From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Japanese Name Change Bulletin of Taikyu Court.jpg
Announcement of the Sōshi-kaimei policy issued by the Taikyu court, written bilingually in Japanese and Korean, in a special parallel style in which hanja/kanji were printed only once and were "shared" by the hangul and kana texts
Korean name
Revised RomanizationChangssi-gaemyeong
Literal meaning: "Create a surname (shi) and change (your) given name).

Sōshi-kaimei (創氏改名) was a policy of pressuring Koreans under Japanese rule to adopt Japanese names. It consisted of two parts. Ordinance No. 19, issued in 1939, required sōshi, literally "creation of a family name" (, shi)(see Bon-gwan (, sei)).[1] Ordinance No. 20, issued in 1940, permitted kaimei, change of one's given name; this was voluntary and the applicant was charged a fee.

These ordinances, issued by General Jirō Minami, Governor-General of Korea, effectively reversed an earlier government order which forbade Koreans to take up Japanese names. There are various explanations for the purpose of the ordinances.

Order No. 124[edit]

In 1909, the Korean Empire established a civil registration law, starting the creation of a modern family registry system. With regard to the recording of details about women such as the father's surname, age, and connection to the registry holder, due to attention that needed to be given to avoiding conflict with Korean customs, the drafting of the law was not completed until April 1910, just before the annexation of Korea. By that time, a portion of Koreans had already registered Japanese-style names and the like, which generated confusion. As a result, on the basis of memoranda such as Order No. 124, "Document regarding name changes by Koreans"[2] issued by the Governor-General of Korea on November 11, 1911, the use by Koreans of "names which might be mistaken for those of native Japanese"[3] was no longer permitted, and strict controls were placed on the registration of Japanese-style names for newborn children. Additionally, Koreans who had registered Japanese-style names on there were required to revert to their original names.[4]

Ordinances No. 19 and 20[edit]

In 1939 and 1940, a new name-change policy came into effect by means of Ordinances No. 19 and 20. Originally, as in Taiwan, the new name-change policy was intended simply to allow change of surname (sei/seong) and given name, but because Korea had a long-established custom (recently abandoned) whereby people of the same bon-gwan (surname and clan) were not allowed to marry each other, in order that this custom could continue, it was decided that the policy would be implemented by leaving the clan name and sei the same in the family register, while permitting a new family name (shi/ssi) to be registered. On the other hand, in Taiwan, which was also under Japanese rule in the same period, but did not have an analogous custom, the policy was not described as "creation of a shi", but was simply "change of sei and given name" (改姓名).

With regard to the creation of a family name (shi), there were both "shi created by (individual) selection" (設定創氏) and "shi created by law" (法定創氏). In the half year between February 11 and August 10, 1940, those who provided notification could create a shi of their own choosing, while those who did not provide any notification would have their shi defined by the clan name (sei) of the head of the household. After the "creation of a family name", a Korean had three names which are a family name shi, a clan name sei, and a personal name mei (first name), all of which are recorded in a person's family register along with the origin place of the clan, bon-gwan. Since all members of a family share the same family name shi, wife's shi, and hence the first character in her legal name, would be the same as her husband's, which differed from the traditional Korean clan name sei, whereby a wife kept her original sei even after marriage (see table).[5] Besides that, selection of a shi with a Japanese-style reading could also be approved; to go along with such a shi, it was also permissible to change one's given name to a Japanese-style name; as the change of given name was voluntary, a fee would be charged for it. Additionally, at the same time, the mukoyōshi system, i.e. an adoption of a daughter's husband (婿養子制度), which up until then had been forbidden under Korean law, was also introduced. This case was also included in the sōshi-kaimei policy.

Declaration of individually selected shi and changes of given name initially (in February 1940) were conducted on the basis of voluntary notification. However, at the April prefectural governors' meeting, because of instructions such as "Special consideration should be taken so that the shi registration of all households can be completed by the coming July 20"[6] the administration began to seriously promote the policy, and as a result, starting from April, the number of households registering individually selected shi began to rise sharply. As of April, only 3.9% of all households had provided notification for creation of a shi, but by August 10, that figure had risen to 80.3%. Also, statements opposing the policy of sōshi-kaimei were censored according to the internal security laws.

There are several viewpoints regarding this sudden increase. Most argue that official compulsion and harassment existed against individuals who would not create a new Japanese-style shi, but disagree whether this was the result of individual unauthorised practises by low-level officials , the policy of some regional government organisations, or an overall intention of the colonial government. Others argue that Koreans seeking to avoid discrimination by Japanese voluntarily created Japanese-style family names.

Regardless, of Koreans living in Korea, the proportion of those who changed their given name reached only 9.6%. Among Koreans living in the mainland of Japan, the proportion of those who created a new shi by individual selection reached 14.2%.

Restoration of original names[edit]

Name Restoration Order
조선 성명 복구령
Revised RomanizationJoseon Seongmyeong Bokguryeong
McCune–ReischauerChosŏn Sŏngmyŏng Pokkuryŏng

After the liberation of Korea from Japanese rule, the Name Restoration Order was issued on October 23, 1946, by the United States military administration south of the 38th parallel, enabling Koreans to restore their Korean names if they wished to. However, not all Koreans returned to using their original names, especially Koreans living outside of Korea. Many Zainichi Koreans chose to retain their Japanese names, either to avoid discrimination, or later, to meet the requirements for naturalization as Japanese citizens,[7] while some Sakhalin Koreans who had taken Japanese names were registered by Soviet authorities under those names (which appeared on their Japanese identity papers) after the Red Army occupied Karafuto, and up to the present day have been unable to revert their legal names to their original Korean ones.[8]

Name registration of prominent individuals[edit]

Those who took a Japanese-style name[edit]

Those who retained their Korean-style name[edit]

Timeline of family registration procedures in Korea[edit]

Year Individual Clan name; bon-gwan (本貫) and seong (姓) Family name; ssi (氏) First name; mei (名) Full name/record
Prior to 1909: Recording in family register (族譜) (The family register was typically managed by the head of the clan; however, some citizens did not have a seong) Husband Gimhae Kim (金海金) None Mu-hyeon (武鉉) Kim Mu-hyeon (金武鉉)
Wife Gyeongju Yi (慶州李) None None No record, as the woman's name was not recorded in the register (族譜)
1910 to 1940: Minseki law system (民籍法制定) Husband Gimhae Kim (金海金) None Mu-hyeon (武鉉) seong and given name Kim Mu-hyeon (金武鉉)
Wife Gyeongju Yi (慶州李) None Mu-a (撫兒) seong and given name Yi Mu-a (李撫兒)
1940 to 1945: sōshi-kaimei (the legal name, which used to be seong and given name, because ssi and given name) In the case of a ssi created by law
Husband Gimhae Kim (金海金) Gim Mu-hyeon (武鉉) ssi and given name Kim Mu-hyeon (金武鉉)
Wife Gyeongju Yi (慶州李) Gim Mu-a (撫兒) ssi and given name Kim Mu-a (金撫兒)
In the case of a ssi created by the individual
Husband Gimhae Kim (金海金) Yamato (大和) Takehiro (武鉉) ssi and given name Yamato Takehiro (大和武鉉)
Wife Gyeongju Yi (慶州李) Yamato (大和) Nadeshiko (撫子) ssi and given name Yamato Nadeshiko (大和撫子)
After 1946 Name Restoration Order Husband Gimhae Kim (金海金) None Mu-hyeon (武鉉) seong and given name Kim Mu-hyeon (金武鉉)
Wife Gyeongju Yi (慶州李) None Mu-a (撫兒) seong and given name Yi Mu-a (李武鉉)
  • The application period for creation of a ssi was limited to six months in length, while there was no time limit placed on the change of given name
  • Children inherited their father's bon-gwan and seong
  • Children of an unmarried woman inherited the woman's bon-gwan and seong
  • Even if one married, the recorded native region and clan name could not be changed
  • According to customary Korean law (now no longer followed), one can not marry with a person of the same clan name and the same clan origin related within 6 or 8 degrees

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In Korean, the family name is called either seong (성, 姓), ssi (씨, 氏) or seongssi (성씨, 姓氏).
  2. ^ 総督府令第124号「朝鮮人ノ姓名改称ニ関スル件」
  3. ^ Original quote: 「内地人ニ紛ハシキ姓名」
  4. ^ Mizuno, Naoki. "植民地支配と「人の支配」 (Colonial control and "human control")" (PDF). Kyoto University. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 22, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-26. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ Cho, Eui-seong. "朝鮮人の姓名 (Names of Koreans)". Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Retrieved 2006-11-26. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ Original quote: 「きたる7月20日迄に全戸数の氏届出を完了する様特段の配慮相成りたし」
  7. ^ Fukuoka, Yasunori (1996). "Beyond Assimilation and Dissimilation: Diverse Resolutions to Identity Crises among Younger Generation Koreans in Japan". Saitama University. Retrieved 2006-11-27. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ Baek, Il-hyun (2005-09-14). "Scattered Koreans turn homeward". Joongang Daily. Archived from the original on November 27, 2005. Retrieved 2006-11-27.
  9. ^ "General Kim Suk Won". Korea Web Weekly. 2002. Archived from the original on 2007-06-08. Retrieved 2006-11-26. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ * Nagasawa, Masaharu (2001-11-23). 半島に渡った日本語・日本語文学 (in Japanese). Saga Women's Junior College. Archived from the original on 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2006-11-25. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ "이명박 선친의 성은 '쓰키야마(月山)'였다 (in Korean)". Hankook Ilbo. Archived from the original on 2012-03-19. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
  12. ^ Chun, Young-gi (2004-03-05). "War criminal, general, but still Korean". Joongang Daily. Archived from the original on March 24, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-24.


  • Mizuno, Naoki (February 2004). "『創氏改名』の実施過程について (About the implementation process of Sōshi-kaimei)". 朝鮮史研究会会報 (Proceedings of the Association for the Study of Korean History) (in Japanese). Tokyo, Japan: National Informatics Institute. 154. Retrieved 2006-11-25.
  • Nagasawa, Masaharu (2001-11-23). 半島に渡った日本語・日本語文学 (in Japanese). Saga Women's Junior College. Archived from the original on 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2006-11-25. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • "Korea under Japanese rule". Library of Congress country studies. Washington, D.C.: United States Library of Congress. 1982. Retrieved 2006-11-25.
  • William, Wetherall (1981). "Public Figures in Popular Culture: Identity Problems of Minority Heroes". In Changsoo Lee; George De Vos (eds.). Koreans in Japan: Ethnic Conflict and Accommodation. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. Chapter 12, pp. 281–303 (text), 406–413 (notes). Footnote 16 gives bibliographic references for Korean perspectives on the Soshi-Kaimei policy.