S-Space College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학) Center for Social Sciences (사회과학연구원) Korean Social Sciences Review (KSSR) Korean Social Sciences Review (KSSR) Vol.03, No.01/02 (2013)
From Multiple Names to a Single Name: A Comparative Analysis of Names in Household Registers and Genealogical Records in Korea
- Oh, Chang Hyun; Ryu, Sang Yun
- Issue Date
- Korean Social Sciences Review(KSSR), Vol.3 No.1, pp. 183-221
- (Modern) household register; genealogical record; name; and naming; Minjŏk Law; Yangban; Hangni; Korea
- Translated by Ria Chae from an article published in Korean Cultural Anthropology vol. 42, no. 2: 107-144 with permission from Korean Society for Cultural Anthropology.
- This study examines naming customs in Korea during the early 20th century by comparing personal names recorded in official household registers with the names in private genealogical records. The documents examined pertain to two clans residing in a ri (里, village) in North Chŏlla province. The research is based on data recovered from documents because it was not feasible to rely solely on data elicited from the memories of informants. The research yielded two interesting findings. Firstly, the introduction of the Minjŏk Law in 1909 brought an end to the traditional custom in which men received a new personal name upon reaching adulthood. We assume that the difficulties of changing a name recorded in the modern register precipitated the change from multiple naming to giving a single, lifelong name at birth. Secondly, the members of a clan of yangban origin made more consistent efforts to inscribe an identical name in both documents, whereas a clan of hyangni origin did not always do so. Hence, different attitudes toward official household registers may have been upheld according to the social origin of the clan, given that the records in the household register were of particular importance for eligibility to take the civil service examination during the Chosŏn period. In spite of the introduction of the modern register, traditional attitudes of the yangban continued to find expression in the naming practices of yangban clans.