You may know TWICE‘s elegant and talented lead vocalist as Jeongyeon, but that wasn’t always her name—and the reason she had it legally changed is pretty sad.
Jeongyeon first told the story back in 2016 during a live broadcast with leader Jihyo, who was born Jisoo and also changed her legal name. When Jeongyeon was born on November 1, 1996, her parents gave her a different name: Yoo Kyung Wan.
Based on the Hanja characters used for Jeongyeon’s birth name, the rough meaning of Kyung Wan can be read as “delicate and graceful” or “talented and beautiful”.
But while the meaning of Kyung Wan fits Jeongyeon’s elegance, beauty, and skill perfectly, there was one problem with the name: it got her bullied.
That name [Kyung Wan] was a big concern to me. I had a lot of stress because of the name.
Jeongyeon explained that she used the name Kyung Wan until she was around nine years old, but she “had many concerns over the name“. Sadly, although Kyung Wan is technically a unisex name, it’s used much more commonly for girls.
There are two male Korean baseball players with the name, for example: Lim Kyung Wan (sometimes spelled Lim Gyoung Wan) and Park Kyung Wan (sometimes spelled Park Kyung Oan).
Several K-Dramas have also featured male characters named Kyung Wan, including Stranger, City Hunter, and The Promise. During the live broadcast, Jihyo playfully referred to Jeongyeon as “Kyung Wan-oppa“, emphasizing just how manly the name sounds to many Koreans.
Jeongyeon revealed that even her own friends teased her, telling her Kyung Wan sounded like a boy’s name. Eventually, the stress of all the bullying became too much for Jeongyeon to continue bearing. As such, her mother decided to take drastic action to put a stop to all the teasing: changing young Kyung Wan’s name to a “pretty one“—Jeongyeon.
The name Jeongyeon was likely chosen because it sounds similar to the name of her older sisters, actress Gong Seung Yeon and non-celebrity Seo Yeon.
The Hanja characters for Jeongyeon can roughly be translated to “prolonged stability”. But while the meaning is less girly than the TWICE’s stars old name, the name itself is perceived as wholly feminine.
After she had her name legally changed, Jeongyeon reveals she was far happier. She liked the name Jeongyeon so much, she wrote it over and over on paper.
No matter your thoughts on the name Kyung Wan, Jeongyeon certainly got the edge on her childhood bullies when she grew up to become the much-loved idol she is today.
All the Kyung Wans in the world, we love you.