List Lists: Uncommon-rare native Korean names

Uncommon Native Korean names

Areum, Boram, Seulgi, these were some of the popular names of the late 80s and early 90s and they all derive from words of native Korean origin (as opposed to Korean words of Chinese origin). On this ‘List Lists’ post, I will be taking a look at those names which are uncommonly or rarely used in South Korea.

In order to determine the uncommonness of the name, I used a variety of sources available online (LinkedIn, Erumy and genealogy books from FamilySearch) – the last source is used to compile data on the occurrence of names written in hang(e)ul only, which is, as of the time of this writing, a work in progress.

The names shown here are most often used on people born in the 1980s and 1990s – particularly on females (unless otherwise stated) – and, for the first time in this series, IPA pronunciation is added next to these names.

Regarding pronunciation, the names are pronounced as if they were preceded by a surname that doesn’t end with k or p. When pronounced either in isolation or, for this post, preceded by a -k/p surname, the first voiced consonant, like b, j or g, becomes unvoiced ([b] > [p], [d͡ʑ] > [t͡ɕ], [g] > [k]). Also, regarding how they’re written, some of the names shown below may also be written with hanja characters.
  • Bitna/Binna (빛나) [binna̠] – this is the infinitive form of the verb 빛나다 (bitnada/binnada), made up of 빛 (bit) meaning “light” and verb 나다 (nada) meaning “to appear, arise” (this name can sometimes be seen on males)
  • Chorong (초롱) [t͡ɕʰo̞ɾo̞ŋ] – this is derived from the onomatopoeic word 초롱초롱 (chorong chorong) generally meaning “sparkling,” but can also mean “bright”
  • Sol (솔) [sʰo̞ɭ] – it has only one syllable and, for this instance, it refers to a pine tree (this name can sometimes be seen on males)
  • Saetbyeol (샛별) [sʰɛ̝ːt̚pjʌ̹ɭ] – this refers to the morning star, a combination of 새 (sae), a seamen’s term for the east (wind) and 별 (byeol) meaning “star,” thus giving Saetbyeol the literal meaning of “eastern star”
  • Mindeulle (민들레) [mindɯɭɭe̞] – a three-syllable name/word, this time referring to a dandelion, more specifically the Taraxacum platycarpum
  • Eutteum (으뜸) [ɯt͈ɯm] – this name/word generally means “the head, the best” or “basis, foundation” (this name is mostly, if not always, used on males)
  • Guseul (구슬) [gusʰɯɭ] – this refers to a bead (or a glass bead), a pearl or a marble
  • Kkotip/Kkonnip (꽃잎) [k͈o̞nnip̚] – this is derived from a combination of 꽃 (kkot) meaning “flower” and 잎 (ip) meaning “leaf,” thus forming this name/word meaning “petal”
  • Noeul (노을) [no̞ɯɭ] – this refers to the red sky, when the sun is starting to either rise or set (this name can sometimes be seen on males)
  • Dambi (담비) [da̠mbi] – this refers to a marten, specifically the yellow-throated marten or the sable
  • Bom (봄) [bo̞m] – this name/word means “spring” (as in the season)
  • Jaram (자람) [d͡ʑa̠ɾa̠m] – this is used as the formal non-polite verbal noun of the verb 자라다 (jarada) meaning “to grow”

What do you think of these names? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below the sources.

NAVER Korean-English Dictionary –
Wiktionary –


2 thoughts on “List Lists: Uncommon-rare native Korean names

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s