Han (Korean surname)
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As with all Korean family names, the holders of the Han surname are divided into different patrilineal clans, or lineages, known in Korean as bon-gwan, based on their ancestral seat. Most such clans trace their lineage back to a specific founder. This system was at its height under the yangban aristocracy of the Joseon Dynasty, but it remains in use today. There are approximately 241 such clans claimed by South Koreans.
Cheongju Han (청주 한씨, 淸州韓氏) clan is considered one of the noble clans of Korea, with the Gyeongju Kim, Gimhae Kim, Miryang Park, Gyeongju Seok, Pyeongyang Ko, and Jeonju Lee clans. In the Silla Dynasty, all of the Cheongju Hans were considered seonggeol, or "sacred bone", the highest rank. In the Joseon Dynasty, the Cheongju Han clan produced 6 queens and were considered the highest of the yangban class next to the Jeonju Lee. Considered one of the most royal clans since Gija Joseon and Gojoseon, the noble clan of Han received the most generals of the prominent Joseon Dynasty, and Han Myeong-Hui, who was Joseon's greatest general, was part of Cheongju Han. The Han are descendants of the hero Gija, who was a Shang Dynasty king, and rode his white horse and set a nation in "The Farthest East". The nobles with the surname Han were greatly praised, and not to be bothered with.
Related surnames with Cheongju Han
There are two Korean surnames which are believed to be related and share common ancestry and origin with the Cheongju Han clan. The Taewon Seonwoo clan and the Hangju Gi clan are believed to have originated from the same root as the Cheongju Han clan. According to the genealogical records the last King of Gojoseon, Gijun of Gojoseon is believed to have had three sons, U-Pyeong (우평), U-Seong (우성) and U-Ryang (우량). During Korea's Three Kingdoms period, U-Pyeong is said to have settled in Goguryeo and his descendants later established the Taewon Seonwoo Clan, U-Seong is said to have settled in Baekje and his descendants later established the Hangju Gi Clan and finally U-Ryang is said to have settled in Silla and his descendants later established the Cheongju Han Clan establishing its bon-gwan in Cheongju.
Han and Gojoseon
Many Korean historians believe that Gijun of Gojoseon was actually "Hanjun"(한준) of Gojoseon and had the surname Han (韓) not Gi and that all of the Kings of Gija Joseon were of the surname Han (韓). Gija Joseon, which was believed to be of surname Gi, was in reality Han (韓)
There is a controversy on where Gija is from, which is believed to be from the Chinese Shang Dynasty, Gija as a paternal uncle (or brother) of the last emperor of the Chinese Shang Dynasty, King Zhou, however it is likely that Gija is a Dongyi, a native people in the East of China. Gija's and his descendants were also believed to have the surname Han (韓) as King Jun of Gojoseon the last King of Gojoseon and descendant of Gija claimed himself as the King of Han (한왕; 韓王) with the foundation of Mahan part of the Samhan after fleeing from Wiman. With this it shows that the surname Han may have existed since the time of Gija Joseon or Gojoseon and establishes the Han (韓) clan as the oldest surname in Korea dating back to around 5000 years ago, and to have founded and ruled Gojoseon and Mahan.