1 Korean: there are two Chinese characters for the surname Cho. Some records indicate a total of 210 different clans which use the more common Cho character, but only fifteen can be documented with confidence. Each of these claims a different founding ancestor. Most of them trace their origins to the beginning of the Koryŏkingdom (early 10th century). Only one clan, the Ch'angnyŏng Cho, uses the other Chinese character. The founder of this clan's name was Cho Kye-ryong. According to legend, there was a certain scholar named Yi Kwang-ok, whose daughter very much wanted to marry. A monk visited her and told her to go to Hwawang Mountain to pray at the dragon pond. The maiden did so, and upon her return found herself to be pregnant. In a dream, a young man with a crown and a jade belt appeared to her. A few months later, in the 48th year of the reign of the Shilla King Chinp'yŏng ( ad 626 ), she gave birth to a little boy under whose arm the Chinese character for Cho appeared in red. The king, understanding the boy to be special, named him Cho Kyeryong and married him to his daughter, the princess. So began the Ch'angnyŏng Cho clan.2 Chinese 曹: Min variant of Cao .3 Chinese 卓: variant of Zhuo .
Dictionary of American Family Names © Patrick Hanks 2003, 2006.