한국인 (韓國人) or 조선인 (朝鮮人)
Total population
c. 83 million[1]
Regions with significant populations

 South Korea      50,423,955 (2014 estimate)[2]
 North Korea      25,300,000 (2014 estimate)[3]

Diaspora as of 2015
c. 7–7.42 million[4]
 China 2,585,993[4]
 United States 2,238,989[4]
 Japan 855,725[4]
 Canada 224,054[4]
 Uzbekistan 186,186[4]
 Russia 166,956[4]
 Australia 153,653[4]
 Vietnam 108,850[4]
 Kazakhstan 107,613[4]
 Philippines 89,037[4]
 Brazil 50,418[4]
 Indonesia 40,741[4]
 United Kingdom 40,263[4]
 Germany 39,047[4]
 New Zealand 30,174[4]
 Arab League 24,000[4][5]
 Argentina 22,730[4]
 Thailand 19,700[4]
 Singapore 19,450[4]
 Kyrgyzstan 18,709[4]
 France 15,000[4]
 Ukraine 13,103[4]
 Malaysia 12,690[4]
 Mexico 11,800[4]
 India 10,178[4]
 Cambodia 8,445[4]
 Sweden 8,000[4]
 Saudi Arabia 5,189[4]
 Guatemala 5,162[4]
 Paraguay 5,090[4]
 Poland 4,956[4]
 Taiwan 4,828[4]
Primarily Christianity, Korean Buddhism, Korean shamanism, and Cheondoism[7][8]
Part of a series on
Korean people

Koreans (Hangul: 한민족; Hanja: 韓民族; RR: Hanminjok in South Korean; alternatively Chosŏn'gŭl: 조선민족; Hancha: 朝鮮民族; RR: Joseonminjok in North Korean, lit."Korean race"; see names of Korea) are an East Asian ethnic group originating from and native to Korea and southern Manchuria.[9][10][11][12][13]

Koreans mainly live in the two Korean nation states, South Korea and North Korea (collectively referred to simply as Korea), but are also an officially recognized ethnic minority in China, Vietnam, Japan and Philippines, plus a number of former Soviet states, such as Russia and Uzbekistan. Over the course of the 20th century, significant Korean communities have emerged in Australia, Canada, United States and, to a lesser extent, other nations with a primarily immigrant background.

As of 2013, there were an estimated 7.4 million ethnic Korean expatriates worldwide.[4]


South Koreans refer to themselves as Hanguk-in (Hangul: 한국인; Hanja: 韓國人), or Hanguk-saram (Hangul: 한국 사람), both of which mean "Korean nation people." When referring to members of the Korean diaspora, Koreans often use the term Han-in (Hangul: 한인; Hanja: 韓人; literally "Korean people").

North Koreans refer to themselves as Joseon-in (Hangul: 조선인; Hanja: 朝鮮人) or Joseon-saram (Hangul: 조선 사람), both of which literally mean "Joseon people". The term is derived from the Joseon dynasty, a Korean kingdom founded by Yi Seonggye that lasted for approximately five centuries from 1392 to 1897. Using similar words, Koreans in China refer to themselves as Chaoxianzu (Chinese: 朝鲜族) in Chinese or Joseonjok (Hangul: 조선족) in Korean, which are cognates that literally mean "Joseon ethnic group".[14][15]

In the chorus of Aegukga, the national anthem of South Korea, the Koreans are referred to as Daehan-saram (Hangul: 대한사람).

Ethnic Koreans living in Russia and Central Asia refer to themselves as Koryo-saram (Hangul: 고려 사람; Cyrillic script: Корё сарам), alluding to Goryeo, a Korean dynasty spanning from 918 to 1392.


Linguistic and archaeological studies

Koreans are the descendants or an admixture of the ancient people who settled in the Korean Peninsula, historically said to be Siberian[16][17] or paleo-Asian.[18] Archaeological evidence suggests that proto-Koreans were migrants from Manchuria during the Bronze Age.[19] It is noteworthy to mention that there were already people[20] living on the Korean peninsula from the Paleolithic age and Neolithic age, and thus it is logical to assume that there was intermingling between these populations.

Linguistic evidence indicates speakers of proto-Korean languages were established in southeastern Manchuria and northern Korean peninsula by the Three Kingdoms of Korea period, and migrated from there to southern Korea during this period.[21]

The largest concentration of dolmens in the world is found on the Korean Peninsula. In fact, with an estimated 35,000-100,000 dolmen,[22] Korea accounts for nearly 70% of the world's total. Similar dolmens can be found in Manchuria, the Shandong Peninsula and the Kyushu island, yet it is unclear why this culture only flourished so extensively on the Korean Peninsula and its surroundings compared to the bigger remainder of Northeastern Asia.


Stephen Pheasant (1986), who taught anatomy, biomechanics and ergonomics at the Royal Free Hospital and the University College, London, said that Far Eastern people have proportionately shorter lower limbs than Europeans and Black Africans. Pheasant said that the proportionately short lower limbs of Far Eastern people is a difference that is most characterized in Japanese people, less characterized in Korean and Chinese people, and the least characterized in Vietnamese and Thai people.[23][24]


In a craniometric study, Pietrusewsky (1994) found that the Japanese series, which was a series that spanned from the Yayoi period to modern times, formed a single branch with Korea.[25] Later, Pietrusewsky (1999) found, however, that Korean and Yayoi people were very highly separated in the East Asian cluster, indicating that the connection that Japanese have with Korea would not have derived from Yayoi people.[25]

Park Dae-kyoon et al. (2001) said that distance analysis based on thirty-nine non-metric cranial traits showed that Koreans are closer craniometrically to Kazakhs and Mongols than Koreans are close craniometrically to the populations in China and Japan.[26]


Studies of polymorphisms in the human Y-chromosome have so far produced evidence to suggest that the Korean people have a long history as a distinct, mostly endogamous ethnic group, with successive waves of people moving to the peninsula and three major Y-chromosome haplogroups.[27] The reference population for Koreans used in Geno 2.0 Next Generation is 94% Eastern Asia and 5% Southeast Asia & Oceania.[28]

Among the populations of East Asia, the Italian-born American geneticist Cavalli-Sforza of Stanford University placed Koreans in a cluster of populations including the Japanese, Ryukyuans, Ainus, Tibetans, and Bhutanese, with smallest genetic distance from the Ryukyuans and the Japanese from Hokkaido.[29] In a broader comparison and principal component analysis of populations from every region of Asia, the aforementioned cluster is subsumed in a Northeast and East Asian cluster that also includes the Mongol samples and, at somewhat greater distance, the North Chinese, Northern Tungus, Samoyeds, and Luoravetlans.[30][29][31][32]

Jin Han-jun et al. (1999) said that, based on genetic studies of classic genetic markers of protein and nuclear DNA, Koreans tend to be closely genetically related to Mongols among East Asians, which is supported by the following studies: Goedde et al. (1987); Saha & Tay (1992); Hong et al. (1993); and Nei & Roychoudhury (1993). The study said that the mtDNA 9‐bp deletion frequency in the intergenic COII/tRNALys region of Mongols (5.1%) is lower than that of Chinese (14.2%), Japanese (14.3%) and Koreans (15.5%). The study said that these 9‐bp deletion frequencies suggest that Koreans are closely related to Japanese and Chinese and that Koreans are not so closely related to Mongols. The study said that the homogeneity in the 9-bp deletion frequencies among Chinese (14.2%), Japanese (14.3%) and Koreans (15.5%), only spanning from a low of 14.2% for Chinese to a high of 15.5% for Koreans, indicates that very few mtDNA are differentiated in these three populations. The study said that the 9‐bp deletion frequencies for Vietnamese (23.2%) and Indonesians (25.0%), which are the two populations constituting Mongoloid Southeast Asians in the study, are relatively high frequencies when compared to the 9-bp deletion frequencies for Mongols(5.1%), Chinese (14.2%), Japanese (14.3%) and Koreans (15.5%), which are the four populations constituting Northeast Asians in the study. The study said that these 9-bp deletion frequencies are consistent with earlier surveys which showed that 9-bp deletion frequencies increase going from Japan to mainland Asia to the Malay Peninsula, which is supported by the following studies: Horai et al. (1987); Hertzberg et al. (1989); Stoneking & Wilson (1989); Horai (1991); Ballinger et al. (1992); Hanihara et al. (1992); and Chen et al. (1995). The study said that Cavalli-Sforza's chord genetic distance (4D), from Cavalli-Sforza & Bodmer (1971), which is based on the allele frequencies of the intergenic COII/tRNALys region, showed that Koreans are more genetically related to Japanese than Koreans are genetically related to the other East Asian populations which were surveyed. The Cavalli-Sforza's chord genetic distance (4D) between Koreans and other East Asian populations in the study, from least to greatest, are as follows: Korean to Japanese (0.0019), Korean to Chinese (0.0141), Korean to Vietnamese (0.0265), Korean to Indonesian (0.0316) and Korean to Mongols (0.0403). The study said that the close genetic affinity between present-day Koreans and Japanese is expected due to the Yayoi migration from China and the Korean Peninsula to Japan which began about 2,300 years ago, a migration which is supported by the following studies: Chard (1974); Hanihara (1991); Hammer & Horai (1995); Horai et al. (1996); Omoto & Saitou (1997). The study said that Horai et al. (1996) detected mtDNA D-loop variation which supports the idea that a large amount of maternal lineages came into Japan from immigrants from the Korean Peninsula after the Yayoi period.[33]

Wook et al. (2000) said that Chu et al. (1998) found that phylogeny which was based on 30 microsatellites indicated that Korean people were closely related to Chinese people from Manchuria and Yunnan, but Kim Wook et al. (2000) found that the high incidence of the DXYS156Y-null variant in northeast Chinese implied that it is possible to exclude these northeastern Chinese populations from being sources which are significant in Korean people. The phylogenetic analysis done by Wook et al. (2000) indicated that Japanese people are genetically closer to Korean people than Japanese people are genetically related to any of the following peoples: Mongolians, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesians, Filipinos and Thais. The study said that mainland Japanese having Koreans as their closest genetic population is consistent with the following previous studies: Hammer and Horai (1995); Horai et al. (1996); and Kim et al. (1998). The study found that Koreans are more genetically homogenous than the Japanese, and the study said that this might be due to different sizes of the founding populations and range expansions. The study said that the moderate mean Y-chromosome haplotype diversity value for Koreans might be the result of migrations from East Asia that had a homogenizing influence. The study said that it is more probable that Koreans descend from dual infusions of Y-chromosomes from two different waves of East Asians rather than a single East Asian population due to the dual patterns of the Y-chromosome haplotype distribution found in Koreans.[34]

Jin Han-jun et al. (2003) said that the distribution of Y-chromosomal haplogroups shows that Koreans have a complex origin that results from genetic contributions from range expansions, most of which are from southern-to-northern China, and genetic contributions from the northern Asian settlement.[35]

Kim Jong-jin et al. (2005) did a study about the genetic relationships among East Asians based on allele frequencies, particularly focusing on how close Chinese, Japanese and Koreans are genetically related to each other. Most Koreans were hard to distinguish from Japanese, and the study was not able to clearly distinguish Koreans and Japanese. Koreans and Japanese clustered together in the principal component analysis and the best least-squares tree. The study said that "[c]ommon ancestry and/or extensive gene flow" historically between Koreans and Japanese appears to be "likely" and results in a lot of difficulty finding population-specific alleles that could assist in differentiating Koreans and Japanese.[36]

Hideo Matsumoto, professor emeritus at Osaka Medical College, tested Gm types, genetic markers of immunoglobulin G, of Korean populations for a 2009 study. The Korean populations were populations in Jeju Island, Busan, Gwangju, Kongsan, Jeonju, Wonju, the Kannung of South Korea and a Korean population in Yanji. Matsumoto said that the Gm ab3st gene is a marker for northern Mongoloid possibly originating in Siberia and found at high frequencies across northeast Asia and Tibet. Matsumoto said that the average frequency of Gm ab3st for Koreans was 14.5% which was intermediate between an average frequency of 26% for general Japanese and a frequency of 11.7% which was for a Han Chinese population in Beijing. Matsumoto said that Gm afb1b3 is a southern marker gene possibly originating in southern China and found at high frequencies across Southeast Asia, southern China, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Assam and parts of the Pacific. Matsumoto said that the average frequency of Gm afb1b3 for Koreans was 14.7% which was intermediate between a frequency of 10.6% for general Japanese and a frequency of 24.1% for Beijing Han Chinese. Matsumoto said that Koreans displayed the northern Mongoloid pattern, but Matsumoto said that Koreans displayed a higher frequency of the southern marker gene, Gm afb1b3, than the Japanese. Matsumoto said that "Japanese and Korean populations were originally identical or extremely close to each other", and Matsumoto said, "It seemed to be during the formation of the contemporary Korean population that such a Gm pattern intermediate between Japanese and the northern Han in China emerged." Matsumoto said that the different Gm pattern between Japanese and Koreans most likely came about from frequent inflows of Chinese and/or northern populations into the Korean Peninsula.[37]

He Miao et al. (2009) created an artificial combination of equal parts of the Y-chromsomes of the HapMap samples of Han Chinese in Beijing and Japanese in Tokyo. The study said that this artificial combination resembled five populations which included Koreans in South Korea and Koreans in China.[38]

Jung Jongsun et al. (2010) used the following Korean samples for a study: Southeast Korean (sample regions: Gyeongju, Goryeong and Ulsan), Middle West Korean (sample regions: Jecheon, Yeoncheon, Cheonan and Pyeongchang) and Southwest Korean (sample regions: Gimje, Naju and Jeju). Due to political reasons, the study said that it did not use North Korean samples, but the study said that the "historical migration event of BaekJae from Goguryeo Empire (BC37-AD568) in Northern Korea imply that Northern lineages remain in South Korea." The study said that the "Northern people of the Goguryeo Empire" are closely related to Mongolians, and the study said that this group of people ruled most of Southwest Korea. The study said that "some of the royal families and their subjects in the Goguryeo Empire moved to this region and formed the BaekJae Empire in BC18-22." Southwest Koreans are closer to Mongolians in the study's genome map than the other two Korean regions in the study are close to Mongolians. Southwest Koreans also display genetic connections with the HapMap sample of Japanese in Tokyo, and, in the neighbor joining tree, the nodes for Southwest Korea are close to Japan. In the study's Korea-China-Japan genome map, some Southwest Korean samples overlap with samples from Japan. The study said that the fairly close relationship, in both the study's genetic structure analysis and genome map, of the Jeju Southwest Korean sample and the HapMap sample of Japanese in Tokyo, Japan, has made the evolutionary relationship of Chinese, Japanese and Koreans become clearer. Southeast Koreans display some genetic similarity with people of Kobe, Japan, which indicates that there might have been links between these regions. The study said that it is possible that outliers in the Gyeongju sample, one of the sampled Southeast Korean regions, and outliers in the Kobe, Japan, sample both have Siberian lineage due to Southeast Koreans having connections with Siberian lineages with respect to grave patterns and culture. The overall result for the study's Korea-Japan-China genome map indicates that some signals for Siberia remain in Southeast Korea. In contrast to the Gyeongju sample, the Goryeong and Ulsan samples, which are both Southeast Korean samples, displayed average signals for the Korean Peninsula. The study said that Middle West Korea was a melting pot in the Korean Peninsula with people traveling from North to South, South to North, and people traveling from East China, including from the Shandong Peninsula. Western Chinese, which included those in the Shandong Peninsula, travelled across the Yellow Sea, and these Western Chinese lived and traded in both China and Korea. In the study's genome map, Middle West Koreans are close to the HapMap sample of Han Chinese in Beijing and, in the neighbor joining tree, the nodes for Middle West Korea are close to China. The overall result for the study's Korea-Japan-China genome map indicates that Middle West Korea displays an average signal for South Korea. Chinese people are located between Korean and Vietnamese people in the study's genome map.[39][40]

Kim Young-jin and Jin Han-jun (2013) said that principal component analysis had Korean HapMap samples clustering with neighboring East Asian populations which were geographically nearby them such as the Chinese and Japanese. The study said that Koreans are genetically closely related to Japanese in comparison to Koreans' genetic relatedness to other East Asians which included the following East and Southeast Asian peoples: Tujia, Miao, Daur, She, Mongols, Naxi, Cambodians, Oroqen, Yakuts, Yi, Southern Han Chinese, Northern Han Chinese, Hezhen, Xibo, Lahu, Dai and Tu. The study said that the close genetic relatedness of Koreans to Japanese has been reported in the following previous studies: Kivisild et al. (2002); Jin et al. (2003); Jin et al. (2009); and Underhill and Kivisild (2007). The study said that Jung et al. (2010) said that there is a genetic substructure in Koreans, but the study said that it found Korean HapMap individuals to be highly genetically similar. The study said that Jin et al. (2009) found that Koreans from different populations are not different in a significant way which indicates that Koreans are genetically homogenous. The study said that the affinity of Koreans is predominately Southeast Asian with an estimated admixture of 79% Southeast Asian and 21% Northeast Asian for Koreans, but the study said that this does not mean that Koreans are heterogenous, because all of the Koreans which were analyzed uniformly displayed a dual pattern of Northeast Asian and Southeast Asian origins. The study said that Koreans and Japanese displayed no observable difference between each other in their proportion of Southeast Asian and Northeast Asian admixture. The study said the 79% Southeast Asian and 21% Northeast Asian admixture estimate for Koreans is consistent with the interpretation of Jin et al. (2009) that Koreans descend from a Northeast Asian population which was subsequently followed by a male-centric migration from the southern region of Asia which changed both the autosomal composition and Y-chromosomes in the Korean population.

Bhak Jong-hwa who is a professor in the biomedical engineering department at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) Genome Research Foundation led an international genome research team which involved researchers from Germany, the United Kingdom and Russia, and this team announced information about the genetic structure of modern Koreans.[41][42] The research team took DNA from human skulls from a cave in the Russian Far East called Devil's Gate Cave.[42] The research found that the people in Devil's Gate Cave were the ancestors of the Ulchi people, and the research team said that the Ulchi people have a genetic structure which is the closest to modern Koreans.[42][43] The research team found that what they got by combining the genomes from the cave with the genomes from native Vietnamese and Taiwanese was close to modern Korean DNA.[44] Bhak said that Koreans were formed from a pre-existing Northern Mongoloid group, a Southern Mongoloid group that went north and an additional Southern Mongoloid group.[41] The research team said, "Even though Koreans have traces of combinations from both sides, the actual genetic structure of modern Koreans is much closer to that of southern Asians."[42] Bhak also said that Koreans were formed from the admixture of hunter-gatherers on the peninsula and agricultural Southern Mongoloids from Vietnam who went through China.[41] Bhak said, "We believe the number of ancient dwellers who migrated north from Vietnam far exceeds the number of those occupying the peninsula."[45] Bhak said, "Thousands of years ago East Asian hunter gatherers expanded over all of Asia, as far as Russia in the north, and formed the northern race. And about ten thousand years ago the southern Han Chinese developed a full-scale agrarian society and rapidly expanded. However, in contrast to western Eurasians, the southern people did not supplant the northern people, but rather the two groups intermingled."[46] Bhak also said, "The southern people expanded much more than the northern people, so the hereditary traits of modern people show a much stronger influence from the southern people."[46]

Veronika Siska et al. (2017) said that the Ulchi people are genetically closest in the study's panel to the human remains from the Devil's Gate Cave which are dated to about 7,700 years ago. Modern Korean and Japanese, the Oroqen people and the Hezhen people display a high affinity to the human remains from Devil's Gate Cave. Considering the geographic distance of Amerindians from Devil's Gate Cave, Amerindians are unusually genetically close to the human remains from Devil's Gate Cave. Korean genomes display similar traits to Japanese genomes on genome-wide SNP data. Korean genomes have displayed both southern and northern Asian mtDNA and Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups.[47]

Paternal lineage

Korean males display a high frequency of Haplogroup O-M176 (O1b2, formerly O2b), a subclade that probably has spread mainly from somewhere in the Korean Peninsula or its vicinity,[48][49] and Haplogroup O-M122 (O2, formerly O3), a common Y-DNA haplogroup among East and Southeast Asians in general.[50][31] Haplogroup O1b2-M176 has been found in approximately 30% (ranging from 20%[51][52] to 37%[53]) of sampled Korean males, while haplogroup O2-M122 has been found in approximately 40% of sampled Korean males.[52][54][55] Korean males also exhibit a moderate frequency (approximately 15%) of Haplogroup C-M217.

About 2% of Korean males belong to Haplogroup D-M174 (0/216 = 0.0% DE-YAP,[55] 3/300 = 1.0% DE-M145,[56] 1/68 = 1.5% DE-YAP(xE-SRY4064),[52] 8/506 = 1.6% D1b-M55,[48] 3/154 = 1.9% DE, 18/706 = 2.55% D-M174,[57] 5/164 = 3.0% D-M174,[58] 1/75 D1b*-P37.1(xD1b1-M116.1) + 2/75 D1b1a-M125(xD1b1a1-P42) = 3/75 = 4.0% D1b-P37.1,[53] 3/45 = 6.7% D-M174[59]). The D1b-M55 subclade has been found with maximal frequency in a small sample (n=16) of the Ainu people of Japan, and is generally frequent throughout the Japanese Archipelago.[60] Other haplogroups that have been found less commonly in samples of Korean males are Y-DNA haplogroup N-M231 (approx. 4%), haplogroup O-M119 (approx. 3%), haplogroup O-M268(xM176) (approx. 2%), haplogroup Q-M242 and Haplogroup R1 (approx. 2% total), J, Y*(xA, C, DE, J, K), L, C-RPS4Y(xM105, M38, M217), and C-M105.[48][52][61]

Korea Foundation Associate Professor of History, Eugene Y. Park, said that there is no correlation between a Korean person's Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup and their surname or ancestral seat.[62][63]

Maternal lineage

Studies of Korean mitochondrial DNA lineages have shown that there is a high frequency of Haplogroup D4, ranging from approximately 23% (11/48) among ethnic Koreans in Arun Banner, Inner Mongolia[64] to approximately 32% (33/103) among Koreans from South Korea.[65][66] Haplogroup D4 is the modal mtDNA haplogroup among Koreans and among East Asians in general. Haplogroup B, which occurs very frequently in many populations of Southeast Asia, Polynesia, and the Americas, is found in approximately 10% (5/48 ethnic Koreans from Arun Banner, Inner Mongolia) to 20% (21/103 Koreans from South Korea) of Koreans.[64][66] Haplogroup A has been detected in approximately 7% (7/103 Koreans from South Korea) to 15% (7/48 ethnic Koreans from Arun Banner, Inner Mongolia) of Koreans.[64][66][65] Haplogroup A is the most common mtDNA haplogroup among the Chukchi, Eskimo, Na-Dene, and many Amerind ethnic groups of North and Central America.

The other half of the Korean mtDNA pool consists of an assortment of various haplogroups, each found with relatively low frequency, such as G, N9, Y, F, D5, M7, M8, M9, M10, M11, R11, C, and Z.

A study of the mtDNA of 708 Koreans sampled from six provinces of South Korea (134 from Seoul-Gyeonggi, 118 from Jeolla, 117 from Chungcheong, 114 from Gangwon, 113 from Jeju, and 112 from Gyeongsang) found that they belonged to haplogroup D (35.5%, including 14.7% D4(xD4a, D4b), 7.8% D4a, 6.5% D5, 6.4% D4b, and 0.14% D(xD4, D5)), haplogroup B (14.8%, including 11.0% B4 and 3.8% B5), haplogroup A (8.3%), haplogroup M7 (7.6%), haplogroup F (7.1%), haplogroup M8'CZ (6.5%), haplogroup G (6.1%), haplogroup N9a (5.2%), haplogroup Y (3.8%), haplogroup M9 (2.7%), haplogroup M10 (1.6%), haplogroup M11 (0.42%), haplogroup N(xN9, Y, A, F, B4, B5) (0.28%), and haplogroup N9(xN9a) (0.14%).[67]


Korea Foundation Associate Professor of History, Eugene Y. Park said that many Koreans seem to have a genealogical memory blackout before the twentieth century.[62][68] Park said that the vast majority Koreans do not know their actual genealogical history. Park said that, through "inventing tradition" in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, families devised a kind of master narrative story that purports to explain a surname-ancestral seat combination's history to the extent where it is next to impossible to look beyond these master narrative stories.[69] Park gave an example of what "inventing tradition" was like from his own family's genealogy where a document from 1873 recorded three children in a particular family and a later 1920 document recorded an extra son in that same family.[70] Park said that these master narratives connect the same surname and ancestral seat to a single, common ancestor. Park said that this trend became universal in the nineteenth century, but genealogies which were published in the seventeenth century actually admit that they did not know how the different lines of the same surname or ancestral seat are related at all.[71] Park said that only a small percentage of Koreans had surnames and ancestral seats to begin with, and Park said that the rest of the Korean population had adopted these surname and ancestral seat identities within the last two to three hundred years.[72]


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


The language of the Korean people is the Korean language, which uses Hangul as its main writing system with some Hanja. There are more than 78 million speakers of the Korean language worldwide.[73]

North Korean 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 totalled the number of delegates elected to the Supreme People's Assembly (each delegate representing 50,000 people before 1962 and 30,000 people afterwards) 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 Bureau of Statistics released demographic data to the United Nations Population Fund 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 Brian Ko, vital statistics and personal information on residents are kept by agencies on the ri ("village", the local administrative unit) level in rural areas and the dong ("district" or "block") level in urban areas.

Korean populations

Large-scale emigration from Korea began as early as the mid-1860s, mainly into the Russian Far East and Northeast China or what was historically known as Manchuria; these populations would later grow to nearly three million Koreans in China and several hundred thousand Koryo-saram (ethnic Koreans in Central Asia and the former USSR).[74][75] During the Korea under Japanese rule 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.[76][77]

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 and Nationality Act of 1965; as of 2010, excluding the undocumented and uncounted, roughly 1.7 million Koreans emigrants and people of Korean descent live in the United States according to the official figure by the US Census.[78]

The Greater Los Angeles Area and New York metropolitan area in the United States contain the largest populations of ethnic Koreans outside of Korea or China. Significant Korean populations are present in China, Japan, and Canada as well. There are also Korean communities in Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. During the 1990s and 2000s, the number of Koreans in the Philippines and Koreans in Vietnam have also grown significantly.[79][80] Koreans in the United Kingdom now form Western Europe's largest Korean community, albeit still relatively small; Koreans in Germany used to outnumber those in the UK until the late 1990s. In Australia, Korean Australians comprise a modest minority. Koreans have migrated significantly since the 1960s. Now they form an integral part in society especially in Business, Education and Cultural areas.

The Korean population in the United States represents a small share of the US economy, but has a disproportionately positive impact. Korean Americans have a savings rate double that of the average American and also graduate from college at a rate double that of the average American, providing a highly skilled and educated addition to the U.S. workforce. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's Census 2000 data, mean household earnings for Koreans in the U.S. were $59,981, approximately 5.1% higher than the U.S. average of $56,604.[81]

Part-Korean populations

Pak Noja said that there were 5747 Japanese-Korean mixed couples in Korea at the end of 1941.[82] Pak Cheil estimated there to be 70,000 to 80,000 "semi-Koreans" in Japan in the years immediately after the war.[83]

See also



  1. Korean Peninsula (50.42 million + 25.3 million) + Korean diaspora (7–7.42 million)
  2. "Population of Republic of Korea". Statistics Korea. 30 March 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  3. "2013 World Population Data Sheet Interactive World Map". www.prb.org. Archived from the original on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
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  63. In a YouTube video which was published on May 18, 2015, from the 9:09 mark of the video to 9:56 mark of the video, Korea Foundation Associate Professor of History, Eugene Y. Park said, "Unlike the Jewish people, Jewish males with the traditionally priestly surnames such as the Levi, Levine, Cohen, and others, who claim that they're descended from Moses's brother, Aaron, and the Y-DNA analysis actually shows that the majority of the Jewish men with the, such surnames, descend from a single male, who lived about a hundred generations ago, around the time of the Exodus. In complete, in stark contrast, Y-DNA analysis shows that there's no correlation between Y-DNA haplotype or haplogroup, and a Korean person's surname or ancestral seat. It's fairly random."
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  68. Eugene Y. Park, from the 7:06 mark of the YouTube video to the 7:38 mark of the YouTube video, said, "Secondly, on the one hand, so many Koreans seem to talk, to be able to tell, one, something about his or her Gyeongju Kim ancestors, of a Silla kingdom two-thousand years ago. And yet, such a person is unlikely to be able to tell you something about his or her great-great-grandparents, what they were doing hundred years ago, what their occupations were, where they were living, where their family graves are. In other words, a memory blackout, before the twentieth century."
  69. Eugene Y. Park, from the 16:54 mark of the YouTube video to the 18:54 mark of the YouTube video, said, "So, from this point on, then, I would like to survey, how the Koreans descended. Koreans, depending on their ancestors' status category, have dealt with genealogy and ancestry consciousness, in the last, differently, in the last two centuries. And, of course, most Koreans are not descendants of aristocrats, but, the, but what happened in the last hundred fifty, hundred to hundred fifty years, is that those Koreans, the vast majority of Koreans have lost memory of their actual history, in the sense where now, any outside observer who might ask a Korean person about ancestry, would be left with the impression that every Korean is now of aristocratic descent. So let me begin with the aristocracy. In the early modern era, the kind of a master narrative, stories that purport to explain a particular surname-ancestral seat combination's history, crystallize, they became set in stone, through inventing tradition. In the seventeenth and eighteenth century, many, all families devise such a stories, to the extent where, now today in Korea, anybody who is interested in tracing his or her ancestry, has to deal with such master narratives, but at the same time it is next to impossible to look beyond master narratives. In other words, in Korea, today, there's little sense of doing the kind of doing the genealogical research that you and I would do in the United States, by looking at Census documents, and other types of documentation, that have been passed down through generations, or, have been maintained by the government."
  70. Eugene Y. Park, from the 28:32 mark of the YouTube video to the 29:21 mark of the YouTube video, said, "This is an example. Here we see records that gives us a better sense of what inventing tradition was like. Here, a page from an eighteen seventy-three Miryang Pak family genealogy. Here's a man, indicated inside the circle named, Ju (). He had three sons: Eun-gyeong, Hyeon-gyeong, Won-gyeong (, , ). But the edition that was published a bit later in the nineteen twenty, so we see the same man, Ju, and, under him, we see sons: Eun-gyeong, Hyeon-gyeong, Won-gyeong and, the extra, the fourth son, out of nowhere, Tōkhwa (). Actually, this is my family. So, this was commonly done in the modern era, the children, son out of nowhere or claims that we were left out centuries ago, and please include us."
  71. Eugene Y. Park, from the 18:55 mark of the YouTube video to the 19:30 mark of the YouTube video, said, "And, these master narratives, genealogically connect all descent lines of a same surname and ancestral seat, to a single, common, ancestor. And, this was the pattern that was, that became universal by the nineteenth century. Whereas, genealogies published in the seventeenth century, actually, frankly admit that we do not know how these different lines of the same surname or ancestral seat are related or connected at all. So, all these changes took place only in the last two hundred years or so."
  72. Eugene Y. Park, from the 46:17 mark of the YouTube video to the 47:02 mark of the YouTube video, said, "At any rate, so, once, so, based on one's surname Kim, let's say, and the ancestral seat, Kimhae, which is the most common ancestral seat among Kim surname Koreans, one can then look up, consult reference books, encyclopedias, go online to, find all these stories about different branches, famous individuals who are Kimhae Kim. But the problem is, of course, before the early modern era, only a small percentage of Koreans had surnames and the ancestral seat to begin with. In other words, the rest of the population had adopted these identities in the last two-three hundred years, so where does one go from there? And, this was definitely my challenge when I was a child."
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Further reading

  • Breen, Michael (2004). The Koreans: Who They Are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-1-4668-6449-8. 
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