‘Jeon’ became ‘Takamatsu’ and ‘Park’ became ‘Masaki’: 1940 profiles of Korean families in Seoul adopting Japanese names to purportedly honor their Korean roots, be accepted by Japanese neighbors, to better interact with the public, to instill a ‘spirit befitting Imperial subjects’ in their children

This 1940 article profiles two Korean families in Seoul who adopted Japanese names: the Jeon family, which became the Takamatsu family, and the Park family, which became the Masaki family. The father of the Jeon family worked at the Oriental Development Company, which was a national enterprise of Imperial Japan spearheading the colonial exploitation of Korea, and was at one point the largest landlord of Korea. A different Korean employee of the same company was featured in another Model Korean family profile article in 1942. The father of the Park family was a Seoul police officer at the Seodaemun precinct. We can surmise that they adopted Japanese names to curry favor with their employers, who were part of the colonial ruling class which controlled Korea. The fathers are conspicuously absent from the featured family photos for some reason, perhaps as a security precaution since they were hated figures by much of the Korean population.

For this translation, I added Chinese characters throughout the text so that it is possible to appreciate how these families took Chinese characters from their old Korean names and incorporated them into their new Japanese names.

Kimiko Takamatsu (高松喜美子), formerly Shin Sook-hui (신숙희, 申淑嬉), with her children.



Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) February 11, 1940

‘A last name that is associated with the Goryeo Dynasty

She is thrilled to be an Imperial Woman

Interview with Kimiko Takamatsu, the wife of Mr. Keiichi Takamatsu, an employee at the Oriental Development Company of Korea)

Listening to joyous stories about adopting Japanese names

My family is very happy to be able to adopt the family name of Takamatsu on this auspicious occasion. My husband’s old Korean last name, Jeon, is said to have been derived from the family name of the former King of Goryeo. For our new family name, we decided to take the Chinese character “高” from Goryeo (高麗) and the Chinese character “松” from Songdo (松都), the old name for present-day Kaesong and the former capital of the Goryeo Dynasty, to create our new family name, Takamatsu (高松).

I believe that it is essential for the education of our children to adopt a family name in the Japanese style in order to nurture a spirit befitting Imperial subjects. We are also hurrying to complete the family registration procedures, lest we miss this opportunity and become hated by our descendants for a long time to come.

We are more than happy when we think that our children will be overjoyed at adopting Japanese names, and that from today onward, our neighbors will be able to accept us as fellow Japanese people without feeling ashamed of us.

On this joyous day, we firmly vow to become true Imperial subjects while filled with joy at adopting Japanese names. My husband’s old name was Jeon Gyu-hye (전규혜, 全圭恵), and his new name is Keiichi Takamatsu (高松恵一).

Our family was renamed as follows: Shin Sook-hui (신숙희, 申淑嬉) became Kimiko Takamatsu (高松喜美子), Jeon Hye-seok (전혜석, 全恵錫) became Keiko Takamatsu (高松恵子), Jeon Soon-seok (전순석, 全純錫) became Junko Takamatsu (高松純子), Jeon Yeong-ok (전영옥, 全英玉) became Tamako Takamatsu (高松玉子), Jeon Dae-seok (전대석, 全大錫) became Daiichi Takamatsu (高松大一), and Jeon Yeong-ja (전영자, 全英子) became Eiko Takamatsu (高松英子).

[Photo (bottom) = Kimiko Takamatsu and her children]

Yoshiko Masaki (正木吉子), formerly Lee Myeong-gil (이명길, 李明吉), and her daughter Junko


Last name ‘Park’ was changed to ‘Masaki’

Memorable Shinto Wedding Ceremony

Interview with Yoshiko Masaki, the wife of Mr. Hideo Masaki, a police officer at Seodaemun Police Station, Seoul

On this auspicious occasion of the 2,600th anniversary of the founding of the Imperial Japanese nation, we are honored to adopt the family name of Masaki. What can I compare our family’s joy with, now that we have been able to fully become Imperial subjects, both physically and mentally?

Three years ago, we were married in front of the Chōsen Shrine, and we were completely moved by the solemnity and grandeur of the wedding ceremony. My husband has called me Yoshiko since that day. I am not sure if the people of Korea would be able to understand our gratitude for the Shinto wedding. When the civil ordinance for the adoption of new Japanese family names was issued, my husband and I had to think for a long time about what kind of name we should choose for our new family name.

My husband said that, since he has to deal with the general public due to his profession, it was very important for him to create a family name in the Japanese style. At last, at this opportune moment, we decided to break off from the Park family and adopt the family name of ‘Masaki’. The family name ‘Masaki’ (正木) is an interpretation of the Chinese character ‘朴’ for Park, and it has no deep meaning. Apparently there is an old Korean custom for couples to remain faithful to their own respective family names even after marriage, but it seems like a rather strange custom to me.

From today onward, as a wife with the family name of Masaki, I would like to live a stronger and purer life as a woman on the home front in these extraordinary times. My husband’s name is Hideo Masaki (正木英雄), formerly Park Yeong-do (박영도, 朴英道). My name is Yoshiko Masaki (正木吉子), formerly Lee Myeong-gil (이명길, 李明吉), and our daughter is named Junko.

[Photo (above): Yoshiko Masaki and Junko]

Source: https://www.archive.org/details/kjnp-1940-02-11


京城日報 1940年2月11日