Okay, so when someone says or writes their full name in Korean, their family (last) name is the first part, followed by their given names. Names are almost always three syllables long, and many, many families seem to share the same surname because when people were permitted to have and use a last name, many of them selected a name that is associated with a former leader or emperor or whatever… to distance themselves from what they felt would be seen as a family name belonging to a commoner or slave. That’s why you have so many Kims, Parks, Gangs, Kwans, etc.
So, the last name is typically one syllable and the given names have two. There’s no direct translation for “Robert” in Korean, so I’m going a different route and am attempting to use my last name of “Batina” as my full Korean name, which conveniently has three syllables already. So I chose a legitimate family name of “Bu”, and then a given name of Taenam (or Tae-nam) because those are also legitimate Korean given names that sound the most like my last name when spoken together phonetically. Batina. Bu Tae-nam,
Granted, not perfect, but there are just certain sounds that aren’t in the Korean language that would allow something to have an exact phonetic translation. Plus, like I said, Bu is an actual family name – although not terribly common – and the given name of Tae is a masculine name, although I don’t think it typically has “nam” (which often means “south”) following it. You’d type all three Hangul characters together for the Hangul Korean version: 부태남 … but if you put a space after the second character, the American translation would be “booty” of all things.
So, that’s Bu Tae-nam in Hangul: 부태남. However, it’s not that simple. Korean names are also written in Hanja Korean, which use Chinese characters recognized by the SK government, to give meaning to each syllable. So, in Hanja I’ve chosen these three characters, which are still pronounced very close to “boo-tay-nam” if you wanted to speak the Hanja, But I believe people pronounce their names from the Hangul and only use the Hanja when they write it or have a name seal produced. But my Hanja characters are: 富怠男 which allegedly mean “Rich Man” when used together. But for example, the name Tae… there are about 20 different recognized Chinese symbols that you can choose from, and each one gives the “Tae” name a different meaning. I chose my symbols not because I’m bragging or think that I’m rich, but because they form the least ridiculous Hanja/Hangul translation that sounds phonetically similar to Batina.
Interestingly enough, it was coming across a random Japanese video about “name seals” that got me interested in choosing a Korean name. It seems that across many parts of Asia, name seals are actually recorded with the government and used in place of an actual signature. So when you have your name seal created, you can have it done in Hangul or Hanja, and the more stylized the design the better – as it can be made to look completely different than someone else’s with the same or very similar name. And having a larger than normal affinity for stationary and office product type stuff, it just all came together to make me curious enough to look into it as far as I did.
But like I said… this is only what I think is the proper way for choosing not only a Korean name, but as for how to write it in either Hangul or choose the Hanja characters for the Hangul which give each name its on meaning. I’m absolutely sure there’s plenty I’m just skipping past here, but that’s the basic idea of it. But in order to feel fully confident in choosing and using Bu Tae-nam as my Korean name, I’d really want to run it past a few authentic Korean citizens to see what they’re reaction to it would be. I wouldn’t want to have a bizarre Korean name, the same way we’d react if a Korean person moved here and picked out Johnny Whizbang McPuffinstuff as their name – just because there was a similarity somewhere along the way when it came to the phonetics.
So yeah, for now I’m still gonna say that I’m tentatively gonna call myself 부태남.
(Sorry, no emojis and little bold or italics or whatever – took all my brain reserves for tonight just to punch up this explanation and process as I’m familiar with it. And yeah, I’m definitely going to get a name seal at some point… obviously not registered anywhere… because it also reminds me of the sealing wax stamps that Mom used to have, which featured our family initials or monogram. It’s just something neat and unusual. Maybe more on this later… maybe not… carry on.)