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Lesson Transcript

Seol: 안녕하세요. 윤설입니다.
Keith: Keith here. Korean Culture Class Number 18, Korean Names. All right, so this is something that I wanted to do for quite some time, and actually, this has been requested in our forum.
Seol: Oh, really?
Keith: So if any of our listeners’ have any lesson suggestions, then, all they’ve got to do is stop by the forum.
Seol: KoreanClass101.com
Keith: And you’ve got to do is hey, I want a lesson on this, and then we try to help you out. We can’t always do 100 percent of the time, but maybe about 99?
Seol: That sounds great,
Keith: Yeah. We try. All right so we talking about Korean names today. And we are not just talking about Korean names, just names. What are we talking about more specifically?

Lesson focus

Seol: The surname name, the family name 성.
Keith: Yeah, and that’s family name. And in Korea 성이 많은 거 같아요 or 많이 없는 거 같아요? Do you think there are a lot of family names or there is not a lot of family names?
Seol: 성은 많은데요.
Keith: There’s a lot, but what?
Seol: Just like there are a lot of 김, 이, 박. So I just feel like the definite number of 성 is not that many.
Keith: Well, actually, we have a number in front of us and that’s actually, 286 last names.
Seol: Wow, that many?
Keith: I don’t think that’s a lot, actually.
Seol: To me, it’s quite a lot.
Keith: Yeah, if you think about it, it’s mostly Korean family names that you hear are 김, 이...
Seol: 박, 최
Keith: 최, yeah. There you go.
Seol: 정, 강...
Keith: There’s only a slight few that you hear a lot. But, actually, there’s a lot of like many…
Seol: Those mini…
Keith: I don’t want to say mini but… you know what I mean.
Seol: Yeah.
Keith: There’s the major names, and there is smaller names. And we go into a little more detail on why they are bigger and why they’re smaller.
Seol: Sounds great.
Keith: All right. And, before we continue on, we just want to make a reference that we try not to say last name because more specifically it’s a family name. And also, the family name comes in front so it’s not the last name either.
Seol: No.
Keith: Ok. So what the first thing you think of Korean family names.
Seol: It’s, of course, Kim.
Keith: That’s because we’re the best.
Seol: No, cause you’re the worst.
Keith: And the best.
Seol: No
Keith: Best looking, smartest, most athletic.
Seol: No.
Keith: But how many Kims are there in Korea? Like what’s the percentage?
Seol: It’s about 20 percent. Specifically, it’s about 21.6 percent.
Keith: Ok, that’s about 10 million people?
Seol: Yeah, quite a lot.
Keith: That’s a lot, yeah. Wait, so Korea’s population is about 45 million people? And then 10 million people, that’s about a quarter.
Seol: Yeah.
Keith: Okay, okay. So why are there so many Kims? Are they all related to each other?
Seol: No.
Keith: You wouldn’t be able to marry a quarter of the population then. That would be terrible.
Seol: Oh, it would be very terrible.
Keith: Like your choices are really limited.
Seol: Oh my god.
Keith: But, actually, both my parents, their family names are Kim.
Seol: Oh really?
Keith: Yeah, they’re both Kim.
Seol: Different kind?
Keith: Different kinds of Kim.
Seol: Ok.
Keith: So my dad, he’s a 연안 김.
Seol: Aha.
Keith: And my mom, she’s a 전주 김.
Seol: Ah.
Keith: And, actually, I didn’t really get this when I was younger but what is the front part of that name 연안 김, 전주 김? What is that 연안, 전주, what is that referring to?
Seol: That’s referring to the place that the first ancestor was born or the place that he made the name.
Keith: So actually, all the Kims are not related. There’s different kinds of Kims.
Seol: So those people who has the same 본관 are related.
Keith: What’s the word again?
Seol: 본관 [slowly - broken down by syllable] 본관 [natural native speed]
Keith: And that word is referring to that area that we just talking about 연안 김씨.
Seol: Or 전주 김씨.
Keith: And that first part 연안, 전주, that’s what 본관 is referring to. So, actually, before we move on, Kim is the family name, and then what do we add after that?
Seol: 끼.
Keith: And that’s just referring to the family name 김씨. So if I meet someone new, “Oh, you’re a Kim? What kind of 김씨 are you?” 무슨 김씨예요?
Seol: Then you have to say 저는 안동 김씨입니다.
Keith: Yeah.
Seol: Or you know 연안 김씨입니다.
Keith: And I think Kim, because this is the most populous name, maybe about, what did we say? Maybe 20 percent?
Seol: 10 million people.
Keith: Yeah, okay. 김씨 has about 17 different 본관.
Seol: Wow!
Keith: I think, I think. I’m m not totally 100 percent on the number but, it’s about that number. So there’s a bunch of other names as well. There’s 이 and 박. They’re a lot too, aren’t there?
Seol: Yeah, of course.
Keith: So these people are not related to each other.
Seol: No, they are not.
Keith: So, that’s why my mom and my dad, that’s why they got married.
Seol: They could marry, right?
Keith: They can, but quick question can you marry within the same 본관 within the same area name?
Seol: You were not able to because having the same 본관 means you have the same ancestor.
Keith: So basically you are a family?
Seol: Yeah, like distant cousins.
Keith: Yeah, so maybe about like 15th cousin or something like that.
Keith: You have no relation, you have never met the person.
Seol: No,
Keith: But you can’t marry them?
Seol: Yeah you were not able to, not any more I guess.
Keith: Yeah, I think they changed the law a little bit.
Seol: So the real close cousins, of course, they cannot marry, but those that are real distant cousins, they can marry.
Keith: All right. So let’s move on a little bit. What are some more common Korean family names?
Seol: 이, 박, 강, 최, 정.
Keith: Ok, well, those first two, 이 and 박, combine with 김, those three family names, they combine for about 50 percent of the Korean population.
Seol: Wow…
Keith: That’s a lot.
Seol: That’s why all my friends are 김, 이, 박.
Keith: That’s why all our listeners’ friends are 김, 이, and 박. But what about your name?
Seol: My name is not that common.
Keith: 윤? But actually most of the people around me, maybe this is just personal, but a lot of people around me. I know a lot of 윤.
Seol: Really? Except my cousins, my relatives, I don’t know any 윤.
Keith: Really?
Seol: No.
Keith: Nobody?
Seol: No.
Keith: Wow!
Seol: Wow…
Keith: No really, I know about four or five different people different families but they are all 윤.
Seol: Oh really? Well, I don’t know, I don’t know those 윤s.
Keith: They all left Korea.
Seol: Maybe that’s why.
Keith: They all moved to the same place. They’re starting a family again. They’re going to start another 본관.
Seol: 미국 윤?
Keith: 미국 윤. All right. And what kind of 윤씨 are you?
Seol: I am 파평 윤씨.
Keith: And where is that, by the way?
Seol: 파평 is located in 경기도, so my ancestors came from 파평.
Keith: And are there any other 윤씨s?
Seol: Yes, there is 해남 윤씨 and I also know the ancestor of 해남 윤 whose name is 윤선도, he was very famous.
Keith: Actually, could you give us that story? That story was very interesting.
Seol: This person, the ancestor of 해남 윤 was basically a politician but he did something bad, so he was exiled and he went to 해남. And he made a new family name 해남 윤.
Keith: So, these names are not likely fixed, but you can create new names as well?
Seol: Sure, you can make a really fun name like 미국 김 if you want.
Keith: Well, actually, most people just take their father's family name. But if you wanted to, you can make one too.
Seol: I guess so.
Keith: And actually there are a couple of programs on TV that talk about 외국인, foreigners, that come to Korea they stay for a couple of years, and hey, I want Korean citizenship. So…
Seol: He or she makes the new Korean name with a new 본관.
Keith: I don’t think it happens that often, but…
Seol: It can happen.
Keith: Yeah, that sounds actually very interesting, and I think, my cousins, they have Chinese last names like Yang.
Seol: Oh…
Keith: I’m not a 100 percent sure on this, but I was told my cousin's name 양 was actually a Chinese name.
Seol: Maybe. Or 주?
Keith: 주, yeah? I can see that too. So maybe that’s what happened, they just immigrated over and started their own family names.
Seol: Yeah.
Keith: Okay. All right, so just like we mentioned before, Korean names, people, when they’re born, they usually take their father’s family name. But does everybody in the family take that name?
Seol: No. The wife does not take her husband’s names so, she still has her own family name. In my family, my mom is the only one who has the family name 나.
Keith: 나? That’s actually very unique too.
Seol: That’s very unique.
Keith: And actually, most family names are one syllable, but sometimes you will see two syllables or three syllables
Seol: Sure like 독고, 황보.
Keith: 남궁.
Seol: 남궁.


Keith: So there is not a lot of variety, but this is some variety here and there like splashes of two syllables, we are not all just Kims over here. We have some variety. All right, so that’s going to do it. Remember to stop by KoreanClass101.com and and pick up our lesson notes. All the vocabulary words that came out in this lesson, and also a detailed explanation on how Korean names work is written in the PDF. So remember to check that up. So that’s going do it. Bye-bye .
Seol: Bye.