Family Names in Korea Become More Diverse

Family names and clans have grown more diverse in Korea, attesting to the rising number of foreigners who become naturalized Korean citizens. According to statistics compiled by the Supreme Court, the number of naturalized Korean citizens who created new family names and clans rose from 1,523 in 2006 to 4,884 in 2009.

Naturalized Korean citizens are free to use their existing family names, but more and more of them want to create new ones. Even naturalized citizens who choose the common family names Kim, Park or Lee want to form their own clans based in the parts of Korea where they settled or have grown fond of.

TV celebrity Robert Harley set up the Yeongdo Ha clan based in the Busan region where he used to live, while Lee Charm, the chief of the Korea Tourism Organization who was naturalized in 1986, is the founder of the German Lee clan.

Some have created unique Korean family names. Ida Daussy, a popular French TV personality, registered her own surname in Korea. She says she did not want to change her original family name handed down from her parents.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 25, 2011 11:06 KST