There are some big misunderstandings and myth related to origins of Koreans, to many westerners Koreans are some where between Chinese and Japanese, and for Chinese people specially these from Northern China (mainland Chinese), Koreans are just another Chinese people which are most common myths.
For these interested in reading scientific research, here is the paper.
The Peopling of Korea Revealed by Analyses of mt DNA and Y-Chromosomal Markers
Which gives you pretty accurate picture of average Korean in terms of genetic research POV.
At this thread I would like to clarify some myths surrounding origins of Koreans.
As most people know, today's Korea is divided into two countries, one at North and other one at South parts of Korean peninsula. Please note the term 'Koreans' refers to people in Korean peninsula, ancient Koreans were often called Kori and sometimes called people of Han (not related to Han Dynasty).
Today, modern Koreans have multiple ancient origins but remained one of most homogeneous people on earth, and I would say probably the most homogeneous people among other homogeneous people. This was possible because Korean kingdom was largely unknown or mysterious to foreigners other than Chinese, Mongolian, Japanese and few NE Asian tribes. Due to last dynastic ruler of Korean kingdom blocked foreigners entering Korea, Korea earned the name of hermit kingdom. Btw, Korea was only open its door to foreigners well after late 19th century.
Myth 1: Koreans are Mongolian or came from Mongolian tribes
Answer 1: Wrong, Koreans are one of the Mongoloids but not actually related to Mongolian.
Physical appearance of average Korean people reflects the geography of Korea hence there are many theories relating to founding legends of Korean people.
Myth 2: Koreans and Japanese are related
Answer 2: Not that related as originally thought, Koreans and Japanese shared some common physical traits which again only reflects the climate/geographic location.
If you read the scientific DNA research papers, Koreans and Japanese are most closest among other Asians if we use the mt-DNA analysis. But not so similar when using Y-chromosome analysis (Full analysis of comparison can be view from above scientific research paper link provided).
Myth 3: Koreans were came from ancient Chinese people
Answer 3: It depends how people want to trace back far, if Koreans came from ancient Chinese, then we might just call it all Asians are related hence modern humans have began from African continent. The answer is big 'No'.
Using mt-DNA analysis, Koreans have totally different patterns from Chinese mt-DNA, however Koreans do carried one prominent Y-chromosome that largely exist in Chinese people, however we can't just use one Y-chromosome marker as 'related' due to every Asians have this Y-chromosome marker.
Myth 4: Koreans are Tungusic people or related to Tungusic tribes
Answer 4: Not really, only 50% of Koreans show Tungus origin patterns. I would say Koreans have multi-tribal origins of NE Asian continent.
1. Where the hell ancient Korean tribes immigrated from?
There are many theories what, where, how they originated. There isn't definite answer to this question as humans are constantly moving around. It is believed to be oldest human + relic remains in Korean peninsula dating back to 8000BC, which roughly translate 10,000 years of early human migration during ice age. When ice melted during last major ice age (around 11000BC~10000BC), tribes started immigrating to warming climate lands. I'm guessing this is where first ancient Korean appeared in Korean peninsula.
Here is what most Korean scholars believes where ancient people moved into Korean peninsula.
2. Korean language is related to Japanese or Chinese or what ever
Please note modern Korean language is different from ancient Korean language (Old Korean or Proto-Korean tribal language). Modern Korean language is largely owed to creation of Korean alphabet back in 1446AD and largely have not changed until today other than imported foreign words and phrases. Grammar, accent & dialects are kept largely unchanged since 15th century.
Also, modern Korean vocabulary use many Sino-Korean words (Chinese words pronounced in Korean), around 60% of words in Korean is Sino-Korean words but this has been decreased to around 40% due to other foreign words replaced the old words (mainly from English/European).
Korean language also have slang words, accents, dialects and native Korean words (some are still used or others are simply not used today, but still kept records of them).
There are some nationalistic approach movement in Korea to use 100% native Korean words in order to preserve them to next generations. By using native Korean words, Korean language will sound very different.
There are some theory of Mongolian and Japanese language could have influenced Korean language as Korean was once under Mongolian empire as many Mongolian princesses married Korean princes in order to kept Korea under Mongolian influence and during early 1900s (1908~45) Korea was under Japanese control, and during this time Japanese government have attempt to forcefully assimilate Korean people as Japanese people, hence Japanese government banned usage of Korean language even banned many Korean folk cultures. But it wasn't successful.
Most people misunderstood about Korean culture, many Chinese nationals thinks Koreans have been borrowing from Chinese culture and same for Japanese nationals thinks Koreans have stole their culture.
Please note, Korean culture is very old, it's not something made out of during modern days.
Due to close proximity of Korean peninsula with neighboring nations like China and Japan, there are many overlapping cultures.
Edited by SNK_1408, 24 September 2009 - 03:48 PM.