Most of them said they had been bullied or mistaken for someone else because of their names.
When ``hideous'' criminals, including serial killers and pedophiles, were caught, people who had the same names as theirs filed for revisions, which were mostly accepted.
A Korean-language article gives examples of such names: 강호순, 조두순, 김길태. Since names are collections of a limited number of syllables, you're bound to have a lot of repeats. Searching on Naver for instance turns up notable people who share those three names. I'd be interested to see how many Kim Kil-tae's there are, or at least how many changed their name after his crime.
The Chosun Ilbo translation has some more information:
Among the 162,246 people whose application was approved by the Supreme Court last year, Min-jun was the most popular name for men with 552 people, and Seo-yeon for women with 1,401. In the past, many people wanted to change names that sounded old-fashioned or unpleasant, but now an increasing number of people do so for superstitious reasons such as choosing names believed to bring prosperity.
. . .
According to data published by the National Court Administration, popular names have changed over time. The most popular names in 1948 were Young-su for men and Sun-ja for women. But in recent years, unisex names such as Ji-won and Hyeon-seo are being preferred.
I don't remember ever meeting a Sun-ja.
With "hideous criminals" in the news again I'm reminded of something I noticed last year, and have an opportunity to finally write a post about it. I taught at two middle schools in Suncheon, and between them had over 50 classes of about 35 students each. I saw each class once or twice a month---one class had a three-month gap between meetings---and if that didn't make it hard enough to learn names, I never got class rosters. I'm glad students were required to wear name tags, and I'm glad some homeroom teachers had seating charts taped to their desks (that doesn't do any good when classes are mixed up according to level).
Anyway, the point is I didn't know students' names, and didn't see class rosters until it was time to give speaking tests at the end of the semester. Groups of five students would join me at a table and I'd match their names with their student numbers. A few times I'd have the right number, and the right student, but a different name on the roster. Turns out some parents would change their students' names mid-semester.
I sent an email to the author of Ask A Korean! last March, and he responded that there are two possible explanations for changing a teenager's name:
Koreans generally believe that a good name is essential to good fortune, and some parents apparently realize that there is a better name out there. Two, the other way around -- sometimes the parents force a "good name" onto a child, only to realize later that the name sounds ridiculous and subjects the child to being teased at school.
I still remember the names of my favorite students, and there are some other names that stand out. There was a Kim Dae-jung, president of South Korea from 1998 to 2003. There was a Park Ji-sung, who shares the name of Korea's most famous soccer export. And my first year I taught a Han Guk-in (한국인), or "Korean." That's way more weird than having a guy named after the German word for German.