Park (Korean surname)

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Revised RomanizationBak
Percentage of family names in South Korea

Park (Korean, Korean pronunciation: [pak̚]) or Bak is the third-most common surname in Korea,[1] traditionally traced back to 1st century King Hyeokgeose Park and theoretically inclusive of all of his descendants. Park or Bak is usually assumed to come from the Korean noun Bak (), meaning "gourd".[2] As of the South Korean census of 2015, there were 4,192,074 people with the name in South Korea, or roughly 8.4% of the population.[1]

Founding legend[edit]

All the Park clans in Korea trace their ancestry back to the first king of Silla, Hyeokgeose. According to a legend, the leaders of the six clans of the Jinhan confederacy were gathering on a hilltop to choose a king, when they looked down and saw lightning strike at the foot of the Yangsan mountain and a white horse bow at the same place. When they went there to check, they found a red egg, which hatched a baby boy. They bathed the boy in the nearby stream and he was emitting bright light and the sun and the moon rose at the same time, indicating the divine birth of the child. Thus the child was named Hyeokgeose, meaning "ruling with a bright light" and his clan name became Bak or "gourd" after the round shape of the egg he hatched from. At age 13 he was given the title geoseogan (거서간), the equivalent of "king" at the time. The birth legends of early Korean kings were necessary to validate the "divine" nature of their rule.[2][3]

According to Yang Ju-dong's (梁柱東) research, both 'no: ' and '' in '朴赫居世’ are repeatedly written with the meaning of 'ᄇᆞᆰ' (밝다; lit. bright)[4]

According to the Samguk Sagi, the Jin people called gourd as "park", and the first large egg looked similar to the shape of the gourd, so his last name become Park.[citation needed]


Park Chung Hee, 3rd President of South Korea. He is from the Goryeong Park clan.
Chan Ho Park is a former baseball player. He is from the Chungju Park clan.
Park Jae Sang, better known as PSY, is a singer. He is from the Miryang Park clan.[5]

As with other Korean surnames, different lineages, known as bon-gwan or clans, are inherited from a father by his children. These designate the region of Korea or paternal ancestor, from which they claim to originate. Out of the kings of Silla, ten had the Park surname. During the rule of King Pasa (80–112), the Park clans became divided and during the reign of King Gyeongmyeong (917–924) they became even more fractured, creating several lineages. This is when the nine Park clans named after the nine sons of Gyeongmyeong came into existence.[6]

70–80% of the current bearers of the surname belong to the Miryang Bak clan. In 2015, there were 314 Bak clans in South Korea, with about 4.19 million people altogether.[7]

Family seal of the Miryang Park clan

The clans which produced the most number of notable people in Korean history are collectively called the "Eight Parks", these are: the Miryang Park clan (밀양박씨), the Bannam Park clan (반남박씨), the Goryeong Park clan (고령박씨), the Hamyang Park clan (함양박씨), the Juksan Park clan (죽산박씨), the Suncheon Park clan (순천박씨), the Muan Park clan (무안박씨) and the Chungju Park clan (충주박씨).[6][7]

Clan name (Region) Clan progenitor Percentage (%)
Miryang[1] Grand Prince Eon-chim of Milseong, ultimately from Hyeokgeose of Silla 74.04
Hamyang Grand Prince Bak Eon-shin, ultimately from Hyeokgeose of Silla 3.9
Others Ultimately from Hyeokgeose of Silla 3.8
Bannam (Naju) Lord Hojang, ultimately from Hyeokgeose of Silla 3.8
Suncheon Bak Yeong Kyu, Gyeon Hwon's son-in-law, ultimately from Hyeokgeose of Silla 3.8
Juksan (Andong) Grand Prince Eunnip of Juksan, ultimately from Hyeokgeose of Silla 1.5
Goryeong Park Eun-seong, Grand Prince of Goyang, ultimately from Hyeokgeose of Silla 1.0
Yeonghae (Yeongdeok) Park Je-sang, ultimately from Hyeokgeose of Silla 0.7
Chungju Park Sang, ultimately from Hyeokgeose of Silla 0.8

Position in society[edit]

House of Park
Parent houseItself
Founded57 BC
FounderKing Hyeokgeose
Final rulerKing Gyeongae
TitlesKing of Silla
DissolutionFall of Silla in 935

King Hyeokgeose was said to have founded the Korean kingdom of Silla at the age of thirteen in 57 BC. Bak was one of three houses of the Korean kingdom of Silla. Among the houses of Bak, Kim, and Seok, princes rotated on the throne of Silla. According to historical records, all three houses have been recorded as having worshipped the founding father, Bak Hyeokgeose as their ancestral shrine. For example, the 4th king Talhae of Silla, the 9th king Beolhyu of Silla, the 10th king Naehae of Silla, the 11th king Jobun of Silla, the 12th king Cheomhae of Silla, the 14th King Yurye of Silla and the 15th king Girim of Silla were house of Seok, but according to the Samguk sagi Silla bongi, all of them worshipped Bak Hyeokgeose as their progenitor. In addition, the 13th king Michu of Silla, the 16th king Heulhae of Silla, the 17th king Naemul of Silla, the 18th king Silseong of Silla, the 19th king Nulji of Silla, the 20th king Jabi of Silla, the 21st king Soji of Silla, the 22nd king Jijeung of Silla, the 40th king Aejang of Silla, the 41st king Heondeok of Silla and the 42nd king Heungdeok of Silla are descendants of Gim Al-ji, but according to the Samguk sagi Silla bongi, all of them worshipped Bak Hyeokgeose as their progenitor. In addition, according to Samguk sagi, the Shrine Shingung(神宮) was founded in the birthplace of the progenitor Bak Hyeokgeose(朴赫居世) and every king has been recorded as paying their respects at this shrine. All of these historical records imply that the three lineages of Bak, Seok, and Kim worshipped Bak Hyeokgeose as their founding ancestor.[8]

When Seonggols have died out followed by two consecutive queens, Kim Chun-Chu from Jingol began to monopolize the throne, which lasts 258 years. However, even during this period, the Kims did not fully occupy the throne. In the later period of Silla, the Bak clan from Jingol succeed in restoring the throne. During the last century of the dynasty, the Bak clan from Jingol regained the ruling house position in 728 years. However, the Bak dynasty was cut off when Gyeongae of Silla was forced to commit suicide by Gyeon Hwon of the Hubaekje Kingdom. The reign of the Bak clan lasted only 15 years. After that, Kim Bu became the last king of Silla, but soon surrendered to the Wang Geon of Goryeo and Silla finally collapsed in 992 years.

During the Unified Silla the Miryang Bak Clan, along with Gimhae Kim clan became the most prominent of the aristocracy, based on the bone rank system. Within the bone rank system, the two clans of Gimhae Kims and Miryang Baks were considered the most Jingol, or "True Bone". As Seonggol, or Divine bones died out through intermarriage, these two clans became the dominant noble houses on the peninsula following the conquest of rival dynasties.

After the fall of Silla, it continued as a major noble house of Goryeo. During the Goryeo dynasty, many of the people who passed the highest-level state examination, which was implemented to recruit ranking officials during the Goryeo dynasty, were Parks. The first General to defeat the Mongols in world history was General Park Seo, who commanded the successful defense of the fortress of Guju in 1231 against the forces led by Mongol General Salitai [zh].

During Joseon dynasty, Parks continued to thrive as one of the main Yangban households. With the Gabo Reform of 1894, when the caste system was abolished, some peasants adopted the surname of Park, bloating the population of the Park family. Simultaneously with the abolition of the Gwageo national service examination, the Yangban system came to an end. During the Japanese Occupation Period, three of the ten Korean aristocrats admitted into Japanese House of Peers were of the Park Clan.

According to Kojiki, Nihon Shoki and 播磨国風土記[romanization needed], one of Bak Princes, recorded in various names as Amenohiboko (天日槍), Amenohihoko (天之日矛), Hiboko (日桙), Amenohibokonomikoto (天日槍命), Amenohibokonomikoto (天日桙命) and Amanohiboko (海檜槍) migrated to Japan in 27 BC[9] and 糸井氏[romanization needed] clan, Miyake clan, 橘守氏[romanization needed] clan, 但馬氏[romanization needed] clan, 絲井氏[romanization needed] clan and Tajimamori are recorded as descendants of Amenohiboko.[10]

Notable people of the past[edit]

The following is a list of notable people of the past with the Korean family name Park/Bak.


Historical people[edit]

Notable people of recent times[edit]






Literary figures[edit]




  • Piao Wenyao (also known as Park Moon-yo, born 1988), Chinese Korean professional Go player
  • Park Hye-min (born 1990), South Korean beauty vlogger and make-up artist
  • Park Junghwan (born 1993), South Korean professional Go player
  • Park Kun-bae (born 1948), former president of the Boy Scouts of Korea
  • Sae Eun Park (born 1989), South Korean ballet dancer
  • Soo Sunny Park, Korean-American artist
  • Suji Park (born 1985), Korean-New Zealand ceramic sculptor and artist
  • Park Tae-joon (1927–2011), South Korean business tycoon, war hero, political leader, and philanthropist
  • Yeonmi Park (born 1993), North Korean defector and activist
  • Youngsook Park (born 1955), South Korean futurist

Fictional characters[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "2015년 인구주택총조사 전수집계결과 보도자료" [Results of the 2015 Census of Population and Housing survey]. Korean Statistical Information Service. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  2. ^ a b The National Folk Museum of Korea (2014). Encyclopedia of Korean Folk Literature: Encyclopedia of Korean Folklore and Traditional Culture. Vol. III. 길잡이미디어. pp. 29–30. ISBN 9788928900848.
  3. ^ "Pak Hyeokgeose: the founder of the Silla kingdom was respected and courageous". September 24, 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  4. ^ 安, 英姬 (1969). "「閼英」의 發祥地「閼川」名義考". 아시아여성연구. 8: 139–155 – via DBpia. … “이에 관하여 梁柱東 博士는 「朴赫居世」의 「赫」을 「朴」의 註記로 보고 「朴」과 「赫」은 둘다 「ᄇᆞᆰ」의 表記로 疊記된 것으로 보았다.(2) [...] (1) 梁柱東 「國史古語彙 借字原義考〈國號•地名•始祖•官名•祭政•歌樂名등〉」(明大論文集 1), 1968, pp. 79~89參考[...] (2) 梁柱東, 註1書 p. 82參考”
  5. ^ 미디어오늘 (May 4, 2013). "꼬마 싸이 국적 논란, 싸이는 정말 한국인인가". 미디어오늘 (in Korean). Retrieved August 17, 2023.
  6. ^ a b "박" (in Korean). Doopedia. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  7. ^ a b "박씨". Korea Economic Daily (in Korean). September 7, 2016. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  8. ^ Kim, Jongseong (September 8, 2016). 신라 왕실의 비밀 [The secret of the Silla royal family] (in Korean). Korea: 역사의아침. ISBN 9791187493006.
  9. ^ "日本書紀巻第六". 720. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  10. ^ "新撰姓氏録". 815. Retrieved June 12, 2019.