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Let's Learn Korean!: Lesson 5

Keeping people's names straight can be confusing in Korea, because Koreans have a few family names at their disposal. It seems that well over half the people in Korea are named Lee, Kim , Choi, or Park. The paucity of names apparently goes back to the very beginning of the Korean people, when just a few families grew into a clan that eventually populated the entire peninsula.

Honorifics and title also loon large in Korea, and custom dictates that you address people by their family name plus the title of "Mr." "Mrs." or "miss", (or their professional or work-related title, such as "Doctor" "Professor") plus the honorific "nim" or Sonsengnim". When addressing someone by name, the honorific "Ssi", which is the equivalent of the Japanese "san", is usually added.

For example,


Address a married woman by using the last name plus "Puin".

For example,


If a woman is unmarried, the proper form of address is "Yang".

For example,


Foreigners may use "Mr.", "Mrs." or "miss" when addressing Koreans. Nevertheless, using the appropriate Korean titles shoes a cultural sensitivity and learning that will be appreciated.

"Professor Lee" would be addressed as Lee kyosunim, while "Dr. Choi" would be Choi paksanim.

Things you have to remember:

You should add 님 (nim) [nim] or 씨 (ssi) [sshe] at the end of the name/family name or title. This shows respect to the people older than you, people you just met, or a person who has a higher position than you.

Professor - 교수님 (kyosunim) [kyo-sew-nim]
Doctor- 박사님 (paksanim) [pack-sa-nim]
Teacher- 선생님 (seonsaengnim) [son-seng-nim]
President- 회장님 (heijangnim) [hui-jang-nim]

In summary

  1. Family name/name
  2. title
  3. honorific

If you have any questions you can contact me through

or Twitter: @chrizzycrazy

note on facebook:

make sure you are adding the name above NOT the Chrizel Alvarez one.

Thanks and Enjoy