Shin (Korean surname)

Shin is a Korean family name. It is cognate to the Chinese family names Shēn (申) and Xin (辛). According to the 2000 census in South Korea, there were 911,556 people carrying the Shin surname.

Revised RomanizationSin


There are three Chinese characters for the Shin surname. Between these three characters, there are six different clans. Each Shin clan descends from a different founding ancestor. One of the Shin clans, the Yeongsan Shin clan traces its origins to China. Members of the various Shin clans can be found throughout the Korean peninsula.

As with other Korean family names, the holders of the "Shin" family name are divided into various clans, each known by the name of a town or city, called bon-gwan in Korean. Usually that town or city is the one where the clan's founder lived. There are six lines of Shin: (1) Pyeongsan Shin (平山 申), (2) Goryeong Shin (高靈 申), (3) Aju Shin (鵝洲 申) (4) Saknyeong Shin (朔寧 申) (5) Yeongsan Shin (靈山 辛), and (6) Samgal Shin (삼갈 愼). Although the first four clans — Pyeongsan Shin, Goryeong Shin, Aju Shin, and Saknyeong Shin — share the same Chinese character 申, they are unrelated in heritage. The fifth lineage uses the Chinese character 辛, and the sixth lineage uses the Chinese character 愼.

Shrine of Shin Sung-gyeom in northern Daegu.

The Pyeongsan Shin lineage makes up about 70% of all those with the name Shin using the Chinese character 申. The clan's founder was General Shin Sung-gyeom. This clan associated with a mountain in North Korea called "Pyeongsan" (平山, literally "mountain of peace"). The mountain was originally named Samneungsan (三能山, literally "mountain of three talents"), without a family name, before being linked to the Shin surname by King Taejo of Goryeo.

According to the Pyeongsan Shin family legend, one day when King Taejo and his generals went out hunting near Pyeongsan, Taejo saw three geese flying above them, and asked his generals whether any of them could shoot the geese down. Shin Sung-gyeom volunteered and asked Taejo which one he should shoot. Taejo asked Shin to shoot the third goose in its left wing, and to Taejo's surprise, Shin completed the task. Taejo was highly impressed and gave Shin 300 gyeol (결 or 結, an ancient measurement of area) of local land, which became Shin Sung-gyeom's hometown.

Shin Sung-gyeom also saved the life of King Taejo of Goryeo during a disastrous battle with Hubaekje near present-day Daegu in the early 10th century. Taejo awarded General Shin the clan name Pyeongsan Sin, after his hometown, for his loyalty and bravery he showed in the battle. Other prominent members of this clan include the 16th-century artist, writer, and poet Shin Saimdang and the 19th-century pansori writer Shin Jae-hyo.

Every year, a number of people who claim to belong to the Pyeongsan Shin clan gather at the memorial shrine of Shin Sung-gyeom in the South Korean province of Gangwon Province. Prior to the Korean war, the original shrine was situated in the now North-Korean province of Hwanghae Province, to which the clan land of Pyeongsan traces its roots.

Another well-known line that also uses the Chinese character 申 is the Goryeong Shin, descended from Shin Suk-ju, who was the lead scholar to work with King Sejong the Great in the development of Hangul, the Korean written language. Shin Suk-ju was also a high ranking government minister and belonged to the Hall of Worthies. The Goryeong Shin lineage makes up about 17% of all those who carry the Shin name using the Chinese character 申. Three of five members of Shin Suk-ju's 16th generation are known to have immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. One descendant of the Shins to travel to the US is a famous and scholarly physician named David Sheen. Another prominent member of the clan is Danjae Shin Chaeho, a 19th-century nationalist historian.

List of ShinsEdit



See alsoEdit