Park (Korean surname)

Country Korea
Parent house Itself
Titles King of Silla
Founded 57 BC
Founder King Hyeokgeose
Final ruler King Gyeongae
Dissolution Fall of Silla in 935
Revised Romanization Bak
McCune–Reischauer Pak
Percentage of family names in South Korea

Park () is the third most frequent Korean surname,[1] traditionally traced back to King Hyeokgeose Park (박혁거세) and theoretically inclusive of all of his descendants. In Chinese characters (Hanja), it is written as . The name "Park" is usually assumed to come from the Korean noun bak (박), which means "bottle gourd".[2] In Standard Chinese it is read as piáo . In Korean, it is read as 'pak'.

Founding legend

All the Park clans in Korea trace their ancestry back to the first king of Silla, Hyeokgeose. For this reason marriage between Parks had traditionally been prohibited.[3]

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. The 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][4]


Both former President of South Korea (1962–1979), Park Chung-Hee and his daughter, the current president, Park Geun-hye (pictured) are from the Goryeong clan of the Parks.[5]

Out of the kings of Silla, ten had the Park clan name. During the rule of King Pasa (80–112), the Park clan became divided and during the reign of King Gyeongmyeong (917–924) it became fractured even more, creating several lineages. This is when the nine Park clans named after the nine sons of Gyeongmyeong came into existence.[3]

70-80% of the current bearers of the surname belong to the Miryang Park clan. In 2000, there were 159 Park clans in South Korea, with an approximate number of 3,8 million people altogether.[6]

The clans which produced the most number of notable people in Korean history are collectively called the "8 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).[3][6]

Clan name (Region) Clan progenitor Percentage (%) (2000)
Miryang[7] Grand Prince Eon-chim of Milseong 77.8 (further divided into 12 families calls "Pa")
Bannam (Naju) Lord Hojang 3.6
Juksan (Andong) Grand Prince Eunnip of Juksan 1.4
Goryeong Park Eun-seong, Grand Prince of Goyang 1.0
Yeonghae (Yeongdeok) Park Je-sang 0.7
Chungju Park Sang 0.6
Myeoncheon (Dangjin) Park Sul-hui 0.1
Pyeongsan King Hyeokgeose, founder of Silla 0.01

Position in society

King Hyeokgeose was said to have founded the Korean kingdom of Silla at the age of thirteen in 57 BC. Park was one of three houses of the Korean kingdom of Silla. Among the houses of Park, Kim, and Seok, princes rotated on the throne of Silla. Sometime in the third century, the Kingship remained in the Kim clan, but the Parks continued to provide the mainstay of its aristocracy as well as the majority of Queens. According to Kojiki, one of Park Princes, referred to as Amenohiboko migrated to Japan, founding the Tajima Clan in the third century. During the last century of the dynasty, the Park family regained the position of the ruling house, when the Kim clan lost their mandate of heaven. King Sindeok regained the throne for the Park family in 913, continuing it for three kings until 927. Gyeongmyeong of Silla and King Gyeongae were the next two Silla monarchs from the Park clan. Gyeon Hwon, the Hubaekje leader killed him after taking Geumseong (Gyeongju) in 927 and there were no more kings from the Parks after him.

During the Unified Silla the Miryang Park Clan, along with Kimhae Kim clan became the most prominent of the Aristocracy, based on the Bone Rank System. Within the bone rank system, the two clans of Kimhae Kims and Miryang Parks were considered the most Jingol, or "True Bone". As Seong gol, or Divine bones died out through intermarriage, these two clans became the dominant noble houses on the peninsula following the conquest of rival dynasties. The bone rank system persists to this day via the common Korean saying, "bbyeodae itneun jiban" (family with bones) to refer to families of deep noble heritage.

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 Sartaq.

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, many 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 ko:귀족원 (일본) admitted into Japanese House of Peers ko:일본 제국의회 were of the Park Clan. With the social turbulence caused by the Korean War of 1950, many former peasants carry on as original members of the Park clan today. True family members maintain their ancient genealogy passed down through the families, as well as by the convention of naming their children according to strict Confucian system.

Notable people


Kings of Silla in order of their reign:







Historical people

Literary figures



Voice actors


See also

Royal house
House of Park
Founding year: 57 BC
Preceded by
Founding dynasty
Ruling House of Silla
57 BC – 57 AD
House of Seok
Preceded by
House of Seok
Ruling House of Silla
80 – 184
House of Seok


  1. "Korean Family Names". KOSIS. 2000. Archived from the original on 2005-12-19. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
  2. 1 2 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. 1 2 3 "박" (in Korean). Doopedia. Retrieved 2016-03-03.
  4. "Pak Hyeokgeose: the founder of the Silla kingdom was respected and courageous". 2014-09-24. Retrieved 2016-03-03.
  5. "정복규의 한국 성씨를 찾아서 -박근혜 후보와 고령박씨". Shina Ilbo. 2012-12-11. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  6. 1 2 "박씨" (in Korean). RootsClick Corp. Retrieved 2016-03-03.
Preceded by
House of Kim
Ruling House of Silla
912 – 927
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