Koihime Musou Girls and Related Korean Clans, Part XVIII: Joo (주/周)

Legend:
  • Dark Magenta = Sangju Joo Clan (Sangju City, Northern Gyeongsang)
  • Blue = Cheorwon Joo Clan (Cheorwon County, Gangwon Province)

Joo (주/周), sometimes romanized Ju, Choo or Chu is a common Korean surname which means 'circumference' in Sino-Korean Language, similar to Chinese Zhou. Zhou is the 10th most common surname in Mainland China and 74th in Korean Peninsula. It has been one of the ten most common surnames in China since the Mongol-controlled Yuan Dynasty. The number of Koreans who bear the surname of 周 (circumference) are five times lesser than the Koreans who born with the surname of 朱 (vermilion or scarlet). Coincidentally, these two Hanja Characters are pronounced as Joo (주) in Hangul.

According to historical records, the origin of the Zhou surname dates back to the imperial kinsmen of the Zhou Dynasty, which ruled China for 874 years. The original surname of the royal Zhou family was Ji. In 256 BCE, the Qin Dynasty conquered the Zhou Dynasty and put Rufen under the jurisdiction of Runan County. Ji Yong, a descendant of Emperor Ping of the Zhou Dynasty, which lived on the system of enfeoffment (investing nobility with hereditary titles) in Rufen, changed his surname to Zhou to commemorate the merits and virtues of his ancestors. The descendants of Emperor Nan of the Zhou Dynasty, who were called the Zhou family after the Zhou Dynasty had been destroyed, also took on the Zhou surname. Since then the Zhou surname has become a common family name in Runan.

During the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty, the emperor issued an imperial edict to change the Ji surname to Zhou to avoid the taboo of his personal name. This was also a major source of the Zhou family name.

Apart from these roots, the change of surnames by ethnic minorities and Han people also contributed to the formation of the Zhou surname. For example, Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty also changed the Ji surname, a different Chinese character but with the same pronunciation as the royal family name in the Zhou Dynasty, into Zhou. The Helu and Pu surnames of the Xianbei nationality in the Beizhou Empire (the Northern Zhou) and the Xitong and Shuhu surnames of the Mongolian nationality in the Yuan Dynasty were also changed into Zhou.

Passed down from the royal family in the Zhou Dynasty, the Zhou surname, of course, was extraordinary. People with the Zhou surname could be found all over the country due to enfeoffment and migration through the ages -- especially from Runan, the largest dwelling place for the Zhou family. Generally speaking, the migration of the Zhou family followed the pattern of "west to east" and "south to north". Later, people with the Zhou surname moved to Taiwan from the Fujian and Guangdong provinces.

Back in Korea, there are 37,420 people who bear the surname of Joo, based on the 2015 Korean Republic Census - provided by Statistics Korea (통계청/統計廳/Tonggyecheong/KOSTAT). There are seven designated clans (본관/本貫) for this clan which are:
  • Sangju Joo Clan (상주 주씨/尙州周氏) = Originated from Sangju City, Northern Gyeongsang Province, ROK
  • Anui Joo Clan (안의 주씨/安義周氏 = Originated from Anui-myeon, Hamyang County, Southern Gyeongsang Province, ROK
  • Jangheung Joo Clan (장흥 주씨/長興周氏) = Originated from Jangheung County, Southern Jeolla Province, ROK
  • Cheorwon Joo Clan (철원 주씨/鐵原周氏) = Originated from Cheorwon County, Gangwon Province, ROK
  • Chogye Joo Clan (초계 주씨/草溪周氏) = Originated from Chogye-myeon, Hapcheon County, Southern Gyeongsang Province, ROK
  • Punggi Joo Clan (풍기 주씨/豊基周氏) = Originated from Punggi-eup, Yeongju City, Northern Gyeongsang Province, ROK
  • Haman Joo Clan (함안 주씨/咸安周氏) = Originated from Haman County, Southern Gyeongsang Province, ROK

The Sangju Lineage is the largest among seven, where this lineage consists of 22,909 people. Sangju Joo Clan was founded by Joo Yi (주이/周頤), a Chinese Tang Scholar who migrated to Silla Kingdom during the second reigning year of King Wonseong Kim Kyung-shin, 38th King of Silla Kingdom (786) and at the same time, he became the Magistrate of Sangju (상주총관/尙州摠管/Sangju Chonggwan). The latter descendants of Joo Yi designated Sangju City, Northern Gyeongsang Province as their ancestral home.

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