Many Asian people decide to take an “English nickname” so that they can better be remembered by their foreign friends. Although, we as Americans, may find this strange, trust me– it does help out! I am fairly skilled at remembering Korean names so I usually just ask them their Korean name and call them/save their number that way, but there are times that I don’t even know some friends’ Korean names. My best friend, Victoria, for example. I have been good friends with her for about 8 months and just found out her Korean name less than a month ago. She prefers to be called her English name, so I happily oblige. Anyway, many new people I meet ask me if I have a Korean name. As you can imagine, they aren’t as versed to hearing our strange names and often have a hard time remembering them. A Korean’s name is made up of three syllables. First their family name, then their first and middle name/syllable. Rarely, you will find a Korean with just a two-syllable name- it even seems to throw Koreans off. When a couple marries, the woman’s family name doesn’t change. When child is born, he is given his mother’s family name and then the two additional syllables. The meaning of his name is of great significance. The meanings are usually found from the Chinese meaning.
For the past 14 months, I have answered the “Do you have a Korean name” question with, “No. Only Kasham.” Which is basically the phonetic way to say my name in Korean writing. My students had decided that I needed a Korean name. They asked me what my name means and I proudly told them “Beautiful.” Taking that into consideration they had me leave the room (on break) and came up with a list of 4 or 5 names they felt to be appropriate for me. Names with meanings like: Beautiful and lovely, beautiful and happy, beautiful and flower. Ultimately, 은미희 (pronounced uh-N me he) was chosen. It means: DIVINE FAVOR, BEAUTIFUL & HAPPY. Wow, what an honor. Of course, I will still go by Kasham– no legal name change forseen in the future haha– but now I can proudly answer that question with a yes and it will be easier for many to remember my name.