The 2000 South Korean Census found 119,251 people with the family name Chae. It could be written with either of three hanja, indicating different lineages. In a study by the National Institute of the Korean Language based on year 2007 application data for South Korean passports, it was found that 87.8% of people with this surname spelled it in Latin letters as Chae in their passports. Another 7.5% spelled it as Chai, 2.8% as Che, and 1.7% as Chea.
Most common (蔡)
蔡 (성씨 채 songssi chae) is by far the most common of the three Chae surnames. This character is also used to write the Chinese family name pronounced Cài ([t͡ɕai̯˥˩]) in Mandarin. The 2000 Census found 114,069 people and 35,099 households with this surname, divided among seventeen reported bon-gwan (clan hometowns, not necessarily the actual residence of clan members), as well as eighty-six people whose bon-gwan was not stated:
- Pyonggang, Kangwon (today in North Korea): 69,256 people and 21,373 households They claim descent from Chae Song-nyeon (채송년; 蔡松年), an official under Gojong of Goryeo.
- Incheon, Gyeonggi (today in South Korea): 37,391 people and 11,415 households They claim descent from Chae Seon-mu (채선무; 蔡先茂), who lived sometime during mid-Goryeo Dynasty.
- Other or unreported bon-gwan: 7,422 people and 2,311 households
Second-most common (菜)
- Yeongyang, North Gyeongsang (today in South Korea): 1,816 people and 576 households
- Jinju, South Gyeongsang: 1,627 people and 483 households
- Other or unreported bon-gwan: 73 people and eight households
Least common (采)
- Yeosan: 1,637 people and 562 households
- Other or unreported bon-gwan: 29 people and two households
People with these family names include:
- Chae Man-sik (蔡萬植, 1902–1950), Korean novelist
- Chae Myung-shin (蔡命新, 1926–2013), South Korean army general
- Chae Su-chan (蔡秀澯, born 1955), South Korean politician and economist
- Chae Ho-ki (蔡好基, born 1957), South Korean poet
- Nelson Chai (Chai Joo-suk, born 1965), American investment banker of Korean descent
- Chae Shi-ra (蔡時那, born 1968), South Korean actress
- Chae Sung-bae (蔡成培, born 1968), South Korean heavyweight boxer
- Chae Keun-bae (蔡根培, born 1970), South Korean sport shooter
- Chae Ji-hoon (蔡智薰, born 1974) South Korean speed skater
- Chae Jung-an (蔡貞安, born Jang Jung-an, 1977), South Korean actress and singer
- Chae Ri-na (born Baek Hyeon-ju, 1977), South Korean singer
- Chae Sang-byung (蔡尙秉, born 1979), South Korean baseball player
- Chae Min-seo (born Jo Soo-jin, 1981), South Korean actress
- Chae Eun-hee (born 1982), South Korean marathon runner
- Chae Seon-ah (born 1992), South Korean volleyball player
- Piglet (video gamer) (born Chae Gwang-jin, 1994), South Korean League of Legends player
- Chae Hyungwon (蔡亨源, born 1994), South Korean singer, DJ and member of Monsta X
- Chae Soo-bin (蔡秀彬, born Bae Soo-bin, 1994), South Korean actress
- Chea Song-joo (born 1998), South Korean figure skater
- Chae Sang-woo (蔡相宇, born 1999), South Korean actor
- Esther K. Chae (Chae Kyung-ju), American actress of Korean descent
- Chae Eui-jin, South Korean voice actor
In given names
There are 17 hanja with the reading Chae on the South Korean government's official list of hanja which may be registered for use in given names; they are:
- 菜 (나물 채 namul chae): vegetable
- 採 (캘 채 kael chae): to lift
- 彩 (채색 채 chaesaek chae): colour
- 債 (빚 채 bit chae): debt
- 采 (풍채 채 pungchae chae, 캘 채 kael chae): appearance
- 埰 (사패지 채 sapaeji chae): fief
- 寀 (녹봉 채 nokbong chae): stipend
- 蔡 (성씨 채 seongssi chae): used as a family name (originally a species of tortoise)
- 綵 (비단 채 bidan chae): silk
- 寨 (목책 채 mokchaek chae): wooden fence
- 琗 (옥빛 채 okbit chae): brightness of jade
- 砦 (진터 채 jinteo chae): fort
- 釵 (비녀 채 binyeo chae): binyeo (traditional Korean hairpin)
- 責 (빚 채 bit chae): debt
- 棌 (참나무 채 chamnamu chae): oak tree
- 婇 (여자의 자 채 yeojaui ja chae): used in women's names
- 睬 (주목할 채 jumokhal chae): to watch
Korean given names containing the element Chae include:
- "행정구역(구시군)/성씨·본관별 가구 및 인구" [Family names by administrative region (district, city, county): separated by bon-gwan, households and individuals]. Korean Statistical Information Service. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
- "한국성씨일람" [List of Korean family names]. Kyungpook National University. 2003-12-11. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
- 씨 로마자 표기 방안: 마련을 위한 토론회 [Plan for romanisation of surnames: a preparatory discussion]. National Institute of the Korean Language. 25 June 2009. p. 67. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
- 평강(平康) 채(蔡) [Pyeonggang Chae]. Daejeon: Jokbo Museum. Retrieved 5 June 2016. The Jokbo Museum cites the following work for their pages on family names: 김진우 (2009). 한국인 의 역사 [The History of Koreans]. 春秋筆法 [Chunchu Pilbeop]. OCLC 502157619.
- 인천(仁川) 채(蔡) [Incheon Chae]. Daejeon: Jokbo Museum. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
- "인명용 한자표" [Table of hanja for use in personal names] (PDF). South Korea: Supreme Court. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
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