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Foreigners Adopt Korean Names

Posted November. 12, 2005 08:44,   


Frasier Matthew (40), marketing managing director of the multinational pharmaceutical company GSK Korea, is known as “managing director Ma” both in and out of the company.

His Korean name is Ma Tae-ho. Company President Kim Jin-ho gave Matthew the name after he saw him contemplating how to associate himself with coworkers and clients when he was assigned to Korea on June.

“Ma Tae” comes from the Korean pronunciation of Matthew, and “Ho” was conceived from the fact that several employees in the company including the president have names that end in “Ho.”

A Growing Number of Foreigners in Korea are Giving Themselves Korean Names-

Having a Korean name allows one to easily adapt to life in Korea and can even be advantageous in business.

Douglas Barber (55), general manager at Sofitel Ambassador Seoul, also has a Korean name, Park Duk-woo.

Barber made himself a Korean name as soon as he arrived in Korea in 2003. “Park” comes from “Barber” and “Duk-woo” comes from “Douglas.” Not only does he have his Korean name printed on his business cards, he also has then on the ends of his shirtsleeves.

Within the multinational pharmaceutical company Lilly Korea, the 300 employees of the company presented their president Rob Smith (49) with a Korean name, Woo In-seong, which was conceived through a naming competition within the company.

The name Woo In-seong is a combination of the first syllables from the company’s three values “woo-soo-seong (excellence),” “in-gan-jon-joong (respect for humanity)” and “seong-shil-seong (diligence).” The selected name is known to have been the winner in a close match that included names such as “Seo Min-soo,” which sounds similar to Smith, and “Nam Sam-shik,” a combination of Rob’s Korean pronunciation Nam and Sam-shik, the name of the male character in a popular Korea drama.

Smith said, “Even those who meet me for the first time warm up as soon as they see the Korean name on my business card.”

Vikas Patel (41), CEO of the contact lens company Ciba Vision Korea, is nicknamed Bacchus. His clients are said to have recommended this because his name reminded them of a Korean drink named Bacchus.

Some famous foreign figures received Korean names due to a special bond they have with Korea.

This year Leon LaPorte, commander of the United States Forces Korea, was named Na Bo-tae, which means “huge treasure.”

Korean fans of Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill gave him the name Han Duk. Sa Gong-il, chairman of the Institute for Global Economics, presented Jeffrey Jones, chairman of the Partners for the Future Foundation and former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), with the name Jo Jae-pil.

During the 2002 World Cup Guus Hiddink was named Hee Dong-gu, and Jarold Varisano, marketing commissioner in the Korean Basketball League (KBL) uses the name Yoo Jerry.

Sun-Mi Kim kimsunmi@donga.com