16th century Korean names

Compiled by Ásfríðr Ulfvíðardóttir/ Rebecca Lucas.

This list focuses on female names, and pennames, since they are harder to find, but hopefully both genders will be represented.
Korean names are comprised of a family name (seong, 성) and a personal name (myeong, 명), together called ireum (이름) or seongmyeong (성명) (Wikipedia, 2009). Family names come first. If names are listed without a source, then they are most likely from Wikipedia pages. I'm hoping to find more scholarly sources for them soon.
This page is not exhaustive by any means, it is only an attempt to put together some 16th century names. Please, if you see a name you like the sound of, or want to know more about, try searching the internet or visit your local library!

Female Names

  • Ho Chohui (許楚姬, 허초희) (1563-1589) -- poet. (Kweon, 2003)
  • Hwang Jin-i (黃眞伊, 황진이) (c. 1520-1560) -- gisaeng and poet. (O'Rourke, 2004)
  • Sim Su-Gyeong (沈守慶, 심수경) (1516-1599) -- poet. (National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage)
  • Sin Sa-im-dang (申師任堂, 신사임당) (1504-1551) -- painter and poet. According to Yi, Sa-im-dang was her nickname, not her birth name (Yi, 2004, 58). Hunt suggests her birth name is Sin Pu-in (申夫人, 신부인), however he has obviously misunderstood, as this really means 'Madam Sin.' (Hunt, 1930; 22)
  • Yi Hyang-geum (李香今) (1573-1610) -- gisaeng, musician and poet. (Yi, 2004, 58)
  • Yi Sug-weon (李淑媛) (?-1592?) -- poet. (Mann, 2004;8, Kim Haboush, 2004;113, Chang et al. 1999;215)
  • Jang-geum (長今, 장금) -- 16th century medical woman (Wikipedia, 2008)
  • Kye-geum -- 16th century medical woman mentioned with Jang-geum (Wikipedia, 2008).

Gisaeng Names, Studio Names and Literary Names

Includes undated names, that could roughly be 15-18th century!
  • Gyerang (桂娘 or 癸娘, 계랑) -- gisaeng name of Yi Hyang-geum (Nate dictionary; Kim, 2001)
  • Hanu (寒雨,한우) -- mid-Joseon period gisaeng. Her name means 'cold rain'.(Kim, 2001; Wikipedia)
  • Hongnang -- 16th century poet (Lee, 2007; Kim 1996, 118)
  • Ilchwi (일취) -- literary name of Sim Su-Gyeong. (National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage)
  • Kyesaeng (癸生, 계생) -- literary name of Yi Hyang-geum (O'Rourke, 2004; 114)
  • Maehwa (매화) -- undated gisaeng name. Means 'plum blossom' according to Kim, but could also be 'apricot blossom'. (Kim, 2001)
  • Maech'ang (梅窓, 매창) -- literary name of Yi Hyang-geum (Yi, 2004, 58)
  • Myeong-ok (明玉, 명옥) -- undated giseang name, means 'jade moon'. (Kim, 2001)
  • Myeong-wol (明月, 명월) -- gisaeng name of Hwang Jin-i. Her name means 'bright moon'.
  • Nansorhon (蘭雪軒, 난설헌)-- literary name of Ho Choui. (Kweon, 2003; Lee, 2007)
  • Nongae (論介, 논개) -- family name name known to be Ju -- gisaeng who when called to entertain Japanese generals, at a pavillion next to the river Nam, lead one to a nearby cliff, embraced him, and threw herself into the water killing them both.
  • Okpong -- Studio name of Yi Sug-weon. (Chang et al. 1999; 215, O'Rourke, 2004;113)
  • Sochunpung (笑春風, 소춘풍) -- gisaeng from the time of King Sungjong (1469-1494). Her name means 'Smiling Spring Breeze'. (Kim, 2001)
  • Songi (松伊, 송이) -- undated gisaeng name. Roughly means 'pine-tree'. (Kim, 2001)
  • Wolhyang (月香, 월향) -- family name Kye (桂, 계), attempted to murder the General Konishi Yukinaga. Her name seems to mean 'fragrant moon.' (Wikipedia ref.)
    Another story on the internet says she was involved in the beheaded a General in the Ryongwang Pavillion in Pyongyang, and there is a memorial there. (Here is a photograph, on the official North Korean webportal!)

Male Names

  • Heo Mok (許穆, 허목) (1595-1682) -- Scholar and artist. (Hunt, 1930; 21) (Han'guk yoktae inmul, 2009)
  • Gim Munpyo -- 16th century writer. (Yi et al. 2006; 22-3)
  • Yi Hwang (李滉, 이황) (1501-1570) -- Confucian scholar.
  • Yi I (李珥, 이이) (1536-1584) -- Confucian scholar.
  • Yi Kwal (李适, 이괄) (1587-1624) -- Joseon-dynasty general.

Male Pennames

  • Misu (眉叟, 미수) -- penname of Heo Mok (Hunt, 1930; 21).
  • Toegye (退溪, 퇴계) -- penname of Yi Hwang.
  • Yulgok (栗谷, 율곡) -- penname of Yi I.


  • Chang, Kang-i Sun, Saussy, Haun, and Kwong, Charles Yim-tze Women Writers of Traditional China (Stanford University Press, 1999).
  • Han'guk yoktae inmul Online database at the Academy of Korean Studies.
  • Hunt, Charles. 1930. "Some Pictures and Painters of Corea" Transactions of the Korea Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (19) pp.1-34
  • Kim Kichung An introduction to classical Korean literature (M.E. Sharpe, 1996)
  • 김영락 (Kim Yong-Rahg) 영역 시조―한시선 (Old Poems of Korea) Available online.
  • Kweon Young The textual and imaginary world of Ho Kyongbon (1563-1589) [Masters Thesis, McGill University] (2003)
    PDF Available Online.
  • Lee In "Heo Nanseolheon and Hongnang: Two Genius Poetesses in Joseon's Macho Society" Korean Heritage 2007.
    Available Online.
  • Mann, Susan "Introduction" in Grace S. Fong, Nanxiu Qian, Harriet Thelma Zurndorfer [eds.] Beyond Tradition and Modernity (Netherlands, Brill: 2004)
  • O'Rourke, Kevin "Demythologizing Hwang Chin-i" in Young-Key Kim-Renaud [ed] Creative women of Korea (M.E. Sharpe, 2004) 96-121
  • Wikipedia Janggeum, 25th December 2008.
  • Wikipedia Korean Name, 26th May 2009.
  • Yi I-Hwa, Lee E-Wha and Park, Ju-Hee Korea's Pastimes and Customs: A Social History (Homa & Sekey Books, 2006)
  • Yi Seong-mi "Sin Saimdang: The Foremost Woman Painter of the Choseon Dynasty" in Young-Key Kim-Renaud [ed] Creative women of Korea (M.E. Sharpe, 2004) 58-73