Baby Name Trends in South Korea

popular baby names in south korea, 2008-2013
The top baby names in S. Korea are Min-jun (boys) and Seo-yeon (girls).

In South Korea, parents are slowly moving away from traditional methods of choosing baby names.

Name decisions used to be made either by a grandfather or by a professional baby namer (who would use the Chinese zodiac to spot “weaknesses” in the baby’s fate and choose a name to help counter those weaknesses). While many parents still consult with professionals, the belief that choosing a name via astrology can affect a baby’s fate is less common than it once was.

So how are parents in Korea choosing names these days? In various ways…

  • Some are choosing names based on how easy they are to pronounce in English, avoiding tricky Korean syllables such as “Eun” and “Eo.”
  • Some are looking to pop culture (especially celebrities and reality TV) for names.
  • Some are taking a more creative route, turning Korean words into names. (One woman interviewed by Arirang News mentioned her son’s name was Ara, from the Korean word for “sea.”)
  • Some are going for a unisex sound with syllables like “ji” and “bin.”

According to Arirang News, the most popular baby names in South Korea from 2008 through most of 2013 were Seo-yeon for girls and Min-jun for boys:

Top Girl Names Top Boy Names
1. Seo-yeon
2. Ji-won
3. Seo-young
4. Su-yeon
5. Seo-hyeon
6. Min-seo
7. Min-jeong
8. Min-ju
9. Ji-yun
10. Yu-jin
1. Min-jun
2. Ji-hun
3. Hyun-wu
4. Min-seong
5. Dong-hyeon
6. Jeong-wu
7. Do-hyeon
8. Hyeon-jun
9. Geon-wu
10. Min-jae

Sources: Baby-naming in Korea: What are the most popular names?, The Most Popular Baby Names in Korea, South Korea: parents pick names that foreigners can pronounce (h/t Onomastics.co.uk)


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