Ancient Egyptian placed royal names in Cartouches: an enclosing oval with a line at the end:

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English of course usually uses a capital letter to denote a person's name.

Are there any special ways in Korean writing or typography to show that a word is a person's name?

  • 2
    I wonder if the Mr/Mrs type suffix (씨) is worth mentioning...it is mostly for formal where context of position may be unknown. Topo Morto씨, 안녕하세요? Jan 7, 2018 at 18:40

3 Answers 3

  • As others have pointed out, they are usually three or rarely two or four blocks long, and in terms of addressing someone, they are suffixed by the honorific -.
  • Korean uses word spacing, which makes it very easy to pick out someone's name.
  • Also, for some formal situations, they may be written in Hanja instead.

In Terms of English, note that English actually followed the German Practice of capitilising each Noun for quite a While before They reduced the Capitilised Words Set to Proper Nouns only.

Specifically for East Asian Royalty, there is an extremely complex method of making specific names that are used in certain situations:

  • Era names (연호/年號); these are not very distinctive, especially in a long text composed solely of Hanja.
  • Temple names (묘호/廟號); quite distinctive, usually ends with (dynasty founder) or (all others). King Sejong is an example of the latter.
  • Posthumous names (시호/諡號); extremely disctinctive, composed of a long string of Hanja adjectives. The longest ever recorded is for the Empress Dowager Cixi (孝欽慈禧端佑康頤昭豫莊誠壽恭欽獻崇熙配天興聖顯皇后).

There was also a concept of taboo characters, where during the reign of a sovereign, the Hanja of their personal name was not allowed to be written, so the last stroke might be cut off deliberately for that character to remain in use, but I'm not sure how seriously Korea took this taboo. If this does happen, then the character looks extremely weird and distinctive, e.g.

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for the Kangxi Emperor.


There is not.

Other answers note that they are usually 3 or 4 characters long (wow, how nice!) or that they are easy to point out given the context (???). Neither of these is "a special way to denote that a word in Korean is a person's name".

The point is that you must rely on context and recognizing names that you have seen before (or a family name you have seen before + a given name you have seen before), but no there is no special way to denote that something is a name.

I have seen names boldened or put after a marker, like 창조자: 최주현 but there is no specific marker that is universally used (one would be nice).


Native Korean here.

Korean names are extremely easy to point out in any given context or situation. They are almost always three letters long, and are two or four in very few cases. I don't think our ancestors found any reason for making a special way of writing names, same for China and Japan(as far as I know).

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