Advise Sought on Name (South Korean)

In designing a character, I am looking for advise on which form of a name I should use.

Jina Kim was the original name chosen which I was taught by my friend was an Americanized (Romanized?) version of Jin-ha Kim - yet while doing my research it seems the South Korean government has at least a couple hundred different ways of actually recording it.

My goal is to create a name recognizable as Korean (similar to singers and other famous people) but unique enough to make her own impression.

Would Jina Kim be acceptable worldwide or should I use Jin-ha Kim and have the name mirror real life people?

Any advise from someone of the Korean culture would be appreciated.

Thank you.


I’m going to summon @andymwhy since I’m having trouble naming my own characters, even though my setting is 100% fantasy.

And… sorry Andy for waking you up from the deep slumber :"

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How about… Kim Jong Un. :stuck_out_tongue:

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I’ve seen Korean names most commonly anglicized in either the second way or with that spelling but minus the dash. I did English tutoring for a while while I was in high school for two sisters named Linha and Yoonha respectively and I had a classmate whose full first name Jin Young

I tried looking on, but it doesn’t have a whole lot of Korean names yet so it doesn’t have it on the main database. It does have Ji-na and Jin-a as user submitted names though (with the meaning ‘precious child’ and hanja(?) spelling ‘진아’). I’ve rarely seen Korean names anglicized that way though and the main database uses names spelled in a similar way to Jin-ha, so I feel like Jin-ha would be most easily recognizable. Just ‘Jina’ could be easily read as an alternate spelling of ‘Gina’

I think the best way to find the most “accepted” style of romanization for the name though would to be look at naming sites or even lists of Korean celebrities that are created for a mainly English speaking audience in mind because they tend try to have a standard style so everything is recognizable and people could search for specific people without much difficulty. With databases by things like the South Korean government, the standard is in Hangul already so there probably isn’t much concern in deciding a standard romanization


Thank you for your input. I originally thought of this too, so I looked up the name in Wikipedia and the spelling is all over the place with singers, with Jin-a being most popular with younger singers and Ji-na being popular with older singers … then I started getting confused looking further into it with spellings being all over the map. ><

Oh, I’m Korean and usually I see it done as Jin-Ha/Jin-ha rather than Jina but usually most people don’t include the dash? So it would probably be more like Jinha Kim. Of course it’s really fine either way, you know? But I think Anglicization isn’t done all that often, at least where I’m from.

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Thank you for your input. I really appreciate it.

Edit: Does the meaning change if I chose one spelling over another?

No problem, I hope that helps a little :smile: Thanks for actually taking the time to make sure the naming is correct, most writers usually don’t do that.

Oh, replying to the edit, it does change the meaning because one is pronounced Jin-AH in Korean and the other is pronounced Jin-HA And the Chinese characters assigned to the names can be vastly different too.


Ooooh, yeah, wikipedia can get confusing with that sometimes :grimacing: And sometimes with singers (in most Asian countries it seems, not just Korea), especially with newer ones, they like to stylize their names/stage names in certain ways which makes things more confusing

With looking at multiple databases at least, you could probably eventually figure out which version is more popular?

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I think I’ll stick with Jinha Kim. That way I can honor my friend who helped me originally.

For the future I’ll be doing more research for sure. I just didn’t realize the complexity when I was envisioning this character… and now I’m running into deadlines and such to get things completed for this project :slight_smile:

@princecatling - While I have you here, is Danh Jao, an acceptable Vietnamese American name?

I’ve actually never heard Jao as a last name before and the best result I can find googling it is of a person whose father was ethnically Chinese/Hoa. From skimming a bit, it seems like it would be most used within that ethnic minority, so it would probably be an uncommon but okay name

With Danh, I think I either have a distance cousin or a former classmate with that name so it’s fine too :stuck_out_tongue:

Though with that name, if his family is from Northern Vietnam, the ‘d’ in his name would be pronounced like a ‘z’ while if they’re from Southern Vietnam, it would be kind of like a ‘y’ sound. I’m not super familiar with any type of linguistic stuff, so I don’t know if there would be a different variation for Central Vietnam? Vietnam is always divided into three regions, yet I’ve only really heard people talk about North and South in terms of dialect for some reason

(And also, unrelated, but my entire life I thought my family was Southern Vietnamese since all my relatives still in Vietnam live in Saigon, but this past summer I learned that my grandparents were both actually from Northern Vietnam and moved down South. I guess that solved the mystery of why one of my aunts has a Northern accent)


Writing out romanized Korean first names has been done at least three different ways. With the two elements as separate elements (Jin Ha), with the two elements connected by a hyphen (Jin-Ha), and with the two elements run together (Jinha). You can see that in the author information for this paper by three Koreans: “Users’ Music Information Needs and Behaviors: Design Implications for Music Information Retrieval Systems” (link goes to a pdf).

Also note that an individual may write their name in English using more than one method. The official romanization of Korean allows for both hyphenated and combined romanizations of given names. I tend to write Korean names in my stories in the combined form, since to me that better reflects how the name is written in hangeul.

Korean names often have Chinese characters (called hanja in Korean) associated with them. Here is the Naver dictionary list of possible hanja for jin (진) and possible hanja for ha (하) as well as the Korean-English dictionary (you tend not to get much if you search by the hanja in the Korean-English dictionary, so you’ll have to grab the hangeul and search by that, though it may be easier to use Wiktionary for looking up the meanings).

And as @Lilypad76 pointed out, Jina (진아) and Jinha (진하) are different.


Thank you for taking the time to type all this out -

This seems to be reasonable to me as well, I chose to use Jinha …

Thank you for replying.

For the name 김진하 (Kim Jin Ha) the correct way would be Jinha Kim. However it is very common for names to be anglicised to a more common English name. In this case, that would likely be Jina or Gina. I’d stick with Jinha, though, as it leaves no doubt over the nationality of the character. No hyphens are needed.