Traditionally, it is very important to have a son in Korea. A son carries on the family line in the family registry. Family registries are paternal – building maternal lines requires multiple registries from each family in the line. It is particularly important for the eldest son to have a son, as he will inherit leadership of the extended family. However, there are cases where the eldest son does not have a son of his own. A common remedy for this problem is a “blood-line adoption” where one of the eldest son’s siblings gives him their second son. When this takes place, the son of a sibling becomes the son and inheritor of the eldest son.
Family registries record blood-line adoptions. The adopted son is placed under the eldest son, to designate his new adopted father, but the fact that it is a blood-line adoption is clearly indicated. The real father is also recorded.
An adopted son’s record has some additional elements that aren’t found in the previous examples. The son-less father records the adoption of his sibling’s son under his line. However, instead of the adopted son’s record starting with the HanJa for son子 (자, Ja), as seen in previous examples, it starts with 子系 (자계, JaGyae), literally meaning “child line” or “child connection.” Next, the adopted child’s given name is recorded. Following the given name, you will find the HanJa version of the word生父 (생부, SaengBu), meaning “birth father” or real father, and the birth father’s given name. Since the real father is a sibling of the adopted father (generally the eldest son), you already know the family name of the real father. They are all from the same family and share the family name that is in the title of the family registry for the clan. The rest of the adopted son’s record follows the same patterns as previous examples.
The son-less father who adopts the son of his sibling also has a difference in his record. At the end of the adopting father’s record, instead of recording 一男 (1남, 1 Nam) to indicate one son, the record says 系男 (계남, GyaeNam), literally meaning “line son” and indicating a blood-line adoption that continues the family line.