100 Korean Last Names With Meanings And History

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Mar 01, 2024 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Nov 01, 2020
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Baby sleeping with her teddy bear on the bed.
Age: 0-99
Read time: 8.1 Min

Korean films, food, music, language, and culture have gained worldwide popularity.

Contrary to the tradition in many other countries, in both North Korea and South Korea, surnames and the level of generation precedes the first name. People are given their first name and surname together in Korea.

Did you know that, according to the last census, there are a total of  286 Korean last names? The super-popular K-pop boy bands of South Korea, such as BTS and Monsta X, use their first names, and not their surnames, as their professional name. This is to differentiate their names from the more common family names in Korea, most of which are not even officially registered! Although, with the onset of globalization, this is gradually changing. Curious to find out more about Korean last names? Here's a list of the most popular Korean surnames, and for more last names from around the world, take a look at these Indian last names and these Brazilian last names.

Popular Korean Last Names

Little baby watching children book with pictures.

Korean culture is interesting and so are its last names. With a rich culture and history behind them, Korean surnames are surrounded by a multitude of interesting stories and facts. Here are some of the most popular Korean last names that will amp up your knowledge about Korean naming traditions. Let's dive right in.

1. Bae meaning "a pear".

2.Baek meaning "white".

3. Byun meaning "edge or border". This last name is associated with South Korean football player Ho-young Byun.

4. Cha meaning "a chariot". Korean author Victor Cha is known by this surname.

5. Chay meaning "brushwood".

6. Cheong meaning "quiet or gentle". It is a form of Jeong.

7. Chong meaning "stretch or extend". It is derived from 'Xhang.' It is an occupational surname that originated from people who were into bow-making.

8. Chu meaning "vermilion red". It comes from 'Zhu', a Chinese word.

9. Chun meaning "field".

10. Goe meaning "high". It is a form of 'Ko'.

11. Han meaning "country or leader". Other forms of this last name our 'Hahn' and 'Haan'.

12. Heo meaning "to permit or advocate". South Korean actress Jung-eun Heo has this surname.

13. Hwang meaning "yellow", formed from the Chinese word 'Huang'.

14. Hyun meaning "profound or mysterious".

15. Joh is an "ancient city". The surname was formed from Shanxi province. It is a form of 'Cho,' derived from 'Zhao'.

16. Jong meaning "ancient state". Itis a spelling form of 'Jeong,' formed from 'Zheng'.

17. Ju meaning "circumference". It is formed from the word 'Zhou'.

18. Kang meaning "ginger".

19. Kim meaning "gold". It is a variant of 'Jin'. It is the most common Korean last name. Korean actor and producer Daniel Kim, popular for 'Lost' series, has this surname.

20. Kwock meaning "a surrounding area".

21. Mong meaning "ignorance or suffer". It is a variant of 'Meng'.

22. Nahm meaning "south".

23. Shin meaning "descended from the five Shin Clans". They lived in the Chinese and Korean peninsular regions.

24. Shen meaning "to sink".

25. Sin it was the name of an ancient state in the Xia dynasty, and is a variant of 'Xin.' It is a topographical Korean surname.

26. Sung meaning "from the Song dynasty".

27. Wang meaning "King or monarch." Korean judo world champion Ki-Chun Wang made this surname popular.

28. Yee meaning "plum". It is a spelling variant of 'Lee' or 'Li'.

29. Yuan meaning "beautiful or graceful". It is a variant of Juan.

Common Korean Last Names

Here are some of the most common Korean last names. See if you can find any of the Korean last names of your favorite K-drama characters in this list?

30. Ahn meaning "tranquility". It is one of the most commonly found last names in Korea.

31. Chi meaning "branch". It is a spelling variant of 'Zhi.'

32. Chin meaning "exhibit or ancient". It is formed from 'Chen.' This surname is made famous by South Korean politician Young Chin.

33. Cho meaning "an ancient city". This ancient city is in Shanxi province, it is a popular Korean last name formed from 'Zhao.'

34. Choi meaning "lofty or a high tower".

35. Chung meaning "an ancient state". It is in the Henan province, it is a common Korean surname that is a variant of the toponymic last name 'Zheng'.

36. Ha (Roman origin) meaning "summer or grand". It is the Romanized version of 'Xia.'

37. Hahm meaning "seller of weighing scales". It is a western Korean occupational surname.

38. Ho meaning "brave or fierce." Famous South Korean actor Im Ho's surname means.

39. Jang meaning "archer," and is a spelling variant of 'Zhang.'

40. Jee means 'will' or 'ambition'. Other surname variants include 'Ji' or 'Zhi'.

41. Jeon meaning "field". A variant of 'Chon' or 'Chun.'

42. Jeong this surname is formed from an ancient state 'Zheng', a state in China. Ken Jeong is a Korean-American actor known for 'Crazy Rich Asians'.

43. Ju meaning "circumference". North Korean soccer player Kwang-min Ju has this last name.

44. Jue meaning "cinnabar".

45. Jung is formed from Zheng, an ancient state in China. Jung Il-woo is a Korean actor know for 'My Love'.

46. Jiang meaning "ginger".

47. Keng derived from the Chinese surname 'Jiang'.

48. Ko meaning "derived from those living in the Korean peninsula or Ko dynasty". This Korean name was formed from the area the individuals inhabited.

49. Kwack meaning "the outer part of a city; country".

50. Kwak meaning "the outer part of a city or country". It is a spelling variant of 'Guo and 'Gwak'.

51. Kwan meaning "border pass".

52. Lee meaning "plum tree". It is formed from the Sino Korean word 'Li.'

53. Lin meaning a "forest".

54. Min meaning '"smart or clever." Popular BTS K-pop singer Min.

55. Pu meaning "simple". Derived from the word, 'Bak'.

56. Quon meaning "power or authority". It is a spelling variant of 'Kwon' or 'Quan.'

57. Ra meaning "good or virtuous".

58. Reeh meaning "plum tree".

59. Suh is a variant of 'So,' and is derived from the family name of the ancestors and emperors of Old Choson Kingdom.

60. Tak was passed on by T'ak Chi-yop, a scholar from the Koryo Kingdom, whose followers adopted his first name as their surname.

61. Tan meaning "display". It has been gotten from 'Chen'.

62. Tang - it is derived from the ruler of Tang dynasty.

Cool Korean Last Names

Little sister hugging her baby brother in the morning.

Let's find out come cool last names in Korean.

63. Bak meaning "fruit". It is the third most common last name in Korea.

64. Bang meaning "room". This last name is associated with Korean actress and writer Diana Bang.

65. Chai (Chinese origin) meaning "firewood". Korean variant of Chae. Inspired by Gao Chai discipline of Confucius.

66. Chew meaning "ancient state of Zhu". It is a variant of 'Zhu' or 'Chu,' and is a toponymic last name. It was also the family name of Emperors of the Ming dynasty.

67. Da-gyeong meaning "capital city". South Korean actress Yoon Da-gyeong has this last name.

68. Dong-Seok meaning "East stone". Ma Dong-Seok is a Korean-American actor known for 'Train To Busan'.

69. Gae meaning "dog". It is one of the rarest Korean surnames.

70. Gang (Chinese origin) meaning "ginger". It is a Korean family name originated from the Chinese word 'Jiang'.

71. Geun-young meaning "rooted and brave". Moon Geun-young is a South Korean actress known for 'My Little Bride'.

72. Gim (Chinese origin) meaning "gold". Gimhae Gim clan is a Korean clan.

73. Hong (Chinese origin) meaning "expand or great". Popular Korean actor and screenwriter Gene Hong has this last name.

74. Im meaning "forest". Derived from the word 'Lin'.

75. In meaning "stamp or India". It is formed from the word 'Yin'.

76. Jang-hoon meaning "wisdom in the middle". This name is linked with South Korea basketball player turned entertainer Seo Jang-hoon.

77. Jin (Chinese origin) meaning "gold". South Korean track and field sprinter Sun-Kuk Jin has this surname.

78. Ku meaning "tool or utensil".

79. Kuk (Chinese origin) meaning "country". It is formed from the Chinese word 'Guo'. Shine Kuk is a South Korean actress.

80. Kwak meaning "the outer part of a city or country".

81. Myung meaning "bright or brilliant." North Korean football manager Rye-Hyun Myung carries this last name.

82. No meaning "field; wilderness".

83. Oh meaning "the ancient state of Wu".

84. Ok meaning "oak tree". Korean activist Kwan-bin Ok made this name famous.

85. Paek meaning "white color".It is a variant of Paik or Baik.

86. Pak meaning "plain" or "unadorned".

87. Pan meaning "rinsed water from washing rice". It also means "water flowing into the Han River".

88. Park meaning "simple or unadorned".

89. Rim meaning "forest".

90. Ryu meaning "willow tree". South Korean baseball player Hyun-jin Ryu is known by this last name.

91. Sa it is an unusual name and one of the rarest South Korean surnames.

92. Song descended as the last name from the Song dynasty.

93. Woo is an ancient state of 'Wu'. It is located in the Jiangsu province.

94. Yang meaning "bridge".

95. Yeon meaning "beautiful; graceful". This name was made famous by a member of the popular girl group 'Baby VOX', Kan Mi Yeon.

96. You (Chinese origin) meaning "reason".

97. Yun meaning "to oversee". Korean independence activist Bong-Gil Yun carries this surname.

98. Yeoh meaning "river".

99. Yum was a Korean clan that never got back its lost glory.

100. Yi meaning "joy and harmony".

Kidadl has lots of great names articles to inspire you. If you liked our suggestions for Korean last names then why not take a look at these Belgian last names, or for something different take a look at these Thai last names.

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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