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This Question Came to My Inbox: “Can you tell the difference between Chinese and Korean names?”

Yes, there is a big difference between Korean and Chinese names. Sometimes, there is an overlap, but usually, you can tell the difference. To begin with, Korean names are usually one syllable each and each person has three syllables. The first one is their family name, and the other two are given names. Sometimes the two given names are one word, but they can be two different words. Here are some examples of Korean names of friends of mine: 1) “Yun Hanul”: “Yun” is the family name, and “Hanul” is a two syllable name that mans “sky.” 2) “Bak Ha Min”: “Bak” is the family name. “Ha” refers to “God,” and “Min” means “person,” so the two names together mean “God’s person.” 3) “Kim Yong Hee.” : “Kim” is the family name. “Yong” means “Dragon.” I am not sure what “Hee” means. …Bak and Kim are two of the most common family names in Korea. Another common family name that is just as common as these is “Lee,” but the Koreans say “Ee.” They add the “L” when they put it in English just as they often add an “r” to “Bak” and change the “B” to a “P” and call themselves “Park.” Koreans also like Bible names.

Koreans like Bible names. Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

I have friends in Korea who are named things like “Joseph, David, Grace, Esther, Mary, James, etc.” Sometimes their parents give them these names as part of their given name or as their given name, and sometimes they take the name later because they want an “English” name and want one related to the Bible It is very common for Koreans to have a Korean name and an English name.

I don’t know as much about Chinese names as I do about Korean names, but I can tell the difference when I see them or hear them. Photo by Lian Rodríguez on Pexels.com

As for the Chinese, from what I understand, their family name comes first too, and then they have a given name, not two given names like the Koreans. I don’t know as many Chinese people as I do Koreans, but their names are things like “Ming, Zang, Xiaoping, Qingling.” You can see a distinct difference between these names and the ones above. There is a whole different character to them. There is a Chinese name: “Kyeol” that is actually a Korean word meaning “winter,” but the Koreans would never call their kids that, only the Chinese use it as a name.

용 (Yong) means “Dragon” in English. There is a famous singer in Korea named “Dragon.” He goes by the meaning of his name in English. Photo by Vladislav Vasnetsov on Pexels.com

At times, the names can overlap. I have a friend in Korean whose family name is “An.” I never asked him what it meant, but there is a Chinese girl’s name “An” that means Chinese peace. The difference it “An” is the Korean family name, and “An” is the Chinese given name. Occasionally, you get a Korean name that sounds Chinese. I have a friend in Korea with the two given names “Sang Yang.” The “Yang” part means “sheep” in Korean, but I have no idea if they use that name in China or if it means the same thing, but with the “ang” on the end of “Sang” and “Yang,” the name has a Chinese feel.

I hope this will help you see the difference between Korean and Chinese names.

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