Korean: written 김 in Chinese characters 金 meaning ‘gold’. This is the only Chinese character for the surname Kim which is the most common Korean surname comprising about 20 percent of the Korean population. According to some sources there are over 600 different Kim clans but only c. 100 have been documented. Kims can be found in virtually every part of Korea. The two largest Kim clans the Kim family of Kimhae and the Kim family of Kyŏngju are descended from semi-mythological characters who lived two thousand years ago. According to legend the Kimhae Kim family founder Kim Suro came in answer to a prayer offered by the nine elders of the ancient Karak Kingdom. In 42 AD these elders met together to pray for a king. In answer to their prayer they were sent a golden box containing six golden eggs. From the first egg emerged King Su-ro Karak's first king. The other five eggs became the five kings of Karak's neighboring kingdom Kaya. The founder of the Kim family of Kyŏngju Kim Al-ji had similar origins. In 65 AD the king of Shilla T’alhae heard a strange sound from a forest near the Shilla capital Kyŏngju. On investigation he found a crowing white rooster standing next to a golden egg. From this egg emerged Al-ji founder of the Kyŏngju Kim family and subsequent king of the Shilla Kingdom. Because Al-ji emerged from a golden egg King T’alhae bestowed upon the child the surname Kim which means ‘gold’. It is estimated that about half of the one hundred or so Kim clans of modern Korea are descended from the Kyŏngju Kim clan. Chinese: Teochew Hokkien and Taiwanese form of the surname 金 meaning ‘gold’ see Jin This surname is found mainly in other parts of Southeast Asia to which Chinese people migrated from Taiwan Fujian province and eastern Guangdong province. Chinese: possibly from Romanization of Chinese names such as 金 (meaning ‘gold’) or 锦 (meaning ‘bright and beautiful’) which were monosyllabic personal names or part of disyllabic personal names of some early Chinese immigrants in the US. Vietnamese: from the Chinese surname 金 see Jin Swiss German: unexplained.
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, 2022