Eulji Mun-deok.jpg WangGeon.jpg Sejong of Joseon.jpg Korea-National.Treasure-240-Yun.Duseo-Joseon-Private.jpg Kim Jeong-hui.jpgKim Koo.jpg Kim Dae-jung (Cropped).png Park Ji-Sung.jpg Kim Yu-Na 2009 Worlds.jpg
1st row: Eulji Mundeok • Wang Geon • King Sejong

2nd row: Yun DuseoKim JeonghuiKim Gu
3rd row: Kim Dae-jungPark Ji-Sung • Kim Yuna

Korean people
Total population
80,000,000 (est.)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 South Korea      50,062,000 (2009 est.)[2]
 North Korea      24,051,218 (2009 est.)[3]

Overseas populations as of 2009

 People's Republic of China 2,336,771 [4]
 United States 2,102,283 [4][5]
 Japan 904,512 [4]
 Canada 223,322 [4]
 Russia 222,027 [4][6]
 Uzbekistan 175,939 [4]
 Australia 125,669 [4]
 Philippines 115,400 [4]
 Kazakhstan 103,952 [4]
 Vietnam 88,120 [4]
 Brazil 48,419 [4]
 United Kingdom 45,295 [4]
 Thailand 40,370 [4]
 Indonesia 31,760 [4]
 Germany 31,248 [4]
 New Zealand 30,792 [4]
 Argentina 22,024 [4]
 Kyrgyzstan 19,420 [4]
 France 14,738 [4]
 Malaysia 14,580 [4]
 Singapore 13,509 [4]
 Ukraine 13,001 [4]
 Mexico 12,072 [4]
 Guatemala 9,921 [4]
 India 8,337 [4]
 Sweden 7000 [4]
 Paraguay 5,229 [4]
 Cambodia 4,772 [4]
 Italy 4,203 [4]
 South Africa 3,949
 Spain 3,647
 Taiwan 3,158

Korean speakers: 78 million (1999 est.)[7]


Korean Christianity, Korean Buddhism, Muism (Korean Shamanism), Cheondoism. Large non-religious and atheist segment. Background of Korean Confucianism.[8][9]

The Korean people are an ethnic group originating in the Korean peninsula and Manchuria.[10][11] Koreans are one of the most ethnically and linguistically homogeneous groups in the world.[12]



South Koreans call Koreans Hanguk-in (한국인; 韓國人)—or simply 한인/Han-in for South Koreans living abroad—or informally Hanguk saram (한국 사람; 韓國 사람), while North Koreans call Koreans Chosŏnin (조선인; 朝鮮人) or Chosŏn saram (조선 사람; 朝鮮 사람). See Names of Korea, Korean romanization, Hangul (한글) and Hanja (한자).


Linguistic and archaeological studies

Koreans are believed to be descendants of peoples of Manchuria, often said to be Altaic-[13][14] or proto-Altaic[15]-speaking tribes, linking them with Mongols, Turkic and Tungusic peoples. Archaeological evidence suggests proto-Koreans were migrants from south-central Siberia,[16] who populated ancient Korea in successive waves from the Neolithic age to the Bronze Age.[17]

Genetic studies

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.[18]

Y-DNA haplogroups

Korean males display a high frequency of Haplogroup O2b* (P49), a subclade of possibly Manchurian origin, and O3 (M122), a common Y-DNA haplogroup among East Asians in general.[19][20] Haplogroup O2b* occurs in approximately 14%[21][22][23] to 33%[24] of all Korean males, while haplogroup O3 has been found in approximately 40% of sampled Korean males.[22][25][26] The origins of Korean Haplogroup O3 are thought to be diverse, with some of them having expanded from Manchuria with Haplogroup O2b and some of them having expanded from southern China with rice agriculturists such as the Hmong people.

Korean males also exhibit a moderate frequency of Haplogroup C3. Haplogroup C3 is thought to be the original inhabitants of the area related to the Nivkh people.

mtDNA haplogroups

Studies of Korean mtDNA lineages have shown that there is a high frequency of Haplogroup D4, ranging from approximately 23% among ethnic Koreans in Arun Banner, Inner Mongolia[27] to approximately 27% among ethnic Koreans in southern Manchuria and South Korea.[23] Haplogroup D4 is the modal mtDNA haplogroup among Koreans and among northern 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 15% (27/185 Koreans from South Korea) of Koreans.[23][27] Haplogroup A has been detected in approximately 8% (15/185 Koreans from South Korea) to 15% (7/48 ethnic Koreans from Arun Banner, Inner Mongolia) of Koreans.[23][27] 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, F, D5, M7, M8, M9, M10, M11, R11, C, and Z.[23]

Sung-Soo Hung et al. (Korean:???) of the Department of Biology at Seoul National University found that Mongoloids, including Koreans, were relatively homogenous in 9-bp deletion type of the mtDNA COM/ tRNALys intergenic region and Hung found 16% of Koreans in Seoul (N=175) had this mutation while only 7.8% of Koreans in Cheju (N=38) had this mutation.[28]

Autosomal studies

A 2010 paper on Korean genetics found that of the East Asians, the Koreans are the most genetically distant from Africans. In the same study, Koreans clustered mostly with the Japanese and Beijing/Jilin northeast Chinese populations; however, a significant number of Koreans were found to form a cluster distinct from the Chinese and Japanese. The authors suggested that this cluster were Koreans with significant Siberian admixture, and it was observed mainly in Koreans from the Gyeongsang regions.[29]

A genetic admixture model reports that central Asian Altaic admixture is prevalent in Koreans, whereas it is relatively absent in Han Chinese from Beijing and in the Japanese.[29] This suggests that the main direction of Altaic gene flow into Northeast Asia was from Central Asia into the Korean peninsula via Manchuria. Jongsun Jung et al. reports that the Koreans from central, west and east regions have the highest amount of central Asian Altaic admixture, whereas Koreans from the southwestern tip of Jeju Island have the least. This is in concordance with the fact that the Korean kingdom of Koguryo was situated in the central and northern parts of the Korean peninsula and Manchuria.

A recent paper of 2009 shows Koreans have no Austronesian DNA, whereas the Japanese and Chinese have some Austronesian DNA in their genome. Among the East Asians, Koreans share the least DNA with the Austronesians, while the Han Chinese have the most DNA in common with Austronesians, indicating interaction between Austronesians and Han Chinese. [30] The Japanese are shown to have slightly more DNA in common with Austronesians than the Koreans.[31]

Regional differences

Distinct regional differences, culturally and politically, exist among the Koreans, as they do among other ethnicities.

Within South Korea, the most important regional difference is between the Yeongnam region, embracing Gyeongsangbuk-do and Gyeongsangnam-do provinces in the southeast, and the Honam region, embracing Jeollabuk-do and Jeollanam-do provinces in the southwest. The two regions, separated by the Sobaek Mountains, 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 Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla struggled for control of the peninsula.

Observers noted that interregional marriages are rare, as the two areas have been long separated. As of 1990, a new four-lane highway completed in 1984 between Gwangju and Daegu, the capitals of Jeollanam-do and Gyeongsangbuk-do, had limited success 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 Yeongnam region. As a result, Yeongnam has been a special beneficiary of government development assistance. By contrast, historically the Honam region has remained comparatively rural and undeveloped. Regional social disturbances intensified in the May 1980 Gwangju Democratization Movement or 5.18 Democratization Movement, in which about 200 and perhaps many more college students and citizens of the Gwangju were killed by Chun Doo-hwan's troops. They were sent to quell demonstrations of students and citizens against the government and the military regime. Chun Doo-hwan represented the Gwangju Democratization Movement as if it had been infiltrated by communism by controlling the media. The demonstrations against the military regime occurred all over the country, but only Gwangju was heavily damaged in retaliation. Because the GNP (Grand National Party) stems from the military regime, the people of Honam don't vote for GNP in most elections.

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 farmers in a rural, countryside area, while Koreans from the northern provinces of Pyongan, Hwanghae, and Hamgyong, now in North Korea, are perceived as being diligent and aggressive. Jeju-do is known 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.


The language of the Korean people is the Korean language, which uses Hangul as its main writing system. There are more than 78 million speakers of the Korean language worldwide.[7]

North Korea data

North Korean soldiers in the Joint Security Area.

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 (“village”, the local administrative unit) level in rural areas and the dong (“district” or “block”) level in urban areas.

Korean diaspora

A Russian stamp honouring rock star Viktor Tsoi

Large-scale emigration from Korea began as early as the mid-1860s, mainly into the Russian Far East and Northeast China; these populations would later grow to nearly three million Koreans in China and several hundred thousand Koryo-saram (ethnic Koreans in Central Asia).[32][33] During the Colonial Korea 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.[34][35] 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; as of 2007, roughly 2 million Koreans emigrants and people of Korean descent live in the United States.[citation needed]

The Los Angeles and New York City metropolitan areas in the United States contain the largest populations of ethnic Koreans outside of Korea. 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.[36][37] 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.

The Korean population in the United States is a small share of the US economy, but it has a disproportionately favorable 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.[38]


See also


  1. ^ Korean Peninsula (50 million + 24 million) + Korean diaspora (6.8 million)
  2. ^ Population of South Korea 2010
  3. ^ Preliminary results of the 2008 Census of Population of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea conducted on 1-15 October 2008
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac 재외동포현황/Current Status of Overseas Compatriots. South Korea: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 2009. http://www.mofat.go.kr/consul/overseascitizen/compatriotcondition/index6.jsp?TabMenu=TabMenu6. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  5. ^ Note that the 2006 American Community Survey gave a much smaller figure of 1,520,703. See S0201. Selected Population Profile in the United States. United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/IPTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=01000US&-qr_name=ACS_2006_EST_G00_S0201&-qr_name=ACS_2006_EST_G00_S0201PR&-qr_name=ACS_2006_EST_G00_S0201T&-qr_name=ACS_2006_EST_G00_S0201TPR&-ds_name=ACS_2006_EST_G00_&-reg=ACS_2006_EST_G00_S0201:042;ACS_2006_EST_G00_S0201PR:042;ACS_2006_EST_G00_S0201T:042;ACS_2006_EST_G00_S0201TPR:042&-_lang=en&-redoLog=false&-format=. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  6. ^ The 2002 Russian census gave a figure of 148,556. See (in Russian) (Microsoft Excel) Население по национальности и владению русским языком по субъектам Российской Федерации. Федеральная служба государственной статистики. http://www.perepis2002.ru/ct/doc/TOM_04_03.xls. Retrieved 2006-12-01 
  7. ^ a b "Korean". ethnologue. http://www.ethnologue.com/14/show_iso639.asp?code=kor. Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  8. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report 2008 – Korea, Republic of". U.S. Department of State. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 22 January 2009. http://2001-2009.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2008/108411.htm. Retrieved 31 January 2009. 
  9. ^ state.gov
  10. ^ Asian Americans: Contemporary Trends and Issues – Page 40 by Pyong Gap Min
  11. ^ www.unish.org/unish/DOWN/PDF/912.pdf
  12. ^ "South Korea". US Department of State. December 10, 2010. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2800.htm. Retrieved February 16, 2011. 
  13. ^ Nelson, Sarah M.. The Archaeology of Korea. 
  14. ^ "Korean people(???)" (in Korean). Naver Encyclopedia. http://100.naver.com/100.nhn?docid=186719. Retrieved 2007-03-09. 
  15. ^ "Korean people(???)" (in Korean). Encyclopedia Britannica Korea. http://preview.britannica.co.kr/bol/topic.asp?article_id=b24h2877b. Retrieved 2007-03-09. 
  16. ^ The Rise of Civilization in East Asia: the Archaeology of China, Korea and Japan, pp. 165
  17. ^ ?? ?? ???, ?? ?? ???: ???, ??, pp. 44–45
  18. ^ http://www.springerlink.com/content/p604310l152202g4/
  19. ^ Hong Shi, Yong-li Dong, Bo Wen et al., "Y-Chromosome Evidence of Southern Origin of the East Asian–Specific Haplogroup O3-M122," Am. J. Hum. Genet. 77:408–419, 2005
  20. ^ Bo Wen, Hui Li, Daru Lu et al., "Genetic evidence supports demic diffusion of Han culture," Nature, Vol 431, 16 September 2004
  21. ^ Han-Jun Jin, Kyoung-Don Kwak, Michael F. Hammer, Yutaka Nakahori, Toshikatsu Shinka, Ju-Won Lee, Feng Jin, Xuming Jia, Chris Tyler-Smith and Wook Kim, "Y-chromosomal DNA haplogroups and their implications for the dual origins of the Koreans," Human Genetics (2003)
  22. ^ a b Yali Xue, Tatiana Zerjal, Weidong Bao et al., "Male Demography in East Asia: A North–South Contrast in Human Population Expansion Times," Genetics 172: 2431–2439 (April 2006). DOI: 10.1534/genetics.105.054270
  23. ^ a b c d e Han-Jun Jin, Chris Tyler-Smith, and Wook Kim (2009), "The Peopling of Korea Revealed by Analyses of Mitochondrial DNA and Y-Chromosomal Markers," PLoS ONE 4(1): e4210. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004210
  24. ^ Hammer, Michael F.; Karafet, Tatiana M.; Park, Hwayong et al.; Omoto, K; Harihara, S; Stoneking, M; Horai, S (2006). "Dual origins of the Japanese: common ground for hunter-gatherer and farmer Y chromosomes". Journal of Human Genetics 51 (1): 47–58. doi:10.1007/s10038-005-0322-0. PMID 16328082. 
  25. ^ Shin, Dong Jik et al 2001, Y-Chromosome multiplexes and their potential for the DNA profiling of Koreans
  26. ^ Kim W, Yoo T-K, Kim S-J, Shin D-J, Tyler-Smith C, et al. (2007) Lack of Association between Y-Chromosomal Haplogroups and Prostate Cancer in the Korean Population. PLoS ONE 2(1): e172. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000172
  27. ^ a b c Qing-Peng Kong, Yong-Gang Yao, Mu Liu et al., "Mitochondrial DNA sequence polymorphisms of five ethnic populations from northern China," Hum Genet (2003) 113 : 391–405. DOI 10.1007/s00439-003-1004-7
  28. ^ Sung-Soo Hong, Satoshi Horai & Chung-Choo Lee. (2010). Distribution of the 9-bp deletion in COII/ tRNALys intergenic region of mitochondrial DNA is relatively homogeneous in EastAsian populations Korean Journal of Biological Sciences.
  29. ^ a b "Gene Flow between the Korean Peninsula and Its Neighboring Countries". PLoS ONE: accelerating the publication of peer-reviewed science. http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0011855. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  30. ^ "Mapping Human Genetic Diversity in Asia ,,". Science Magazine. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/326/5959/1541.abstract. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  31. ^ http://humpopgenfudan.cn/p/A/A1.pdf
  32. ^ Lee Kwang-kyu (2000). Overseas Koreans. Seoul: Jimoondang. ISBN 89-88095-18-9. 
  33. ^ Kim, Si-joong (2003). "The Economic Status and Role of Ethnic Koreans in China" (PDF). The Korean Diaspora in the World Economy. Institute for International Economics. pp. Ch. 6: 101–131. http://www.iie.com/publications/chapters_preview/365/6iie3586.pdf. 
  34. ^ Ban, Byung-yool (2004-09-22). "Koreans in Russia: Historical Perspective". Korea Times. http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/nation/200409/kt2004092218583111950.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-20. 
  35. ^ NOZAKI, Yoshiki; INOKUCHI Hiromitsu, KIM Tae-Young. "Legal Categories, Demographic Change and Japan’s Korean Residents in the Long Twentieth Century". Japan Focus. http://www.japanfocus.org/products/details/2220. 
  36. ^ Kelly, Tim (2006-09-18). "Ho Chi Minh Money Trail". Forbes. http://members.forbes.com/global/2006/0918/028.html. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  37. ^ Meinardus, Ronaldo (2005-12-15). ""Korean Wave" in Philippines". The Korea Times. http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/opinion/200512/kt2005121517211054280.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-16. 
  38. ^ http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/QTTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=01000US&-qr_name=DEC_2000_SF4_U_QTP33&-reg=DEC_2000_SF4_U_QTP33:001%7C023&-ds_name=DEC_2000_SF4_U&-_lang=en&-format=&-CONTEXT=qt


External links

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