Kimhae Kim Clan Genealogy (金海金氏族譜 김해김씨족보)

The following is the first preface from the 1754 Edition of the Kimhae Kim Family Clan Jokbo (族譜, 족보), or the Gapsulbo (甲戌譜, 갑술보). The translation is from the original Classical Chinese (漢文, 한문) and checked with the Korean translation. The few points of disagreement between the English and the Korean translation is where this blogger thought that the Korean translation was a loose translation of the original.


1754 Edition (Gapsul Year) of the Kimhae Kim Family Clan Genealogy Records, Preface I


Translated into English by Kuiwon

國有史, 史有世家, 家有牒, 牒有世譜, 譜之出久矣, 而欲其傳之也亦久矣.
국유사, 사유세가, 가유첩, 첩유세보, 보지출구의, 이욕기전지야역구의.

[Each] country has a history; [each] history has distinguished families; [each distinguished] family has a genealogy; [each] genealogy has [its own] record of the generations. We record genealogy to be shown for the ages. It is our intent to hand down this genealogy, also for the ages.

以之紀世尊系, 以之明倫敦俗, 譜之有關於家國也.
이지기세존계, 이지명륜돈속, 보지유관어가국야.

With it, we record generations and respect our Family Line. With it, we illuminate human relations and make courteous our customs. The existence of the genealogical records is related to our family clan and our country.

有如是而使故家世族, 咸知其祖先之立朝事君之道, 世守其忠節,
유여시이사고가세족, 함지기조선지립조사군지도, 세수기충절,

Since it is like this, let all the generations of our Family Clan know that [certain] Forefathers entered into bureaucratic ranks, knew the way of serving our Kings, and throughout the generations protected their loyalty and fidelity;

  • 故家世族(고가세족) – Generations of one illustrious family clan.
  • 立朝(입조) – To be raised to a bureaucratic position.

使遐苗微裔, 咸知其系派之同源分流之由,
사하묘미예, 함지기계파지동원분류지유,

Let all the distant descendants and faraway offspring know the identical fountainhead of their family branches and the origin of their dividing streams.

  • 分流(분류) – Literally “dividing streams.” Refers to different branches of the family clan.

各興其孝悌, 然後國可國家可家, 譜之不可無也, 又如是.
각흥기효제, 연후국가국가가가, 보지불가무야, 우여시.

After each member has been instilled with the sense of filial piety and fraternal love, a country can be like a country and a family clan can be like a family clan. We cannot help but record this, and again it is like this.

第各派世繼, 皆中絶莫有以詳. 其派分者, 無乃逸於兵, 世遠無憑而然耶.
제각파세계, 개중절막유이상. 기파분자, 무내일어병, 세원무빙이연야.

However, the records of each branch and the succeeding generations all have discontinuations in the middle and none of them are fully detailed. [The records] of each branch and division no longer exist or have been lost during invasions, and generations have grown distant without reliable records.

  • Korea was invaded during the 16th century by the Japanese and 17th century by the Manchus.

今世有氏族者, 必有譜. 有譜者, 皆有印本.
금세유씨족자, 필유보. 유보자, 개유인본.

In today’s age, those who belong to a family clan must have genealogical records. Those who have genealogical records all have printed editions.

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jokbo pic

Bunseong (盆城, 분성) is the old name for Kimhae (金海, 김해)

Koreans have been keeping genealogical records at least as early as the late Shilla Period (新羅, 신라, 57-935). Although no longer existent, Choi Chiweon (崔致遠, 최치원, 857-?), a famous scholar and bureaucrat, is said to have made a recording of the lineages of the Kings of the Shilla Dynasty. The first known, also no longer existent, full genealogical record in Korea was the Wangdaejongrok (王代宗錄, 왕대종록), which recorded the lineage of Goryeo kings (高麗, 고려, 918-1392) and was published sometime during King Euijong’s reign (毅宗, 의종, 1127-1173, r. 1146-1173). As for non-royals, the History of Goryeo (高麗史, 고려사) states that there was a separate bureaucratic office set up to record the lines of noble family clans. During the Chosun Period (朝鮮, 조선, 1392-1910), members of various family clans kept their own private records. Efforts at centralizing genealogical records for an entire family clan first came in 1476, with the Andong Kwon Clan’s (安東權氏, 안동권씨) Seonghwa Record (成化譜, 성화보). Other family clans soon followed this model.

Like all other family clans, the Kimhae Kim Clan did not originally have one centralized genealogical record; each branch or line had their own private records. Some of the larger branches did have centralized records for the entirety of their own branch. Since the Kimhae Kim Clan was the largest family clan in Korea even during the Chosun Dynasty, efforts to create a systematically arranged genealogical record for the entire family clan came fairly late and did not start until the 17th century, and first came to fruition in 1754 with the publication of the first edition. The express purpose was to encourage fraternal love (悌, 제) and strengthen human relations (人倫, 인륜) among kinsmen. To that end, the Kimhae Kim Clan arranged and published a number of editions of the genealogical records throughout the years: 

As for the historicity of genealogical records, one common claim is that many are fake. It is often noted that the vast majority of the Korean population during the Chosun dynasty were commoners or slave caste, who did not have surnames. Though fake genealogical records were a problem during the Late Chosun Period, it is not true that the vast majority of the Chosun dynasty’s population were commoners and slaves.The problem was actually the opposite and quite complex: by the 19th century, Yangban in fact constituted the majority of the population, and many of them were called “Fallen Yangban” or Janban (殘班, 잔반) because they were impoverished. One famous example is King Cheoljong (哲宗, 철종, 1831-1863, r. 1849-1863), who was a distant relative to the previous King. Before ascending the throne, King Cheoljong lived in squalor like a common farmer on Ganghwa Island (江華島, 강화도) and even had proposed to marry a slave girl. (If he had not become King and married her, their offspring would have been considered Yangban, thus further increasing the percentage of the Yangban population). As for fake records, another express purpose of the Kimhae Kim Clan’s publishing of centralized genealogical records was to respond to these forgeries. The catalogers of the records were quite open about shortcomings in the current edition and errors in previous records, and described what they did to correct them.

This list can be found in the Projects tab above. This blogger will slowly post translations starting with the first edition. It is possible that this listing is incomplete and some of the editions listed are for particular branches of the family clan.

Tomb of King Suro

The Kimhae Kim Clan (金海金氏, 김해김씨) is not only the largest Kim clan, but also the largest family clan overall in Korea. Its founding progenitor (始祖, 시조) is Kim Suro (金首路王, 김수로, 42-199), the founder of one of the states of Gaya (伽倻, 가야), which is more commonly referred in the family clan’s literature as Garak (駕洛, 가락), a small confederacy that existed in the south of Korea from 42 to 562 AD. (More about the legend concerning his birth in a future post). The progenitrix of the Family Clan is Heo Hwangok (許黃玉, 허황옥), who accordingly to legend came from the “Ayuta” State (阿踰陁國, 아유타국). (Various theories on her origin will also be in a future post). The Kings of the Garak State are as follows:

  1. King Suro (首路王, 수로왕, 42-199)
  2. King Geodeung (居登王, 거등왕, r. 199-253), also known as King Do (道王, 도왕)
  3. King Mapum (麻品王, 마품왕, r. 253-291), also known as King Seong (成王, 성왕)
  4. King Geojilmi (居叱彌王, 거질미왕, r. 291-346), also known as King Geummul (今勿王, 금물왕) and King Deok (德王, 덕왕)
  5. King Ishipum (伊尸品王, 이시품왕, r. 346-407), also known as King Myeong (明王, 명왕)
  6. King Jwaji (坐知王, 좌지왕, r. 407-421), also known as King Shin (神王, 신왕)
  7. King Chwiheui (吹希王, 취희왕, r. 421-451), also known as King Hye (惠王, 혜왕)
  8. King Jilji (銍知王, 질지왕, r. 451-491), also known as King Jang (莊王, 장왕)
  9. King Gyeomji (鉗知王, 겸지왕, r. 491-521), also known as King Suk (肅王, 숙왕)
  10. King Guhyeong (仇衡王, 구형왕, r. 521-532), also known as King Yang (讓王, 양왕)

After Garak was annexed by the Kingdom of Shilla (新羅, 신라) in 532, the family clan was absorbed into the “True Bone” rank (眞骨, 진골) of Shilla’s Bone Rank System (骨品制度, 골품제도), which was one of the highest ranks, and its members entered into various roles in Shilla’s governing class. Out of these, Kim Yushin (金庾信, 김유신, 595-673), the great-grandson of the last King, became a military general of Shilla and went on to conquer the Kingdoms of Baekje (百濟, 백제, 18BC-660AD) and Goguryeo (高句麗, 고구려, 37BC-668) for Shilla. He is considered to have reestablished the family clan and become its middle progenitor (中始祖, 중시조). The Kimhae Kim Family Clan played a prominent role in Shilla and Goryeo Dynasties (高麗, 고려, 918-1392) but its influence began to wane after the Early Period of the Chosun Dynasty. Prior to modern times, most of the members of the family clan resided in the Chungcheong (忠淸道, 충청도), Jeolla (全羅道, 전라도), and Gyeongsang (慶尙道, 경상도) Provinces. Throughout the ages, it expanded to almost 150 branches and subranches (派, 파). The direct descendant branches (直係宗派, 직계종파) that would pass down directly from Kim Yushin are the following:

  • Kimnyeonggung Branch (金寧君派, 김녕군파) or Gyeong Branch (京派, 경파), whose progenitor is Mokgyeong (牧卿, 목경)
  • Sagun Branch (四君派, 사군파), whose progenitor is Ikgyeong (益卿, 익경)
  • Samhyeon Branch (三賢派, 삼현파), whose progenitor is Gwan (管, 관)

There are more subbranches and subsubbranches within these branches. In addition, there are even more branches off non-direct lines and many more subbranches within those branches. This blog will cover at least the direct descendant branches in further detail.

Note: Also check out the Inje University Genealogy Library. It gives an introduction to Korean genealogy records.