South Korean Culture

Naming

  • Korean names are usually three syllables long, formatted as [surname] [personal name] [personal name], with one syllable for each name. For example, PAK Jang Su. 
  • Both the personal names are considered to be first names. The concept of a ‘middle name’ is not followed in South Korea.
  • The surname comes before the personal names, reflecting how the family comes before the individual in South Korean culture. 
  • Koreans living in Western societies may reverse the order of their names to fit the structure of one’s personal name preceding their family name (e.g. Jang Su PAK).
  • While surname is one usually syllable, some may be two syllables. For example, in the name 'NAM GUNG Min', NAM GUNG is the surname and Min is the first name.
  • It can be difficult to differentiate a person’s gender from their name in South Korea.
  • It is common for women to retain their own family name upon marrying. At times she may use her husband’s family name when conversing with non-Koreans.
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