I moved to America at the age of 9, and have retained most of my Korean fluency (although it's only about Elementary school level). However, I lost most of the history that I learned during school. One of the things I miss the most is the history of my last name. Unfortunately, no one in my immediate family can give a detailed answer. All my extended family is in Korea and I do not keep in touch with most of them. Is there any way you could help me out? Since I can still read and understand Korean, I was able to track it down to this website (http://www.surname.info/i/jeon_ui.html), however once it gets into hanja and such, it gets too complicated for me. I saw that you had answered some of reader emails regarding specific last names and was hoping that you would look into mine.
Three years after the last installment of Korean last name series, we have another entry. Our questioner Kevin belongs to Jeon-Ui Lee clan [전의 이씨], the fourth largest Lee clan in Korea with over 130,000 members living in Korea as of 2000.
Jeon-Ui Lee clan, unfortunately, does not have a story as interesting as Gyeongju Son, which involves a mystical stone bell and such. The first Jeon-Ui Lee was a man name Lee Do [이도], who was a high official for the first king of Goryeo Dynasty. Jeon-Ui refers to an area now known as Chungcheongnam-do Yeon'gi-goon Jeon'ui-myeon, a rural area between the cities of Cheonan and Cheongju where Lee Do received his fiefdom from his king.
The website for Jeon-Ui Lee clan's lineage society is here.
Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at firstname.lastname@example.org.