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More Koreans Are Changing Their Names

Posted January. 19, 2006 03:12,   


A Supreme Court ruling that eased name-change requirements has led to a surge in number of people who have changed their names.

Dong-A Ilbo reported the ruling on November 23, 2005. As of January 18, 2006, the number of name-change applications has skyrocketed nationwide.

The record high number of applications was in December 2005.

A Supreme Court official said, “After the report that the conditions on changing names were eased, the number of name-change applications for changing names surged to 11,518 in December.”

According to the Supreme Court, it is the first time that more than 10,000 applications a month were submitted to courts across the nation since 2000, when the statistics on the number of applications began to be compiled.

From January through November last year, 5,572 applications per month on average were submitted to 18 courts (including district courts) such as Seoul Family Court.

Except for August (7,661 applications), the number of applications remained around 5,000 a month. The sudden rise in the number of applications in August could be attributed to fad sparked by the TV drama “My Name is Kim Sam-soon.”

Since August, the number dropped to about 5,000 and rose significantly again in November when Dong-A Ilbo reported the easing of conditions. In December, the number was almost twice the monthly average.

Suwon District Court received the greatest number of applications (9,532), followed by Busan District Court (7,743), and Daegu District Court (6,771).

Along with the increasing number of applications, there have been changing reasons for changing names.

In the afternoon of January 17, the public service center on the first floor of Seoul Family Court in Seocho, Seoul was crowded with people asking questions about changing names and submitting their applications. The window for changing names was the busiest there.

An official of the public service center said, “On average, 15-20 applications used to be submitted a day. After the report on the Supreme Court ruling, the number of applications rose to 35-40.”

A family registry department official of the Seoul Supreme Court said, “The number of applications has increased, and the reasons for the name changes have became more varied. Even those who have names that do not appear strange at all are applying to change their names for a variety of reasons, including, “I don’t like my name.” In the past, only those who had strange-sounding names or hard to pronounce names applied to change them.

Ji-Seong Jeon verso@donga.com