Mingki, My Lovely Unique Name!

“What’s your name?”

“My name is Mingki.”

“What? Say again?”

“My name is MING-KI.”



This conversation happens every time people hear my name especially back in my country South Korea. Yes, my name is Mingki Choi, and I am originally from South Korea. There are two reasons why people are shocked by my name. First of all, my name came from Minky Momo, a Japanese animation character that was extremely popular, let’s say, a few decades ago (see the following photo). Secondly, and perhaps as a result of that cute cartoon, most people know more dogs than humans called Mingki. So it goes, the name is not associated with humans, but animated princesses and four-legged friends.


(Photo from http://www.zerochan.net/)

The culprit was my six-year older sister. When my mom was pregnant with me, my older sister was way falling so in love with this Minky Momo character and had suggested naming her innocent little sister ‘Mingki’. My mom, who is the strongest woman in the world to me, watched the program and loved it because Minky Momo helps poor people with her magic power, not to mention being pretty and cute with her pink hair. My mom had approved her six year old daughter’s suggestion.


However, my dad and his family members didn’t agree with my mom and my older sister. They said “What the heck are you doing? Mingki? It can’t be a human’s name. It’s only for dogs!”. Actually this is how normal people react. There are tons of dogs named Mingki in South Korea and people usually separate names of pets from human names.


What happened next? I told you that my mom is the strongest woman in the world to me. She pushed all the way and fought for my glorious name! In the end, my dad went to register my name as Mingki Choi!


Ever since becoming Mingki, my life has been full of funny stories about my name. One day I was on my way to school. Suddenly someone was yelling behind me, “MINGKI! MINGKI!”. I got frightened, as it sounded very urgent! When I turned around to see the person, a small, white, furry puppy passed me like a rocket. I couldn’t stop laughing, all by myself in the street! Also I remember a time when my friend was organizing a party with her friends. She told them, “Mingki is coming to the party”. They said “Hmmm, WHAT is Mingki?” They didn’t even think my name could be for humans.


(Photo from http://somnus.tistory.com/682)

I didn’t like my name at all when I was a furious and complicated teenager. This was because sometimes it could be very annoying to explain my name repeatedly to new people. On top of that, it takes time.


There was a moment that taught me to love my name. I was in my early 20’s. I was asking my mom how she really felt about my name and I’ll never forget what she told me. “Well, by the time I was pregnant with you, my financial and physical situation was desperate. I didn’t know how to pay rents and buy food. I was about to give up on being able to keep this family going. But when your innocent older sister was sitting next to me and watching Minky Momo, I couldn’t give up my daughters. I just prayed to god to bring this new baby with magic powers for a better future in our family!”


Now I thank my mom and older sister for naming me Mingki. And I always smile when I think about the fact that my older sister didn’t tell me anything about the story behind my name for all those years.


I am sorry for not having magic powers as she had wished for. But I have had magical, positive experiences in my life. I have lived and worked on three continents, with a career path through journalism, marketing, business and more. I’ve learned from the interesting people I’ve met and colourful places I’ve been, from studying for my Masters in the UK to touring around Mexico, Hawaii and more with my international friends. These days, I’m staying put in my new home, Toronto, where I work in marketing for a South Korean grocer.


I’m sure the travel bug will bite again soon, and I can’t wait to share more of my adventures with you! If you too love food and drinks, travel and adventure, culture, people, comedy, art…(my interests are limitless) we’ll get along great!


Do you have a funny story or unusual story behind your name? We’d love to hear from you. Tell us your name and when it came from in the comments. Lastly enjoy this Minky Momo music video and let’s sing along!


Categories: 2017

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12 replies »

  1. Hello, Mingki! Thank you for sharing your story – it was a lovely read! 💕

    My name is Jiwon. ‘Ji’ means intelligence, and ‘Won’ means beauty. The word as a whole, ‘Jiwon’, also has other meanings, my favorite one being ‘support’. By pronunciation, my name is a pretty common unisex name in Korea, but it has felt uniquely mine since I moved to Canada.

    I first began to notice the uniqueness of my name because of how much trouble it gave me. Most people were simply curious about my name, but some not only mispronounced it, but also pointed out that I have a “weird” name. In Korea, I grew up in a socially homogeneous community where I was never the odd one. On numerous occasions, I thought about whether I should make an English name for myself and be done with being the odd Korean girl. The struggle was brief but profound.

    In the end, I kept my Korean name, not in resistance or defiance, but rather as a reminder of the values I lived up to. If I had given myself an English name, then I would have considered my life in Canada as a completely detached chapter from my childhood in Korea. By keeping the name, I didn’t detach myself from the struggle, but instead translated it into a meaningful experience that could contribute to my personal growth. Now I have friends who like saying my name more than I do!

    P.S.: now when I introduce myself and find the person struggling to pronounce my name, I say it’s like the driver’s licence G1! This little trick has been working well so far 😉

    • Hi Jiwon! That’s great that you keep your Korean name! I know for some people it can be difficult to pronounce Korean names in the beginning, but one they get used to it, no problem! I love your little trick using the driver’s licence G1 ;-)

  2. 안녕하세요 밍기. My name is Sergio Andrés Vargas (Vargas is my surname). There’s a famous latin american signer named Sergio Vargas and many people usually ask me if I can sing too.

  3. Hi Mingki! My name is Marie-Noëlle, which could be translated as “Marie-Christmas”. My English teachers used to tease me about it, wishing me a Merry Christmas whenever they got the chance. But like you, I love my name! :)

  4. Hi, Mingki!
    My name is Jayden Hwang (황제이든)
    Even though the name “Jayden” is an English name, in fact, the nationality of my name is Korean!
    Jayden, written in hangul as 제이든, is a combination of
    “Jae” (공경할 “제”=悌:Chinese character meaning “Respect”), which is widely used by many Koreans to include in their names,
    & “Ee-deun” 이든 the native Korean word meaning “Kind/gentle”.

    (Korean Ver.) (English Ver.)

    황제이든 = 黃悌이든

    Nice to meet you !

  5. Thank-you for the story, Mingki. You may be interested to know that as a third generation Canadian, I find your name musical, delicate, and poetic. I don’t watch manga, only Korean drama, so it’s all a matter of your experience and perspective,I guess.

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