In the rich tapestry of Korean cultural traditions, the name stamp holds a special place. Known as dojang (도장) in Korean, these personal name stamps (name seals) are deeply rooted in the country’s history and societal structures, and serve as an extension of your identity, much like a fingerprint or a signature in the Western world.
You can use the dojang for signing legal documents and contracts. In these cases, the stamp effectively replaces the handwritten signature, providing a legally recognized seal of approval or authenticity. Despite the rise of digital technology, the importance of dojang remains undiminished, as an enduring testament to Korea’s reverence for tradition.
One of the unique aspects of the dojang is its deeply personal nature. Every name stamp is unique, with the engraved name and chosen script style reflecting the individual’s identity. This personal aspect of the dojang extends to the very act of receiving one. In many cases, the stamp is gifted by a close friend or family member, highlighting the significance of the relationship and demonstrating a deep understanding of the recipient’s character.
If you intend to use your dojang as your signature, you will need to register at the local district office. Once the dojang is registered, it is considered validated for official use. Foreigners can also register a dojang, if you are staying in Korea on a long-term visa (more than 6 months). If you are a tourist or a short-term visitor, you can still have a dojang made as a personal memento, but it won’t be recognized for official use.
When I was visiting Jeonju Hanok Village with my friend Ella and her husband, they gave me the beautiful dojang, you can see in the photos of this post. It was not just a souvenir, but a symbol of my connection to the Korean culture, a token of our friendship, and a very tangible representation of my Korean identity. Thank you so much Ella, such a wonderful gift!