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Updated January 23, 2020

Family name origins & meanings

  • Chinese : variant of Gu 1.
  • Chinese : variant of Gu 2.
  • Chinese : variant of Gu 3.
  • Korean : there are three Chinese characters for the surname Ku. The most common of the three claims thirty-two clans, but only two can be documented. The other two Ku surnames each have one clan, with its own Chinese character. All four of the Ku clans immigrated from China. The clans that use the more common character came in two waves: the first settled in the Nŭngsŏng sometime before 945, and the second, which settled in Ch’angwŏn, arrived in 1224. The name of the immigrant who founded the first of these two clans has been lost; but the name of the second is Ku Chon-yu. Members of these two clans can be found throughout the Korean peninsula, but 45 percent of them live in Kyŏngsang South province, while 20 percent of them live in Seoul and Kyŏnggi province. The founder of the clan that uses the other Ku character was named Ku T’ae-rim. He was an emissary for Tang China on his way to Japan when a storm blew his ship onto the shores of Koguryŏ Korea in 663. He settled in Koguryŏ territory and subsequently held a post in that government. Koguryŏ was a Korean kingdom which existed in the northern part of the Korean peninsula from 37 bc to ad 668. Its territory was incorporated into Shilla when the peninsula was unified in 668. Most of the modern-day members of this clan live in Ch’ungch’ŏng province. Very little is known of the origins of the clan which uses the third Ku character. There are only a few families which still use this character in Korea; they live in Kyŏngsang province and Kangwŏn province.

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