordingly, I can't leave it as "Kim" only.

Hmm.. honestly, I was inspired a little bit by Kim Sang Bum, the Korean actor whom I HAVE to meet as we both were born on the same day=D, but I can't call that character Kim Sang Bum. I want it to be "Kim" though, but how can I "complete" the name? I believe there must be some kind of rules for the Korean names?
 
  • stupoh

    Member
    Indonesian
    I'm not a Korean but I currently live in Korea, well for almost 6 years already. To my knowledge, Korean names usually consist of three syllables, but some people only have two. One syllable (usually written first if in Korean letter Hangeul, or written the last if in Romanized version) is the family name.

    Usually each of syllable is taken from Chinese word (hanja), but some younger generation have their name purely in Korean, for example 하늘 (ha-neul, means sky), 슬기 (seul-gi, means wisdom), 지혜 (ji-hye, also means wisdom), CMIIW (I'm not so sure about the last two actually).

    I don't really know the actual rules on picking the syllables from the Chinese word. But I remember in the drama 'Sassy Girl Chun-hyang', Mong-ryong's father was trying to pick good names for him, and he used a book, but it's an old book, that's why he got such an old name (Mong-ryong) haha. Also, I've asked my professor once about how he named his first son and he said he hired a company.. :D

    And oh, back to rule, I often mistaken male's name to female and vice versa. I've asked a friend how to differentiate the two and he said the female names are softer to pronounce. But still it's confusing to me, I thought 한준희 (Han Jun-hee) was a female and 남항숙 (Nam Hang-sook) was a male (I was wrong both of the time).

    Okay, this post might not very useful for you.. I'm just presenting some background about Korean names, hopefully a real Korean would come and enlighten us. Cheers!
     

    AKoreanUser

    Member
    Korean
    stupoh made a good explanation. FYI, 지혜 is from Chinese characters.

    About the rule, I'd say it's like cultural habbit. But still, we have some kind of rule. There are some characters which are likely to be used to be men's name or women's name. Like 준, and 범, these are usually used for men. 희 and 숙, on the contrary, are used for women. So when it comes to 한준희, I'm not very sure if it's him or her. But 남항숙 is probably a woman.

    This rule is due to the meaning of the Chinese character, for example, 준(俊) means the person sort of has a talent for things.

    But even though you understand this, you're not 100% sure which character you can use or not because it's just that there are characters peopel prefer to use but some characters peope don't use frequently. That's why I said it's like cultural.

    So I just recommend you to use 김상범(Kim Sangbum). It's not too popular and not too rare. A very normal name. Or if you still want a little change, you can use 김성범(Kim Sungbum), which is also a natural name. Both cases, I don't know what Chniese characters are used for the names, but I think it's not necessary for you to utter that in your novel.

    Feel free to ask. :)
     

    pizzi88g

    New Member
    Korean
    I would like to say Yes, there are some rules!
    Our(I'm a Korean, bad English sorry :p) name is usually consisted with 3 syllables.
    But it is liable to make really weird name.
    For example, if you like '략(ryak)' and '었(utt)', so if you try to make '김략었(Kim Ryak Utt)' as a name of a person, it is totally strange name.
    (It sounds strange huh? haha)
    I know I'm explaining this with weird example, but for some reasons, some foreigners like the 'shape' of hangul. haha

    Yes, Kim Sang Bum is a good name.
    And Kim Bum is also a good name. (He is one of Korean actor :D)
    And some Korean (teenage) girls also like the name '혁(Hyuk)', '준(Jun)'... :p
    It sounds really cool in korean. But you know, '혁준(Hyuk Jun)' is... I think it doesn't sounds so cool. lol

    Well, sorry for complicated answer but I wanted to help you :p
    Good luck for your novel :))))
     

    Anais Ninn

    Senior Member
    Korean
    nn.om,

    It is very common for Korean-Americans to have westernized first name. So, Kevin Kim, David Lee, Brent Park and such would be expected. If your hero is a Korean, born and bred, you can use traditional Korean names which can be very tricky for a non-native.

    What type of person is he? How do you want to portray him to be? Names like Mal-ja Kim (김 말자) sound quite unsophisticated and rural to Koreans, while Da-seul Kim (김 다슬) gives out impression that the person is quite young, for example.

    Anais
     

    nn.om

    Senior Member
    I'm not a Korean but I currently live in Korea, well for almost 6 years already. To my knowledge, Korean names usually consist of three syllables, but some people only have two. One syllable (usually written first if in Korean letter Hangeul, or written the last if in Romanized version) is the family name.

    Usually each of syllable is taken from Chinese word (hanja), but some younger generation have their name purely in Korean, for example 하늘 (ha-neul, means sky), 슬기 (seul-gi, means wisdom), 지혜 (ji-hye, also means wisdom), CMIIW (I'm not so sure about the last two actually).

    I don't really know the actual rules on picking the syllables from the Chinese word. But I remember in the drama 'Sassy Girl Chun-hyang', Mong-ryong's father was trying to pick good names for him, and he used a book, but it's an old book, that's why he got such an old name (Mong-ryong) haha. Also, I've asked my professor once about how he named his first son and he said he hired a company.. :D

    And oh, back to rule, I often mistaken male's name to female and vice versa. I've asked a friend how to differentiate the two and he said the female names are softer to pronounce. But still it's confusing to me, I thought 한준희 (Han Jun-hee) was a female and 남항숙 (Nam Hang-sook) was a male (I was wrong both of the time).

    Okay, this post might not very useful for you.. I'm just presenting some background about Korean names, hopefully a real Korean would come and enlighten us. Cheers!
    That was a very interesting post. Thanks for it=] Languages are worlds!
     

    nn.om

    Senior Member
    About the rule, I'd say it's like cultural habbit. But still, we have some kind of rule. There are some characters which are likely to be used to be men's name or women's name. Like 준, and 범, these are usually used for men. 희 and 숙, on the contrary, are used for women. So when it comes to 한준희, I'm not very sure if it's him or her. But 남항숙 is probably a woman.
    Romanize please.

    So I just recommend you to use 김상범(Kim Sangbum). It's not too popular and not too rare. A very normal name. Or if you still want a little change, you can use 김성범(Kim Sungbum), which is also a natural name. Both cases, I don't know what Chniese characters are used for the names, but I think it's not necessary for you to utter that in your novel.
    Kim, I believe most Korean names start with it!

    I wish I can call him Kim Sangbum, but I'm afraid of being sued or something. My novel will be published, you know=]

    I have a question, is it ok when I just call him "Kim" from time to time? Or is it impolite?

    Another queston, is there any other famous Korean figure called Kim Sangbum?
     

    nn.om

    Senior Member
    I would like to say Yes, there are some rules!
    Our(I'm a Korean, bad English sorry :p) name is usually consisted with 3 syllables.
    But it is liable to make really weird name.
    For example, if you like '략(ryak)' and '었(utt)', so if you try to make '김략었(Kim Ryak Utt)' as a name of a person, it is totally strange name.
    (It sounds strange huh? haha)
    I know I'm explaining this with weird example, but for some reasons, some foreigners like the 'shape' of hangul. haha

    Yes, Kim Sang Bum is a good name.
    And Kim Bum is also a good name. (He is one of Korean actor :D)
    And some Korean (teenage) girls also like the name '혁(Hyuk)', '준(Jun)'... :p
    It sounds really cool in korean. But you know, '혁준(Hyuk Jun)' is... I think it doesn't sounds so cool. lol

    Well, sorry for complicated answer but I wanted to help you :p
    Good luck for your novel :))))
    Yes I believe Kim Sangbum is a good name. Actually I want a name that wouldn't look weird when written/read in Arabic (my novel is written in Arabic), and I think "Kim Sangbum" works.

    Thank you =]
     

    nn.om

    Senior Member
    It is very common for Korean-Americans to have westernized first name. So, Kevin Kim, David Lee, Brent Park and such would be expected. If your hero is a Korean, born and bred, you can use traditional Korean names which can be very tricky for a non-native.

    What type of person is he? How do you want to portray him to be? Names like Mal-ja Kim (김 말자) sound quite unsophisticated and rural to Koreans, while Da-seul Kim (김 다슬) gives out impression that the person is quite young, for example.
    What do you think of Davey Kim?

    Hmmm, what type of person is he? I don't know why I blushed when I tried to think of answers for you questions=p I can say he's mysterious, kind, a little arrogant... I can't say more, but tell me please what kind of impression "Kim SungBum" or "Kim Sang Bum" gives?


    So, in the end of the day I found myself enjoying looking for a name for my Korean hero =] so fun! Thank you everyone.
     

    henriyo

    New Member
    Indonesian
    I know I'm explaining this with weird example, but for some reasons, some foreigners like the 'shape' of hangul. haha
    Korean Dramas and the shape of hangul are most interesting stuffs about korean...then come the traditional costumes (for woman) I love to learn hangul.
     
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