Discovery Approach

Start with identifying the page structure of the records.  Identify how many generations are represented by each book in the volume by looking at the generation numbers on the right sides of pages.  After becoming familiar with the page structure, search each page for an individual’s gender and name.  Try using row generation numbers to narrow down which pages to search.  Find some sample birth dates for generation numbers to get a feel for which generations may contain the individual being searched for.  Birth dates can be quickly identified by looking for the (생, Saeng) character after dates.  See the previous examples for date formats.

When the record of an individual is found, identify the record structure.  Find the common vocabulary covered in this book to identify sections, birth and death dates, etc.  Look for HanJa representing lunar years and  vocabulary representing births, deaths, marriages, or children.   Determine if the individual was married and how many children they had.  Look up one generation row to identify their parents.  Look next to them on the same row to identify siblings after identifying how many children the parents had.  Determine if there were blood-line adoptions.  Look down one generation row to identify children.

Generally, in recent generations the year is specified in HanJa as well as in lunar years.  As you move up to older generations only the lunar years are listed.  Use the known solar years for lower generations to narrow down which solar years are represented by lunar years in earlier generations.  For example, if the solar birth year of a child is known, select solar years for the parents’ birth and death years that make sense and bound their children’s birth years.  Go up one generation at a time to accurately select the correct solar years for given lunar years using this method.

When faced with unknown HanJa, search the tables of this book or draw the HanJa at http://hanja.naver.com following the stroke order and direction taught in chapter 1.  Find and copy the HanJa character, then paste it into http://hanjadic.bravender.us to discover the English meaning of the character.  Search for groups of characters on http://hanjadic.bravender.us or http://www.google.co.kr to discover the meaning of words made up of multiple syllables.

Look for grave site locations to identify where the individuals lived.  Use online searches to learn more about those regions.  Fortunately, most Korean city names haven’t changed thru history, so it is normally easy to find information about where they lived.  Also look up the information about the city or town where the clan began.  Generally this city is in the clan title, which is also the title of the family registry.

Finally, learn about the history that took place during the time that the individuals lived.  This enriches understanding of their lives and intensifies the lessons of Korean history.

Discovering Korean ancestors is a challenging and rewarding endeavor.  The fundamentals introduced by this book provide a good foundation.  Learn, collaborate, and share as you discover Korean ancestors and history.  May your journey of discovery richly bless you as you discover the rich history of Korea.

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