Kim (Korean surname)

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Origin: Korea
Meaning: gold
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Kim (Korean surname)

Kim (occasionally romanized as Gim) is the most common family name in both Koreas and among the Korean diaspora. The hanja used for the name was borrowed from the Chinese character meaning "gold". The modern Mandarin pronunciation is jīn for the metal and the surname but the Korean pronunciation varies: as a common noun meaning "gold", it is pronounced [kɯm] (, geum) but, as a surname or in place names,[1] it retains its Middle Chinese pronunciation[2] of [kim] (, gim).

In Japan, some Koreans use the kanji either by itself or in combination with other characters. This is sometimes read as Kim and sometimes as Kane- (e.g. Kaneda, Kanemoto) in kun'yomi, but not every Japanese person who bears such name is of Korean descent.


Distribution of South Korean family names

21.6% of Korean people bear the family name Kim

  Kim, Gim, Ghim
  Lee, Yi, Rhee, Yie, Jee
  Park, Pak
  Choi, Choe
  Jung, Jeong, Chung, Cheong

As with most other Korean family names, there are many Kim clans, known in Korean as bon-gwan (본관, 本貫), each of which consists of individual Kim families. Most Kims belong to one of a few very large clans. Even within each clan, people in different families are not related to each other. These distinctions are important, since Korean law used to prohibit intermarriage in the same clan, no matter how remote the relationship; now, however, only those in a relationship of second cousins or closer are prohibited from marrying.

As with other Korean family names, the Kim clans are distinguished by the place from which they claim to originate. A very large number of distinct Kim clans exist, besides those listed here. The 2000 South Korean census listed 348 extant Kim lineages.[3]


The Uiseong (의성) Kim Clan traces its lineage back to the last prince of Silla, who later became a Monk. Some research states that the Old Kims are descended from the Great Huns: north Asian people, including Mongols, Turks and Koreans. Linguists say that old Koreans are derived from the Hun which were called "Xiongnu" by the Chinese.

Gimhae (Kimhae)

According to a story recorded only in the Samguk Yusa, in AD 48, Princess Heo Hwang-ok travelled from a country called "Ayuda" to Korea, where she married King Suro of Geumgwan Gaya and gave birth to 10 children, thus starting the Kim dynasty of Geumgwan Gaya, the capital of which was in present-day Goryeong County. The country of Ayuda is often identified with Ayodhya in India.[4]

Famous ancient members of this clan, aside from the kings of Geumgwan Gaya, include the Silla general Kim Yu-shin. In the Unified Silla period, members of the Gimhae Kim family were admitted to all but the highest level of the Silla bone rank system.

This clan is by far the most populous of all Korean clans. The 2000 South Korean census found it to contain more than four million people.

File:Kim surname pie chart.png


The Gyeongju Kims trace their descent from the ruling family of Silla. The founder of this clan is said to have been Kim Alji, an orphan adopted by King Talhae of Silla in the 1st century AD. Alji's seventh-generation descendant was the first member of the clan to take the throne, as King Michu of Silla in the year 262.

This clan is also extremely populous. In the South Korean census of 2000, more than 1.7 million citizens claimed to be Gyeongju Kims.


This clan is extremely rare. In the South Korean census of 2000, less than 10,000 citizens claimed to be Nagan Kims.


The Hamchang Kims trace their origin to the founder of the little-known Gaya state of Goryeong Gaya. His alleged tomb, rediscovered in the 16th century, is still preserved by the modern-day members of the clan. This clan numbered only 26,300 members in the 2000 South Korean census.


Two clans have been set as the main Andong exist.


Gwangsan Kim clan was one of the famous and respected Kim clans during the Joseon Dynasty.

Gwangsan Kim clan (Kwangsan Kim clan) (Hangul: 광산김씨) [5] was one of the most prominent clans during the Joseon Dynasty. The members of the Gwangsan Kim clan are the descendants of Heung Gwang (흥광, 興 光) — who was the third prince of King Sinmu of Silla, the 45th monarch of the Silla Dynasty.


YaSeung clan from the City of YeongDeok, Gyeongbuk Korea. YaSeung means city in the wilderness(city name YaSeung was later changed to YeongDeok), dates back to Silla Dynasty. Yaseung Kim clan are now found in the United States. YaSeung Kim clan immigrated to the US in the early 1970s. As of 2013, they are found in California, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. YaSeung clan in the US work in the field of education, medicine, IT, legal, or other professional field.

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ For example, in the city names Gimhae (김해, 金海) and Gimpo (김포, 金浦).
  2. ^ Baxter, Bill. Baxter-Sagart Old Chinese Reconstruction, p. 61. 7 Aug 2006. Accessed 14 Jul 2013.
  3. ^ "성씨, 본관별 가구 및 인구". Retrieved 2006-10-04.  (Korean)
  4. ^
  5. ^ 조선왕조실록,순종실록부록,순종 18년8월21일. Joseon Annals, Aug. 21, 1925. No. 1

External links

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Kim (Korean surname). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

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