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Koreans (Hangul: 한민족; Hanja: 韓民族; alternatively Hangul: 조선민족; Hanja: 朝鮮民族, see names of Korea) are an ethnic group native to the whole Korean Peninsula and southeastern Manchuria.


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 minority in China, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, 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, United States, Canada and, to a lesser extent, other nations with primarily immigrant background.

As of 2013, there were an estimated 7.4 million ethnic Korean expatriates around the World.


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 country 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". 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".

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 of the peoples that migrated for over 13.000-7.000 years from Southeast Asia or South Asia up to north into the Korean Peninsula and southern Manchuria. Later some Chinese and other, often said to be Siberian or paleo-Asian tribes migrated into parts of Korea and mixed with the local population. Archaeological evidence suggests that most of the later arriving tribes were migrants from south-central Siberia.

Susumu Ōno, Ki-Moon Lee and Choong-Soon Kim suspect that proto-Dravidian people migrated to Korea and parts of Japan. Susumu Ōno suggest also an Austronesian immigration into the Korean peninsula and Japan.

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

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. The newest study of 2017 of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and international research teams from the UK, Russia and Germany announced on Feb. 2 that the genetic structure of modern Koreans is a mixture by both northern and southern people over thousands of years, and that the genetic structure of modern Koreans is closer to that of southern Asians and not to northern Asians as considered first.

Y-DNA haplogroups

Korean males display a high frequency of Haplogroup O-M176 (O2b), a subclade that probably has spread mainly from somewhere in the Korean Peninsula or its vicinity, and Haplogroup O-M122 (O3), a common Y-DNA haplogroup among East and Southeast Asians in general. Haplogroup O2b occurs in approximately 30% (ranging from 20% to 37%) of all Korean males, while haplogroup O3 has been found in approximately 40% of sampled Korean males. 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, 3/300 = 1.0% DE-M145, 1/68 = 1.5% DE-YAP(xE-SRY4064), 8/506 = 1.6% D1b-M55, 3/154 = 1.9% DE, 18/706 = 2.55% D-M174, 5/164 = 3.0% D-M174, 1/75 D1b*-P37.1(xD1b1-M116.1) + 2/75 D1b1a-M125(xD1b1a1-P42) = 3/75 = 4.0% D1b-P37.1, 3/45 = 6.7% D-M174). 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. Other haplogroups that have been found less commonly in samples of Korean males are Y-DNA haplogroup N-M231 (approx. 4%), haplogroup O1-MSY2.2 (approx. 3%), O2(xO2b) (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.

mtDNA haplogroups

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 to approximately 32% (33/103) among Koreans from South Korea. Haplogroup D4 is the modal mtDNA haplogroup among Koreans and among Northeast 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. 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. 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%).


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 with some Hanja. There are more than 78 million speakers of the Korean language worldwide.

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 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 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 diaspora

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). 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.

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. A realistic figure is probably well over 2 million.

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. 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 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.


Koreans Wikipedia