Learn more about Koreans
|Total population||79 million (est.)|
|Regions with significant populations|| South Korea: 49,422,644 (2005 est.)|
North Korea: 22,912,177 (2005 est.)
United States: 2,057,546
Former Soviet Union: 486,857
Great Britain: 31,000
other countries: ???
|Language||Korean speakers: 72 million|
|Religion|| Nonreligious, Christian, Buddhist, Confucian, indigenous, other <tr>
<th style="background-color:#fee8ab;">Related ethnic groups</th> <td style="background-color:#fff6d9;">Possibly: Japanese,Tungusic, Mongolian</td>
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.
North Koreans call Koreans Chosŏn-in (조선인; 朝鮮人) or Chosŏn saram (조선 사람; 朝鮮 사람), while South Koreans call Koreans Hangugin (한국인; 韓國人) or Hanguk saram (한국 사람; 韓國 사람). See Names of Korea, Korean romanization, Hangul and Hanja.
- See also: History of Korea
Studies of classical genetic polymorphisms generally place the Koreans in a tight cluster with the Mongols and Manchus to their west and north. However, 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. 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.
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 (monggo-banjeom), 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 1990 both South Korea and North Korea were 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. Consciousness of homogeneity is a major reason why Koreans on both sides of the DMZ viewed their country's division as an unnatural and unnecessary tragedy.
 Regional differences
Against the background of ethnic homogeneity, however, significant regional differences exist.
Within South Korea, the most important regional difference is between the Kyongsang region, embracing North Kyongsang and South Kyongsang provinces in the southeast, and the Cholla region, embracing North Cholla and South Cholla provinces in the southwest. The two regions, separated by the Chiri 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 Kwangju and Taegu, the capitals of South Cholla and North Kyongsang provinces, 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 Kyongsang region. As a result, Kyongsang has been a special beneficiary of government development assistance.
By contrast, the Cholla 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 South Cholla Province 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 occured all over the country, but only Gwangju was chosen and heavily damaged. Many of the troops reportedly were from the Kyongsang 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 Kyonggi Province, surrounding Seoul, are often described as being cultured, and Ch'ungch'ong people, inhabiting the region embracing North Ch'ungch'ong and South Ch'ungch'ong provinces, are thought to be mild-mannered, manifesting true yangban virtues. The people of Kangwon Province 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. Cheju Island is famous 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.
 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
 United States
More than 2 million ethnic Koreans live in the U.S., mostly in metropolitan areas. A handful are descended from laborers who migrated to Hawaii in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A significant number are descended from orphans of the Korean War, in which the U.S. was a major ally of South Korea. Thousands were adopted by American (mostly white) families in the years following the war, when their plight was covered on television. The vast majority, however, immigrated or are descended from those who immigrated after the Hart-Cellar Act of 1965 abolished national immigration quotas.
The largest Korean-American community is in Los Angeles, California; Los Angeles' Koreatown district is extensive and recognized by the city. Many smaller Korean enclaves exist in several surrounding communities of Southern California, notably in Cerritos, South Bay (Torrance, Rancho Palos Verdes), North Orange County (Buena Park, Garden Grove, Fullerton, etc.), San Fernando Valley (Granada Hills). Another significant Korean enclave is found in New York City, which includes Manhattan Koreatown, although the main concentration are found in the borough of Queens.
Other Korean enclaves can be found in the suburbs of Seattle and Tacoma, Washington (such as Shoreline, Washington, Lake Forest Park, Washington, Edmonds, Washington, Lynnwood, Washington and Federal Way, Washington); Houston, Texas; Bergen County, New Jersey; Cook County, Illinois; Miami and Tampa, Florida. As many Korean Americans have prospered economically and dispersed to live in suburban areas, ethnic enclaves in the traditional sense do not exist in many areas, although Korean churches and Korean-oriented commercial districts serving the distributed population can often be found. States with the largest Korean populations are California, Florida, Maryland, New York, Washington, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois, Virginia, and Atlanta, Georgia.
 Former Soviet Union
Approximately 450,000 ethnic Koreans reside in the former USSR, primarily in the newly independent states of Central Asia. There are also large Korean communities in southern Russia (around Volgograd), the Caucasus, and southern Ukraine. These communities can be traced back to the Koreans who were living in the Russian Far East during the late 19th century. There is also a separate ethnic Korean community in the Russian island of Sakhalin, where Koreans relocated by Japan as labourers were stranded after the island became Soviet territory after World War II.
- See also: Ethnic Koreans in China
There are about 2 million ethnic Koreans in China, and they mostly occupy northeastern China, especially in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in Jilin Province, where they numbered 854,000 in 1997.
Koreans in Japan are called Zainichi Chōsenjin (在日朝鮮人, for North Koreans) or Zainichi Kankokujin (在日韓国人, for South Koreans) in Japanese and Jaeil Gyopo (재일교포; 在日僑胞) in Korean. There are 529,000 Koreans in Japan, amounting to 40.4% of the non-Japanese population of the country. Three-quarters of the Koreans living in Japan are Japanese-born, and most are legal aliens.
 Other countries
Large Koreatowns can also be found in Australia, Brazil, and Canada. 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. Over the last decades, an influx of Korean migration to the Philippines has risen due to the high cost of living in South Korea. Being the closest tropical country with a relatively low cost of living, the Philippine islands also serve as one of the most favorable tourist destinations for Korean travelers with nearly half a million Koreans visiting the country every year and roughly 50,000 Korean expatriates living there permanently.
- This article contains material from the Library of Congress Country Studies, which are United States government publications in the public domain.
 See also
 External links
- Korean Food Glossary
- Korean American Museum
- Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan)
- Koryo Saram – The Koreans of Central Asiade:Koreaner