Dec 15, 2011  •  In Aerin, Baby, Claire, Personal, Relationships

A Small But (Hopefully) Meaningful Gift

I just realized that I never shared Aerin’s Chinese and Korean names with you guys.

Aerin’s Chinese name — 君靖 (Gwan Zing) — was chosen by J from a list of “pre-approved” names given to him by his parents. Claire’s Chinese name, 君婷 (Gwan Ting), was chosen this way too. In fact, J used the same list for both names, and when his brother has children, he too will be naming them from the list and the first character of the names will be the same as well.

My father had chosen Claire’s Korean name — 다정 (Da Jung) — and I personally love it. Not only is it cute and easy to pronounce, the word 다정 is used in the Korean language to describe a relationship as being sweetly intimate. :-)

Contrary to Chinese tradition, where siblings (and sometimes even cousins) share the same first character in names, Koreans tend to share the second character. As such, when I approached the end of my pregnancy with Aerin, my father presented me with a short list of names that end with “Jung”:

  • 수정 (Soo Jung)
  • 민정 (Min Jung)
  • 은정 (Eun Jung)

My parents liked Soo Jung the best, but I believed it to be a bit too plain. My sister liked Eun Jung because our mother’s name uses the character “Eun.” But I was hesitant because Eun Jung had an awkward flow when paired with the Korean pronunciation of J’s last name.

We decided to sit on it and think about it some more, when I suddenly had an idea —

Why not use the Korean character that my sister and I share in our names: 효 (Hyo)?


(image source)

I had already been feeling bad for Aerin because almost everything she was getting were hand-me-downs from her older sister. (And I know that it will probably remain this way for a large portion of her childhood.) There is also the fact that practically everyone was telling me that when both kids are crying for my attention, I should tend to Claire first because she is more likely to remember it later on. Hearing this, how can you not feel sorry for little Aerin?

I have written in the past that I used to hate my Korean name 효진 (Hyojin), but have grown to love it over the years. It’s even starting to become popular in Korea, with two celebrities — Kim Hyo Jin and Gong Hyo Jin — with the name.

So why not pass down to Aerin a part of myself that was given to me by my late grandfather? Something that I love and am proud of? Something that ties in with my identity and being?

It may not seem like much to some people, but I thought it was a great idea. And a wonderful gift to be presenting to my second daughter.

So it was decided. Aerin’s Korean name was 효정 (Hyo Jung).

And you know what? I think I may like it even better than my own name!

9 Responses to “A Small But (Hopefully) Meaningful Gift”

  1. Rachel G:

    I was wondering this recently and I’m so glad you posted it! What do her Chinese and Korean names mean? I had a few friends in college and grad school who were Chinese and Korean and I love learning the meanings of their names because they are always so beautiful!!! One of my friends told me that her name was kind of a wish for her life (to shine and be wise–her name was Hyun Hee) and I wondered if that was also the thinking your family used in choosing names. Best of luck to you and your family. I love reading your blog because you are so honest and it really helped me to go back and read your posts from Claire’s early days because my (now 3 month old) baby boy and I had a bit of a rough start with breastfeeding and some other things.

    • 君 (Gwan) means sovereign, and 靖 (Zing) means calm or peaceful. The characters for her Korean name are 효 (Hyo) which is filial piety, and 정 (Jung), which means beautiful. We didn’t really choose her name (or Claire’s, for that matter) for specific purposes but more for the meanings of the different characters.

      That being said, I know for a fact that my Korean name was at least partly chosen as wishful thinking by my parents’, because the characters mean “filial piety” and “to fulfill!”

      P.S. — I’m so happy my earlier posts have been helpful to you!

  2. It’s always fascinating to me to hear about the way naming works in different cultures! I think the name you chose is beautiful! :)

  3. I love it! My daughter’s name (also her legal middle name) is Mae Hwa, the Hwa being from my name (Song Hwa). Her brother’s name (Young Woo) doesn’t share a syllable with her’s, but instead share with my husband’s adopted name (Hyun Woo). We wanted to name our daughter Young Hwa, until we realized it meant “movie theater”. Oops.

  4. Donna:

    What a lovely post and gift to Aerin. She and Claire are lucky to have both names. I was disappointed that my husband wanted to be traditional and not have our son and daughter share a character. Our way of honoring both sides is that our son got a name picked from the paternal list for Chinese names and then his catholic baptism name is my fathers name and for our daughter my parents picked out her Chinese name and her catholic name is my MIL.

    On a side note the two kids 13 months apart post I can somewhat relate to. As the oldest of five children the last two were twelve months apart and since I am 12 years older and my dad traveled a lot for work I have memories of my mom waking me up in the middle
    Of the night beggin me to handle my little brother so she could get a few
    Precious minutes of sleep. She also gave up on breast feeding bc she said that it was too hard to be at beck and call and being on formula just made things easier
    On her to be able to share feedings with others. I admire you as I admire my mother so hang in there!

    Btw my little girl has been in her pognae all
    Over Chicago and in home while I try to clean house!

  5. I think that’s a wonderful naming story. A well-considered name with a wonderful meaning is such a gift.

    When I asked my mom why she chose my name she said, “I chose your first name because I liked it. I chose your middle name because I wanted you to have my maiden name. I had to choose your other middle name because the priest wouldn’t baptize you without a Christian middle name.”

    How touching.

  6. Yes I like Hyo Jung better! The other “Jung” names sounded too commonplace. I love my own Korean name, it’s in my FB name as you probably know. :)

  7. I loved hearing about both of their Chinese and Korean names! Thanks for sharing!

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