batwingedteapot (batwingedteapot) wrote in little_details,

Taisho Japan and Joseon Korea lady names

Setting: 1910's to 20's, generally. Jumps around a lot (time travel), but the problem characters come from alternate Taisho-era Japan and a non-colonized Joseon-Dynasty Korea that doesn't morph into an empire.

Premise: Rip-off of The One (Jet Li) and every other alternate-universe story. Children's book.

Two versions of a major character are Korean and Japanese, either a princess (preferably the Korean one) or an aristocrat (Japanese), though I'll be fine with having both as princesses or aristocrats. I'm having trouble with the names, as my knowledge of Chinese characters go as far as online dictionaries (Breen's, Yellowbridge, and Wiktionary) and my knowledge of period- and class-appropriate names comes from hours spent slogging through the wikipedia pages of the royal families. And in any case, I have my favorites and wouldn't want to limit the name options to the list of royals there...

I need names that sound good to the English speaker's ear and appropriate for the character: intelligent and strong (I realize this is subjective, so let's just say she's an antagonist who becomes an anti-hero), though the kanji and hanja don't have to be either. Since she grows from child to young adult through the story and I'm leaving the door open for older versions to appear, the name should also fit her at different ages.

I want Reiko (怜子) for the Japanese version, but I have no idea if this is appropriate, especially as I've noticed that upper-class lady names tend to be three syllables and use the kunyomi/nanori readings. Other names on my list:

Ayako (絢子) - appropriate, with several princesses and aristocratic ladies with this name; sounds too soft to my non-Japanese ear, though, and probably prone to mispronunciation
Yuriko (百合子/優理子/愉理子) - don't know if it's appropriate, as in addition to my problems with Reiko I've only seen one lady from a daimyo family with this name generations after the period; also, might be too much as my chosen surname is a three-kanji one ; also prone to mispronunciation
Kiyoko (潔子) - too "cute", might sound weird, doesn't sound smart; also prone to mispronunciation
Aiko - last resort, as it's too "cute", doesn't sound smart and to me doesn't fit a grandmother

I'm more undecided with the Korean version. Names I stole from the royal family are Hae-Ryeon (海孌 or 海蓮) and Jeong-Hwa (婷/正/貞/淨/禎/靖 和/華). My attempt at originality (by finding out that there's such a name via Google) is Hye-Ryeong (慧令).

Opinions and suggestions, please. Any information about naming patterns would help. And feel free to tell me how neurotic I am. :)

Research: wikipedia pages of Korean and Japanese royalty, also the Korean and Japanese wikipedias with the aid of Google Translate. And the online dictionaries, of course.
Tags: japan: history, korea: history, ~languages: japanese, ~languages: korean, ~names, ~nobility (misc)

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