Korean people

Where they live[1]
South Korea (50 million est.), North Korea (24 million est.), China (2.3 million est.), United States (2.1 million est.), Japan (0.9 million est.), others (1.5 million est.)
Total population
81 million (est.)
Language branch
Altaic, Korean branch, Korean
No Religion (49.3%), Buddhism (23.2%), Protestantism (19.7%), Catholicism (6.6%), Confucianism (0.5%), Won Buddhism (0.2%), Cheondoism (0.1%), others (0.4%). Background of Muism (native Korean religion).
Other names
Baedal gyeore, Han gyeore, Han guk-in, Han guk-saram, Han in, Han minjok, Chosŏn in, Chosŏn minjok, Chosŏn saram
Dongpo or Gyopo (overseas Korean), Goryeo in (Koreans living in Russia and Central Asian countries), Joseon jok (Korean-Chinese)
Related to
Japanese, Manchurian, Mongolian


Recent genetic analysis on Korean with eight ethnics (Korean in China, Japanese, Han Chinese, Mongolian, Zhuangs, Malays, Javanese, and Soviet Asians) suggested that Korean have the common origin to central Asians, and Mongolian[3]. Genetic analysis on ancient bones in the Stone Age supported the origin of ancient Korean from Altaic mountain and Baikal lake[4]. Another genetic and archaeology study on ancient dead bodies showed that Korean and Mongolian were already separated in the Stone Age, and some features of ancient Mongolian similar to Korean disappeared during this time[5]. mtDNA studies showed that Buryats are closer to Korean than to other populations[6]. However, it can mislead to say that Korean were originated from Mongolian because Korean history is much longer than Mongolian one and Korean had existed long before Mongol identity was established. Korean have specific genetic type haplogroup A5 arisen 10,000 years ago. The broader genetic type haplogroup A of A5, evolved in central Asia between Caspian sea and Baikal lake, moved to Korean peninsular through Manchuria reaching Japan[7].

Most DNA studies consistently show that Korean are genetically closer to Japanese, Manchurian[8], and Mongolian, but distinct from Chinese. Some studies show some similarities between Altaic people and Northern Chinese rather than Southern Chinese, and it is the result of the history that Altaic people conquered and colonized China for a long time. Such DNA analysis should not be understood as Chinese influence. (Click here to see Altaic influence on Chinese)

Korean is Altaic ?!

Korean language is classified as Altaic language with SOV, vowel harmony and agglutinative grammar. There are lots of archaeological and anthropological evidences showing Altaic links to Koreans. It should not be misled by lots of Korean vocabulary of Chinese origin (Hanja). They were just borrowed words[9]. Most of modern Hanja vocabulary were from Japan during early 20th century since Japan imported western system and culture 1st in Asia during modernization. Some Hanja words were created in Korea.

Physical characteristics

Typical appearance of Koreans is characterized by small and sharp eyes, a bigger head, lots of flesh on face, bigger body, shorter hands and legs, and light skin. These characteristics are consistent with northern people's style that was evolved to survive in cold weather during glacial period.


Arirang is the most famous Korean traditional folk song. Some say Arirang is unofficial national anthem of Korea.


Various Arirang songs

Jindo Arirang, Miryang Arirang, Gangwondo Arirang, Jeongseon Arirang, ...



Subalki (Dongyi Taekkyeon)



Gayageum Sanjo

Guitar Sanjo

Sanjo Fantasy

Drum performance

Janggo chum




Yukjabaegi, a southern Korean fork song

Muism, Korean shamanism

Korean shamans
The ones who refuse to be a shaman

UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Korean

  1. 2008 The Royal Ancestral Ritual in the Jongmyo Shrine and its Music
  2. 2008 The Pansori Epic Chant
  3. 2008 The Gangneung Danoje Festival
  4. 2009 Yeongsanjae
  5. 2009 Namsadang Nori
  6. 2009 Jeju Chilmeoridang Yeongdeunggut
  7. 2009 Ganggangsullae
  8. 2009 Cheoyongmu
  9. 2009 Farmers' dance of China's Korean ethnic group
    • China inscribed Korean culture, Pungmul[10] in the UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of China.
  10. 2010 Gagok, lyric song cycles accompanied by an orchestra
  11. 2010 Falconry, a living human heritage
    • together with United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Mongolia, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Syrian Arab Republic
  12. 2010 Daemokjang, traditional wooden architecture
  13. 2011 Taekkyeon, a traditional Korean martial art
  14. 2011 Jultagi, tightrope walking
  15. 2011 Weaving of Mosi (fine ramie) in the Hansan region
  16. 2012 Arirang, lyrical folk song in the Republic of Korea

Internal links

  1. Korean history
  2. North Korea
  3. South Korea


  1. ^ Koreans from Wikipedia.
  2. ^ Statistics Korea (KOSTAT)
  3. ^ Saha N, Tay JS., "Origin of the Koreans: a population genetic study", Am J Phys Anthropol. 1992 May;88(1):27-36.
  4. ^ Hwan Young Lee, et. al., "Genetic Characterization and Assessment of Authenticity of Ancient Korean Skeletal Remains", Human Biology 80(3):239-250. 2008.
  5. ^ "Korean and Mongolian seperated in the Stone Age.", Donga Ilbo, 2008, Dec. 19.
  6. ^ Koji Shimizu, et. al. "β-Globin Gene Cluster Haplotype Frequencies in Khalkhs and Buryats of Mongolia", Human Biology 78.6 (2006) 749-756.
  8. ^ Toru Katoh, et. al., "Genetic features of Mongolian ethnic groups revealed by Y-chromosomal analysis", Gene, Volume 346, 14 February 2005, Pages 63-70.
  9. ^ Sino-Korean vocabulary from Wikipedia
  10. ^ The 11th Important Intangible Cultural Properties of Korea from Wikipedia

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