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Bon-gwan is the concept of clan in Korea, which is used to distinguish clans that happen to share a same family name (clan name). Since Korea has been traditionally a Confucian country, this clan system is similar to ancient Chinese distinction of clan names or xing (姓) and lineage names or shi (氏).
A Korean clan is a group of people that share the same paternal ancestor and is indicated by the combination of a bon-gwan and a family name (clan name). However, a bon-gwan isn't treated as a part of a Korean person's name. The bon-gwan and the family name are passed on from a father to his children, thus ensuring that persons in the same paternal lineage share the same combination of the bon-gwan and the family name. A bon-gwan does not change by marriage or adoption.
Bon-gwan are used to distinguish different lineages that bear the same family name. For example, the Gyeongju Kim and the Gimhae Kim are considered different clans, even though they happen to share the same family name Kim. In this case, Gyeongju and Gimhae are the respective bon-gwan of these clans.
Different family names sharing the same bon-gwan sometimes trace their origin to a common paternal ancestor, e.g. the Gimhae Kim clan and the Gimhae Heo clan share Suro of Geumgwan Gaya as their common paternal ancestor, though such case is exceptional.
Restrictions on marriage and adoption
Traditionally, a man and a woman in the same clan could not marry, so the combination of the bon-gwan and the family name of a husband had to differ from that of a wife. Until 1997, this was also the law, but this was ruled unconstitutional - and now DNA tests have superseded bon-gwan as an indication of one's lineage.
When adopting a child, the adoptive father and the adoptive child must share the same combination of the bon-gwan and the family name. However, in exceptional circumstances, adoptive parents can change an adopted child’s family name for the adopted child's welfare. In this case, the adoptive parents must visit a family court to request permission to change the family name.
|Hangul||Hanja||2015 South Korean population|
|김해 김씨[Note 1]||金海 金氏|
|밀양 박씨[Note 2]||密陽 朴氏|
|전주 이씨[Note 3]||全州 李氏|
|경주 김씨[Note 4]||慶州 金氏|
|경주 이씨||慶州 李氏|
|진주 강씨||晉州 姜氏|
|경주 최씨||慶州 崔氏|
|광산 김씨||光山 金氏|
|청주 한씨||淸州 韓氏|
|안동 권씨||安東 權氏|
|인동 장씨||仁同 張氏|
|순흥 안씨||順興 安氏|
|안동 김씨||安東 金氏|
|남양 홍씨||南陽 洪氏|
|동래 정씨||東萊 鄭氏|
|해주 오씨||海州 吳氏|
|전주 최씨||全州 崔氏|
|남평 문씨||南平 文氏|
|달성 서씨||達城 徐氏|
|창녕 조씨||昌寧 曺氏|
|수원 백씨||水原 白氏|
|경주 정씨||慶州 鄭氏|
|한양 조씨||漢陽 趙氏|
- Descended from Suro of Gaya. After the fall of Gaya in 562, many Gaya aristocrats were incorporated into Silla.
- Descended from Hyeokgeose of Silla (BC 57~936). All the Park clans in Korea trace their ancestry back to Hyeokgeose of Silla.
- Descended from Yi Han of Silla.
- Descended from Gim Alji of Silla
- "2000 인구주택총조사 성씨 및 본관 집계결과". 통계청 (in Korean). Statistics Korea. Retrieved 20 October 2017.[permanent dead link]
- Law Agency. "The law of Family name and Bon-gwan(adoptive child)". easylaw.go.kr (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-04-14.
List of Korean clans (in Korean)