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Why ‘Nguyen’ Is Such A Popular Vietnamese Name? Here Are The Reasons!

More than 40% of the Vietnamese population which is equivalent to one in every three people in Vietnam has Nguyen as their last name. Even if you have encounter more than one ‘Nguyen’, they are most likely not related at all. There are about 38 million ‘Nguyen’ around the world!

Compared to Korean and Chinese names, a Vietnamese full name is slightly different in structure. It has three main parts with the most common length of three or four words. But why ‘Nguyen’? Why do so many Vietnamese people have the same last name? Here are a few explanations for this.

China’s reign was at a chaotic climax during the years from 430 to 528. A large part of the Nguyen family of Anhui, Zhejiang, and Guangzhou moved to Vietnam. They are the ones to set the primary base for the growth of Nguyen as a last name. The immigration phase of Nguyen families of China continued until the end of the first century. Ever since then, the number of people with Nguyen as their last name has increased.

Pictures: Local Insider

However, the most significant development of the Nguyen family name happened during the Tran reign. Tran Thu Do was in charge to run the country on behalf of the teenage king Tran Canh, after taking over the country from Ly Dynasty. He then made the whole community of people with Ly as their last name change their last name into Nguyen. It was to hide the existence of the Ly last name but the reason why he chose ‘Nguyen’ as the substitute is still unanswerable. It might be a random choice made by Tran Thu Do.

In fact, the rule of changing last names actually existed since ancient times. There is an unwritten rule where all people that had the family name of the previous royal family must change theirs to Nguyen once the country was taken over by a new empire. History repeated itself when Ho family took over the country after defeating Tran Monarchy. The Ho empire wanted to clear out all of the Tran family members. At the end of its era, they feared revenge from the next reign so the members of the Ho family changed their last name to Nguyen to hide from the enemy.

Picture: Google

In the early years of the 19th century, Nguyen’s reign finally ran the country and the previous royal family also changed their last name to Nguyen to save their life. During this time, people with the same last name as the royal which is Nguyen were more likely to receive more benefits. The people and prisoners even changed their last name to Nguyen. These many historical events led to the number of Nguyen families throughout the country had become bigger than ever.

As if there weren’t enough Nguyen family members, the French during their colonialism in Vietnam decided on the last name for Vietnamese people without one and they chose Nguyen. They chose this name due to it being the final monarchy in Vietnam.

Once again, the number of people with Nguyen as their last name escalated, and now every time you meet someone with Nguyen as their last name, you will know the history behind the most common last name in Vietnam.

Sources: Local Insider

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