Unisex Names: Ha-neul


The unisex name being featured this month is a native Korean word/name that points up into the atmosphere. It’s Ha-neul.


The most common meaning found for this word/name is ‘sky.’¹²³ Other meanings found include ‘heaven’¹ and ‘air.’²


The name is pronounced as hah-nuwl (the uw sounding a bit like ‘pull’).


Ha-neul belongs to a group of native Korean words/names that became more widely used in the 1970s, 1980s and through to the 1990s with more popular examples being A-reum, Bo-ram and Seul-gi where A-reum ranked 7th for girls in 1988⁴, Bo-ram ranked 10th for girls at the same time⁴ and ranked 6th for female Chosun University students who graduated in 2010 in study made in the same year by Kang Hui-Suk⁵ & Seul-gi ranked 8th for girls in 1990⁶.
In that sense, this name trend seems to be mainly confined to baby girls, however whilst Seul-gi ranked in the top 10 for girls at one point, it is also used on boys/men.


Compared to, say, Ji-hye and Ji-hun, which were the most popular names of both 1980 and 1990, Ha-neul isn’t ranked in the official top 10 at all and it’s not even in the top 20 from that particular study.
Since we don’t have the numbers beyond the official top 10 at the moment, I decided to use LinkedIn and Facebook to find out whether Ha-neul is common or not and sort out the gender balance in that name*. Here’s what I found out:

  • Regarding it’s popularity, Ha-neul is relatively uncommon or, at the most, very slightly common.
  • Regarding it’s gender balance…trust me, this is the harder part of the two, but when averaging different gender balance percentages that I’ve got from my analysis, I would determine that the gender balance percentage for Ha-neul would be around 60-65% on the feminine side.

* – according to an article by the Chosun Ilbo, 844,615 wanted to change their names in the 2000s of which 730,277 were successful. I’m not sure how many people changed their names to Ji-hye, Ji-hun or Ha-neul, but it does show that what I’ve found on these two sites can leave some mark of discrepancy. However, I would estimate from this article that about 10-20,000 people out of the 730,277 successful applicants changed their names to the most popular names of that time (Seo-yeon and Min-jun), so I doubt the discrepancy would be large enough to affect the results completely.

What do you think of this name or this post in general? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below the sources.

Behind the Name on Ha-neul¹
Naver dictionary on the word ha-neul²
Wiktionary on the same word³
Naver article on popular names of 1948, ’58 and all the way to ’08⁴
Newsprime article on Kang Hui-suk’s study⁵
Baby Name’s list of popular names of 1940, ’50 and all the way to ’90⁶

One thought on “Unisex Names: Ha-neul

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