Famous Korean People You Need to Know About in 2024

most famous korean people in history


You are in the right place to know about the most famous people in the history of Korea. The is the ultimate list of famous people you must Google and learn more about.

I have living in Korea for more then 6 months. As a someone who has been living here and continuously discovering the culture of Korea. 

This is the list of celebrities, artists, leaders and entertainers who have shaped Korean identity and made a significant mark of the world stage. They all are here, from famous Korean heroes to celebrities to world leaders.

Let’s dive into the stories of famous Korean celebrities.

Sejong the Great (10 April 1397 – 17 February 1450) greatly contributed to Korea. He was a remarkable ruler and is also known for inventing the Korean alphabet. King Sejong was the fourth king of the Joseon dynasty. During his reign, he achieved significant accomplishments in politics, economics, culture, and defense. The foundation of his rule was always his love and sympathy for ordinary people.

king sejong

Yi Sun-sin, Admiral

Yi Sun-sin is another great man in the history of Korea of all time. He saved Korea from Japan. Yi Sun-sin was born on April 28, 1545, and died on December 16, 1598.

He fought in around 23 successful naval battles during the war, often facing bigger fleets and shortages. His most famous win was at the Battle of Myeongnyang, where he defeated 333 Japanese ships with just 13 of his own, without losing any. Yi died in battle on December 16, 1598.

Yi is celebrated as one of the greatest naval commanders ever, admired for his clever strategies and brave leadership. He’s a revered figure in Korean history.

Yi Sun Sin

Yi Hwang, Koean philosopher

Yi Hwang (1501–1570) is considered the most important philosopher in Korean history of all time. He was not only a philosopher but also a writer and Confucian scholar of the Joseon period.

As a Neo-Confucian scholar, Yi Hwang founded the Yeongnam School and established the Dosan Seowon, a private Confucian academy. Yi Hwang is often referred to as Toegye (“Retreating Creek”). His main work, “Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning,” has been translated into many languages.

During the invasion of Korea, some of his writings were taken by the Japanese military.

Yi Hwang Statue from Wikipedia
Yi Hwang Statue from Wikipedia

Jang Yeong-Sil, Korean Scientist

Jang Yeong is a remarkable historical figure in Korean history, renowned for inventing the world’s first gauge called “Cheugugi.” He was a Korean mechanical engineer, scientist, and inventor during the Joseon Dynasty. Jang Yeong was highly talented and is considered to have made significant contributions to the technological advancements of the era.

Jang Yeong-sil statue

Shin Saimdang, Korean painter

Shin Saimdang (29 October 1504 – 17 May 1551) was a Korean artist, writer, calligraphist, and poet who lived during the Joseon period. Born in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, her birth home, Ojukheon, is still preserved today. She was the mother of the Korean Confucian scholar Yi Yi and was often seen as a model of Confucian ideals, earning her the respectful nickname Eojin (“Wise Mother”). Her real name was Shin In-seon, and she used pen names like Saim, Saimdang, Inimdang, and Imsajae. She was a contemporary of the poet Heo Nansseolheon, and the two women were considered rivals.

Shin Saimdang

Queen Sondok, Korean Queen

Queen Seondeok of Silla, born in 580 or 610 – 20 February 647/January 8, was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, reigning from 632 to 647.

She was Silla’s 27th ruler and its first queen. Queen Seondeok encouraged a cultural revival in Silla and was known for her wisdom and kindness. She promoted Buddhism, fostered talent, and built relations with the Tang Dynasty, paving the way for Korea’s unification. She’s celebrated as one of Korea’s greatest monarchs.

Queen Seondeok
Queen Seondeok from Wikipedia

Yu Gwan-sun, Korean activist

Yu Gwan-sun, born December 16, 1902, is significantly famous for the Korean Independent Movement. She played a significant role in South Chungcheong during the March 1st Movement protests against Japanese colonial rule. Her activism has made her one of the most famous Korean independence activists and a symbol of the movement.

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