There are three Chinese characters for the Shin surname. Between these three characters, there are six different clans. Each Shin clan descends from a different founding ancestor. One of the Shin clans, the Yeongsan Shin clan traces its origins to China. Members of the various Shin clans can be found throughout the Korean peninsula.
As with other Korean family names, the holders of the "Shin" family name are divided into various clans, each known by the name of a town or city, called bon-gwan in Korean. Usually that town or city is the one where the clan's founder lived. There are six lines of Shin: (1) Pyeongsan Shin (平山 申), (2) Goryeong Shin (高靈 申), (3) Aju Shin (鵝洲 申) (4) Saknyeong Shin (朔寧 申) (5) Yeongsan Shin (靈山 辛), and (6) Samgal Shin (삼갈 愼). Although the first four clans — Pyeongsan Shin, Goryeong Shin, Aju Shin, and Saknyeong Shin — share the same Chinese character 申, they are unrelated in heritage. The fifth lineage uses the Chinese character 辛, and the sixth lineage uses the Chinese character 愼.
The Pyeongsan Shin lineage makes up about 70% of all those with the name Shin using the Chinese character 申. The clan's founder was General Shin Sung-gyeom. This clan associated with a mountain in North Korea called "Pyeongsan" (平山, literally "mountain of peace"). The mountain was originally named Samneungsan (三能山, literally "mountain of three talents"), without a family name, before being linked to the Shin surname by King Taejo of Goryeo.
According to the Pyeongsan Shin family legend, one day when King Taejo and his generals went out hunting near Pyeongsan, Taejo saw three geese flying above them, and asked his generals whether any of them could shoot the geese down. Shin Sung-gyeom volunteered and asked Taejo which one he should shoot. Taejo asked Shin to shoot the third goose in its left wing, and to Taejo's surprise, Shin completed the task. Taejo was highly impressed and gave Shin 300 gyeol (결 or 結, an ancient measurement of area) of local land, which became Shin Sung-gyeom's hometown.
Shin Sung-gyeom also saved the life of King Taejo of Goryeo during a disastrous battle with Hubaekje near present-day Daegu in the early 10th century. Taejo awarded General Shin the clan name Pyeongsan Sin, after his hometown, for his loyalty and bravery he showed in the battle. Other prominent members of this clan include the 16th-century artist, writer, and poet Shin Saimdang and the 19th-century pansori writer Shin Jae-hyo.
Every year, a number of people who claim to belong to the Pyeongsan Shin clan gather at the memorial shrine of Shin Sung-gyeom in the South Korean province of Gangwon Province. Prior to the Korean war, the original shrine was situated in the now North-Korean province of Hwanghae Province, to which the clan land of Pyeongsan traces its roots.
Another well-known line that also uses the Chinese character 申 is the Goryeong Shin, descended from Shin Suk-ju, who was the lead scholar to work with King Sejong the Great in the development of Hangul, the Korean written language. Shin Suk-ju was also a high ranking government minister and belonged to the Hall of Worthies. The Goryeong Shin lineage makes up about 17% of all those who carry the Shin name using the Chinese character 申. Three of five members of Shin Suk-ju's 16th generation are known to have immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. One descendant of the Shins to travel to the US is a famous and scholarly physician named David Sheen. Another prominent member of the clan is Danjae Shin Chaeho, a 19th-century nationalist historian.
List of Shins
- Sin Sung-gyeom (died 927), general of the Later Three Kingdoms period.
- Sin Don (辛, died 1371), Buddhist monk and regent of the reign of King Gongmin of Goryeo.
- Sin Suk-ju (1417-1475) , scholar and government minister
- Sin Saimdang (1504–1551), painter, calligrapher, Yi Yulgok's mother
- Shin Gwang-su (poet) (1712–1775), poet
- Sin Yun-bok (1758–?), painter also known as "Hyewon"
- Sin Chaeho (1880–1936), Korean independence activist, historian, nationalist and the founder of the nationalist historiography of Korea
- Shin Sung-mo (1891–1960), politician
- Shin Hyun-joon (1915–2007), military officer and diplomat
- Shin Ik-hee, politician (1st and 2nd National Assembly Chairman of Republic of Korea, opposition party leader, presidential candidate)
- Shin Kyuk-Ho (辛, 1922–2020), CEO and founder of Lotte Corporation
- Paull Shin (1935–2021), South Korean-American politician and member of the Washington State Senate
- Shin Jae Chul (born 1936), martial artist
- Shin Jung-hyeon (born 1938), rock guitarist and singer-songwriter
- Nelson Shin (born 1939), founder and president of Akom Production Co., Ltd
- Shin Suk-ja (申, born 1942), is a South Korean political prisoner held in a North Korean political prison camp
- Sin Son Ho (辛, born 1948), North Korean diplomat and Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
- Oleksandr Sin (born 1961), Ukrainian politician and former mayor of Zaporizhia
- Shin Youngok (born 1961) South Korean classical soprano singer
- Shin Joon-Sup (1963), South Korean middleweight amateur boxer and Olympic Gold Medalist
- Shin Daechul (born 1967), South Korean rock/heavy metal guitarist and leader of Sinawe
- Shin Hae Chul (1968-2014), singer
- Shin Hong-Gi (born 1968), South Korean former football player
- Shin Hyun-joon (born 1968), South Korean actor
- Shin Seung Hun (born 1968), South Korean ballad singer
- Shin Ae-ra (born 1969), actress
- Shin Tae-Yong (born 1970), South Korean attacking midfield footballer
- Shin Dong-yup (born 1971), South Korean comedian and host
- Shin Jeong-ah (born 1972), survivor of the Sampoong Department Store collapse who later lied about her academic credentials
- Nelly Shin (born 1972), first Korean-Canadian Member of Parliament
- Shin Ha-kyun (born 1974), South Korean actor
- Shin Jung-hwan (辛, born 1975), Korean singer and entertainer
- Shin Myung-Chul (born 1978), second baseman in Korean baseball
- Shin Hye Sung (born 1979), member of the group Shinhwa
- Outsider (born Shin Ok-Cheol, 1983), singer
- Shin Hwa-Yong (born 1983), South Korean football player
- Shin KwangHo (born 1983), South Korean artist
- Shin Min Ah (born 1984), South Korean actress and model.
- Shindong (born Shin Donghee, 1985), singer, dancer, member of Super Junior
- Shin Hyung-Min (born 1986), South Korea football player
- Shin Kwang-Hoon (born 1987), South Korean football defender
- Shin Young-Rok (辛, born 1987), South Korean football player
- Jiyai Shin (born 1988), professional golfer
- Shin Baek-cheol (born 1989), South Korean badminton player
- Sin Joon-sik (born 1980), South Korean taekwondoist and Olympic silver medalist
- Shin Soo Hyun (born 1989), South Korean singer, leader and member of South Korean boy band U-KISS
- Shin Se-kyung (born 1990), South Korean actress
- Shin Dongho (born 1994), South Korean singer, ex-member of South Korean boy band U-KISS
- Shin Ji-soo (born 1994), South Korean singer and actress, ex-member of South Korean girlgroup D.Heaven
- Shin Kuhn (辛), past director general of National Intelligence Service (South Korea)
- Peter Shin, Director of animation films, most notably "Family Guy"
- Shin Hye-jung (born 1993), singer and actress, member of South Korean girl group AOA
- Shin Jimin (born 1991), former singer and rapper, former member of South Korean girl group AOA
- Shin Dongwoo, South Korean singer, member of South Korean boy group B1A4 (better known as CNU)
- Shin Dong-hyuk (申, born 1982), is a North Korean refugee and human rights activist living in South Korea
- Shin Hyun-soo (born 1989), South Korean actor
- Shin Won-ho (born 1991), is a South Korean actor and member of South Korean multinational boy band Cross Gene
- Peniel Shin (born 1993), South Korean singer, rapper, member of South Korean boy band BtoB
- Jeena Shin (born 1973), South Korea-New Zealand artist
- Shin Su-ran (born 1986), South Korean singer
- The Quiett (born Shin Dong-gab), South Korean Rapper, composer, lyricist and record producer (Co-founder of independent hip-hop label Illionaire Records)
- Shin Ye-eun (born 1998), South Korean actress
- Shin Hye-sun (born 1989), South Korean actress
- Shin Hyun-been (born 1986), South Korean actress
- Shin Eun-soo (born 2002), South Korean actress
- Shin Jin-seo (born 2000), a professional South Korean Go player
- Stephen Shin, a character of DC Comic series Aquaman
- Shin Ji-hyun, main character of 2011 South Korean drama 49 Days
- Shin Suk-ki, the main protagonist of 2004 South Korean movie Shinsukki Blues
- Shin Ji-hoon, one of main characters of 2012 South Korean television series I Need Romance 2012
- Shin Joo-yeon, female lead of 2014 South Korean series I Need Romance 3
- Shin Ji-min, real name of Song Yi-kyung, a main character from 2011 South Korean drama 49 Days
- Shin Chae-kyung, female lead of 2017 South Korean drama Queen for Seven Days
- Shin Se-gi, split personality of Cha Do-hyun, a DID patient and main character of 2015 South Korean television series Kill Me, Heal Me
- Shin Ha-kyung, female lead of 2014 South Korean series Punch
- Shin Suk-ho, main lead of 2016 South Korean series Entertainer
- Shin Woo Yeo, main lead of 2021 South Korean series My Roommate Is a Gumiho
- Shin Young-joo, female lead of 2017 South Korean drama Whisper
- Shin Sang, male character of 2021 South Korean series Mouse
- Shin Ah-ri, one of the female leads of 2021 South Korean series No Matter What