South Koreans refer to themselves as Hanguk-in (Korean: , Hanja: ) or Hanguk-saram (Korean: ), both of which mean "Korean country people." When including members of the Korean diaspora, Koreans often use the term Han-in (Korean: ; Hanja: , lit.'Korean people'). Korean Americans refer to themselves as Hangukgye-Migukin (Korean: , Hanja: ).
Ethnic Koreans living in Russia and Central Asia refer to themselves as Koryo-saram (Korean: ; Cyrillic ), alluding to Goryeo, a Korean dynasty spanning from 918 to 1392.
Linguistic and archaeological studies
Modern Koreans are suggested to be the descendants of the ancient people from Manchuria, Mongolia and southern Siberia, who emigrated settled in the northern Korean Peninsula.[page needed][verification needed] Archaeological evidence suggests that proto-Koreans were migrants from Manchuria during the Bronze Age. They have links with the Mongols. According to most linguists and archaeologists with expertise in ancient Korea, the linguistic homeland of proto-Korean and of the early Koreans is located somewhere in Manchuria, particularly the Liao river. Later, Koreanic-speakers already present in northern Korea started to expand further south, replacing and assimilating Japonic-speakers and likely causing the Yayoi migration. Whitman (2012) suggests that the Proto-Koreans arrived in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula at around 300 BCE and coexisted with the descendants of the Japonic Mumun cultivators (or assimilated them). Vovin suggests Old Korean was established in southern Manchuria and northern Korean peninsula by the Three Kingdoms of Korea period, and migrated from there to southern Korea during this period by Goguryeo migrants.
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 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.
Neville Moray (2005) said that, for Korean and Japanese pilots, sitting height is more than 54% of their stature, with about 46% of their stature from leg length. Moray said that, for Americans and most Europeans, sitting height is about 52% of their stature, with about 48% of their stature from leg length.
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. 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.
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.
Koreans display high frequencies of the Y-DNA haplogroups O2-M122 (approximately 40% of all present-day Korean males), O1b2-M176 (approximately 30%), and C2-M217 (approximately 15%). Genetic studies also found that, just like other East Asians, Koreans are almost very similar to their ancestors, the proto-koreans.  Although few people claim that Koreans descended from several groups, a recent study show that Koreans possess a dual ancestry.
Korea Foundation Associate Professor of History, Eugene Y. Park said that many Koreans seem to have a genealogical memory blackout before the twentieth century. According to him the vast majority Koreans do not know their actual genealogical history. 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. He 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. Park said that these master narratives connect the same surname and ancestral seat to a single, common ancestor. 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. Only a small percentage of Koreans had surnames and ancestral seats to begin with, and that the rest of the Korean population had adopted these surname and ancestral seat identities within the last two to three hundred years.
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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 a minor use of Hanja. There are more than 78 million speakers of the Korean language worldwide.
Traditional Korean royal wedding ceremony with the male royal wearing royal costume
In June 2012, South Korea's population reached 50 million and by the end of 2016, South Korea's population has surpassed 51 million people. Since the 2000s, South Korea has been struggling with a low birthrate, leading some researchers to suggest that if current population trends hold, the country's population will shrink to approximately 38 million population towards the end of the 21st century. In 2018, fertility in South Korea became again a topic of international debate after only 26,500 babies were born in October and an estimated of 325,000 babies in the year, causing the country to have the lowest birth rate in the world.
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 emigration to the U.S. 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 2017, excluding the undocumented and uncounted, roughly 1.85 million Koreans emigrants and people of Korean descent live in the United States according to the official figure by the US Census. 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. The Korean population in the United States represents a small share of the American economy, but has a disproportionately positive impact.Korean Americans have a savings rate double that of the U.S. average and also graduate from college at a rate double that of the U.S. average, providing highly skilled and educated professionals to the American workforce. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's Census 2000 data, mean household earnings for ethnic Koreans in the U.S. was $59,981, approximately 5.1% higher than the U.S. average at the time of $56,604.
Significant Korean populations are present in China, Japan, Argentina, Brazil and Canada as well. The number of Koreans in Indonesia grew during the 1980s, while during the 1990s and 2000s the number of Koreans in the Philippines and Koreans in Vietnam have also grown significantly. In Central Asia, significant populations reside in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, as well as parts of Russia including the Far East. Known as Koryo-saram, many of these are ancestors of Koreans who were forcely deported during the Soviet Union's Stalin regime. The Korean overseas community of Uzbekistan is the 5th largest outside Korea.
Pak Noja said that there were 5,747 Japanese-Korean couples in Korea at the end of 1941. Pak Cheil estimated there to be 70,000 to 80,000 "semi-Koreans" in Japan in the years immediately after the war.
A traditional-style Korean wedding in November 2006 with the bride in a Korean costume and the groom in a Korean costume that is also worn by palace officials and royal men since the Unified Silla Kingdom period
^"International Religious Freedom Report: Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) 2015"(PDF). U.S. Department of State. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Retrieved 2016. In a 2002 report ... the government reported there were 12,000 Protestants, 10,000 Buddhists, and 800 Roman Catholics. The report noted that Cheondoism, a modern religious movement based on 19th century Korean neo-Confucian movement, had approximately 15,000 practitioners. Consulting shamans and engaging in shamanistic rituals is reportedly widespread but difficult to quantify.
^"International Religious Freedom Report: Republic of Korea 2015"(PDF). U.S. Department of State. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Retrieved 2016. According to a 2010 survey, approximately 24 percent of the population is Buddhist; 24 percent Protestant; 8 percent Roman Catholic; and 43 percent professes no religious belief. Followers of all other religious groups ... together constitute less than 1 percent of the population.
^Janhunen, Juha (2010). "RReconstructing the Language Map of Prehistorical Northeast Asia". Studia Orientalia (108). ... there are strong indications that the neighbouring Baekje state (in the southwest) was predominantly Japonic-speaking until it was linguistically Koreanized.
^Vovin, Alexander (2013). "From Koguryo to Tamna: Slowly riding to the South with speakers of Proto-Korean". Korean Linguistics. 15 (2): 222-240.
^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."
^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."
^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, T?khwa (???). 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."
^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."
^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."