1 Korean: there are four Chinese characters used for the Yang surname, but only two are common enough to consider here; they have between them eight clans. The founding ancestor of the Ch’ŏngju Yang clan was Chinese and stayed in Korea after escorting Koryŏ, King Kongmin's future queen to Korea. The first historical ancestor of the Cheju Yang clan was a Shilla figure named Yang T'ang, but according to legend, his distant ancestor was one of three men who ascended from a cave on the north side of Cheju Island's Halla Mountain. These three men were the founders of the Yang, Pu , and Ko clans. The legendary founder of the Yang clan was named Yang Ŭl-la. Some days after their emergence, a box washed up on the shore of the island. In the box were three women, horses, cows, and agricultural seed. From these beginnings, the three established Cheju's T'amnaguk kingdom and ruled peacefully for 900 years. Later, descendants of the three men settled throughout Korea, although 40 percent of the Yang clan still live on Cheju island and in Chŏlla province.2 Chinese 杨: from the name of the state of Yang during the Zhou Dynasty. The first king of this dynasty, Wu Wang ( 1122–1116 bc ), had a son named Tang Shuyu; a descendant of his was enfeoffed the state of Yang, and later descendants adopted the name of the state as their surname.3 Chinese 阳: from a region called Yang that existed in the state of Qi during the Spring and Autumn period ( 722–481 bc ).
Dictionary of American Family Names © Patrick Hanks 2003, 2006.