Korean people

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Total population
79 million (est.)
Regions with significant populations
Flag of South Korea South KoreaTemplate:Nbsp49,422,644 (2005 est.)
Flag of North Korea North KoreaTemplate:Nbsp22,912,177 (2005 est.)
Other significant population centers:
Flag of the United States United States 2,057,546
Flag of People's Republic of China China 2,043,578
Flag of Japan Japan 660,214
Flag of Russia Russia 486,857
Flag of Brazil Brazil 130,000-250,000
Flag of Australia Australia 150,000
Flag of Canada Canada 110,000
Flag of the Philippines Philippines 50,000
Flag of Guatemala Guatemala 49,000
Flag of Argentina Argentina 35,000
Flag of Germany Germany 34,000
Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom 31,000
Flag of Vietnam Vietnam 29,000
Korean speakers: 72 million
Nonreligious, Christian, Buddhist, Shamanism(indigenous), Confucian,Taoist, other
Related ethnic groups
Possibly: other Altaic peoples

The Korean people are one of the main East Asian ethnic groups. Most Koreans live in the Korean Peninsula and speak the Korean language. Korea's population is highly homogeneous both ethnically and linguistically, with only small minorities, such as Chinese and Japanese, present in North and South Korea.



South Koreans call Koreans Hangukin (or simply 한인/Hanin) (한국인; 韓國人) or Hanguk saram (한국 사람; 韓國 사람), while North Koreans call Koreans Chosŏn-in (조선인; 朝鮮人) or Chosŏn saram (조선 사람; 朝鮮 사람). See Names of Korea, Korean romanization, Hangul and Hanja.


See also: History of Korea

 }}</ref><ref>Korean people(한민족) (Korean). Naver Encyclopedia. Retrieved on 2007-03-09.</ref> or proto-Altaic<ref>Korean people(한민족) (Korean). Encyclopedia Britannica Korea. Retrieved on 2007-03-09.</ref> speaking tribes, linking them with Mongolians, Tungusics, Turkics, and other Central Asians. Archaeological evidence suggest proto-Koreans were Altaic language speaking migrants from south-central Siberia<ref>The Rise of Civilization in East Asia: the Archaeology of China, Korea and Japan, pp. 165</ref>, who populated ancient Korea in successive waves from neolithic age to bronze age<ref>뿌리 깊은 한국사, 샘이 깊은 이야기: 고조선, 삼국, pp. 44-45</ref>.

Recent advances in the study of polymorphisms in the human Y-chromosome have produced evidence to suggest that the Korean people have a very long history as a distinct, mostly endogamous ethnic group, as male Koreans display a high frequency of Y-chromosomes belonging to Haplogroup O2b1 that are more or less specific to Korean populations. At least several thousand years before present, a few of these proto-Korean Haplogroup O2b1 patrilines appear to have crossed from Korea into the Japanese Archipelago, where they now comprise a very significant fraction of the male lineages extant among the Japanese and Ryukyuan populations. <ref>These apparently proto-Korean descendants in Japan, however, seem to have experienced extensive genetic admixture with the long-established Jomon Period populations of the Japanese Archipelago, which has resulted in modern Japanese populations' displaying a somewhat different genetic profile from the Koreans on the continent.</ref>

Though they have interbred to some extent with other East Asian ethnic groups over the ages, Koreans have retained much of the physicalities of their Northern Mongoloid migration group, including tall stature, long bridged noses, higher cheekbones, and the Mongolian spot, a genetic predisposition for a bluish birthmark on the lower body which remains until early childhood.


Although a variety of different Asian peoples had migrated to the Korean Peninsula in past centuries, very few have remained permanently, so by even now both South Korea and North Korea have been among the world's most ethnically homogeneous nations. The number of indigenous minorities was negligible. In South Korea, people of foreign origin, including Westerners, Chinese, and Japanese, were a small percentage of the population whose residence was generally temporary.

Koreans tend to equate nationality or citizenship with membership in a single, homogeneous ethnic group or "race" (minjok, in Korean). A common language and culture also are viewed as important elements in Korean identity. The idea of multiracial or multiethnic nations, like India or the United States, strikes many Koreans as odd or even contradictory.

Regional differences

Against the background of ethnic homogeneity, however, significant regional differences exist.

Within South Korea, the most important regional difference is between the Gyeongsang region, embracing Gyeongsangbuk-do and Gyeongsangnam-do provinces in the southeast, and the Jeolla region, embracing Jeollabuk-do and Jeollanam-do provinces in the southwest. The two regions, separated by the Jiri Massif, nurture a rivalry said to reach back to the Three Kingdoms Period, which lasted from the fourth century to the seventh century A.D., when the kingdoms of Baekje and Silla struggled for control of the peninsula.

Observers noted that interregional marriages are rare, and that as of 1990 a new fourlane highway completed in 1984 between Gwangju and Daegu, the capitals of Jeollanam-do and Gyeongsangbuk-do, completed in 1984, had not been successful in promoting travel between the two areas.

South Korea's political elite, including presidents Park Chung-hee, Chun Doo-hwan, and Roh Tae-woo, have come largely from the Gyeongsang region. As a result, Gyeongsang has been a special beneficiary of government development assistance.

By contrast, the Jeolla region has remained comparatively rural, undeveloped, and poor. Chronically disaffected, its people rightly or wrongly have a reputation for rebelliousness. Regional bitterness was intensified by the May 1980 Gwangju massacre, in which about 200 and perhaps many more inhabitants of the capital of Jeollanam-do were killed by Chun Doo-hwan's troops sent to quell the citizens and student's demonstration against military coup regime. The demonstration against military regime were occurred all over the country, but only Gwangju was chosen and heavily damaged. Many of the troops reportedly were from the Gyeongsang region.

Regional stereotypes, like regional dialects, have been breaking down under the influence of centralized education, nationwide media, and the several decades of population movement since the Korean War. Stereotypes remain important, however, in the eyes of many South Koreans. For example, the people of Gyeonggi-do, surrounding Seoul, are often described as being cultured, and Chungcheong people, inhabiting the region embracing Chungcheongbuk-do and Chungcheongnam-do provinces, are thought to be mild-mannered, manifesting true yangban virtues. The people of Gangwon-do in the northeast were viewed as poor and stolid, while Koreans from the northern provinces of P'yongang, Hwanghae, and Hamgyong, now in North Korea, are perceived as being diligent and aggressive. Jeju-do is infamous for its strong-minded and independent women.


North Korea and South Korea share a common heritage, but the political division since 1945 has resulted in some divergence of modern culture.


Main articles: Korean language and Hangul

The language of the Korean people is the Korean language, which uses hangul as its main writing system. There are around 73 million speakers of the Korean language worldwide.

North Korea data

Estimating the size, growth rate, sex ratio, and age structure of North Korea's population has been extremely difficult. Until release of official data in 1989, the 1963 edition of the North Korea Central Yearbook was the last official publication to disclose population figures. After 1963 demographers used varying methods to estimate the population. They either totaled the number of delegates elected to the Supreme People's Assembly (each delegate representing 50,000 people before 1962 and 30,000 people afterward) or relied on official statements that a certain number of persons, or percentage of the population, was engaged in a particular activity. Thus, on the basis of remarks made by President Kim Il Sung in 1977 concerning school attendance, the population that year was calculated at 17.2 million persons. During the 1980s, health statistics, including life expectancy and causes of mortality, were gradually made available to the outside world.

In 1989 the Central Statistics Bureau released demographic data to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) in order to secure the UNFPA's assistance in holding North Korea's first nationwide census since the establishment of the state in 1948. Although the figures given to the United Nations might have been distorted, it appears that in line with other attempts to open itself to the outside world, the North Korean regime has also opened somewhat in the demographic realm. Although the country lacks trained demographers, accurate data on household registration, migration, and births and deaths are available to North Korean authorities. According to the United States scholar Nicholas Eberstadt and demographer Judith Banister, vital statistics and personal information on residents are kept by agencies on the ri, or ni (village, the local administrative unit) level in rural areas and the dong (district or block) level in urban areas.

Koreans outside of Korea

Main article: Gyopo

Large-scale emigration from Korea began as early as the mid-1860s, mainly into the Russian Far East and Northeast China; these emigrants became the ancestors of the 2 million ethnic Koreans in China and several hundred thousand ethnic Koreans in Central Asia. During the Japanese colonial period of 1910-1945, Koreans were often recruited and or forced into labour service to work in mainland Japan, Karafuto Prefecture, and Manchukuo; the ones who chose to remain in Japan at the end of the war became known as Zainichi Koreans, while the roughly 40 thousand who were trapped in Karafuto after the Soviet invasion are typically referred to as Sakhalin Koreans. Korean emigration to America was known to have begun as early as 1903, but the Korean American community did not grow to a significant size until after the passage of the Immigration Reform Act of 1965; now, roughly 2 million Koreans live in the United States.

Large Koreatowns can also be found in Australia, Brazil, and Canada. The largest Korean community outside of Korea is in Los Angeles, California. The largest Korean community in Europe is in Germany, but the largest European Koreatown is in London. There are also Koreatowns in Latin American countries such as Argentina, Guatemala, and Mexico. In recent years, the number of Koreans in the Philippines has also grown significantly.


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  • Template:Loc
  • 서의식 and 강봉룡. 뿌리 깊은 한국사, 샘이 깊은 이야기: 고조선, 삼국, ISBN 89-8133-536-2
  • Barnes, Gina. The Rise of Civilization in East Asia: the Archaeology of China, Korea and Japan, ISBN 05-0027-974-8

See also

External links

Original Source