With the influence of the Korean wave worldwide, it's impossible not to hear anything from the Korean culture or Korean people. From the very family-oriented people down to the talented K-pop idols, actors, and actresses, Korean people are truly one of a kind. So, let's learn more about them.
Koreans are the world's fifteenth-most populous ethnic group, and they mainly live in the Korean peninsula. Korea is a peninsula located in East Asia. The Korean peninsula is divided into two countries - North Korea and South Korea. But, there are other Koreans in different parts of the world. There are Koreans in the West, in different Korean diasporas, and how do Koreans call themselves?
South Koreans are from the Southern part of Korea. South Koreans call themselves Hanguk-in (한국인) or Hanguk-saram (한국 사람), which means "people of the (Sam)han state."
On the other hand, North Koreans refer to themselves as Joseon-in (조선인) or Joseon-saram (조선 사람). These terms mean "Joseon people," which came from a Korean kingdom founded by Yi Seonggye called the Joseon Dynasty. This kingdom lasted for approximately five centuries, from 1392 to 1910.
If you wonder how the Korean peninsula was divided, the answer can be traced from their history, starting from World War II. If you wanna know more about it, you can read the blog about the Korean war.
Other Asian countries, including Japan, China, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, acknowledge them as ethnic minorities. Koreans are also well-represented in Europe, particularly in Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France.
Other Korean diasporas Koreans use the term Han-in ( 한인). For Korean Americans, the term they use to refer to themselves is Hangukgye-Migukin (한국계).
Korean communities have also emerged across the Americas (particularly in the United States and Canada) and Oceania during the twentieth century. An estimated 7.5 million ethnic Koreans will be living outside of Korea in 2020.
Knowing the roots of people has always been fascinating to learn. It explains a lot about their history, from their ancestry to this modern times. Many K-pop/K-drama fans spend lots of their watching K-dramas, watching concerts, listening to their music, and others. But, wouldn't it be more interesting if you knew about their origin?
The modern Koreans that we knew today are thought to be descended from ancient Manchurians, who migrated to the northern Korean Peninsula.
For those who do not know, Manchuria is an exonym representing a historical and geographical region in Northeast Asia shared by Russia and China (mostly in Northeast China today).
From 1932 until 1945, it was ruled by the Japanese colony. There is also archaeological evidence implying that proto-Koreans were Bronze Age migrants from Manchuria. Because of this, it is believed that Koreans have links to Japanese people.
People believed that the Koreans had ties to the people of Central Asia, Siberia's Lake Baikal region, Mongolia, and the Yellow Sea's coastline districts.
We always admire the culture of the Koreans when we see it in Korean dramas. Everything looks elegant and conservative. What makes it more interesting is that Koreans could preserve their culture through times.
A culture is a set of beliefs and practices shared by people. North and South Korea may be divided into two countries, but they share the same culture and tradition. They only differ in their political and religious beliefs.
There are many things to talk about in Korean culture, but we will only talk about the most important ones. If you wanna know more about Korean culture, you can read the blog The Korean Culture: 5+ Easy Facts!
The language of the Korean people is called the Korean language. It is probably the easiest language among the languages spoken in East Asia, like Japanese and Chinese. Many language learners have successfully learned how to write and speak Korean in a short period. The Korean alphabet is called Hangul, created by King Sejong the Great.
Another interesting fact about the Korean language is that they have different politeness levels. Koreans speak according to their hierarchy. The way you speak to someone older than you or those with higher status. It is something that foreigners should remember when they are in Korea.
After the introduction of Hangul, citizens started to officially use this method of writing as it was widespread across the country. However, some Hanja (한자) is still used by South Koreans today, particularly in government documents.
On the other hand, the state of Hanja in North Korea is different. It has not been used in North Korea since 1949. North Koreans have replaced many borrowed Chinese words with native Korean equivalents. Chinese loan terms are still in use and are now written in Hangul.
Korean is also spoken in different countries like the United States, China, and Japan. Beijing, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, Osaka, Atlanta, and Sydney are the cities having the most Koreans outside of the Korean peninsula.
The Korean culture is rich in different celebrations. In this blog, we will be just talking about Korea's four (4) major celebrations.
It is the most widely observed traditional Korean holiday on the first day of the year in the Lunar Calendar. As we know, Korea uses a lunisolar calendar. People practice ancestral ceremonies, pay respects to their elders, and share well-wishes during this ceremony.
They also perform Saebae, where they bow to elders, and the elders would give the younger advice. The Saebae and well-wishing are the highlights of this celebration.
Koreans also eat Tteokguk, a traditional Korean soup made with sliced rice cakes. All Koreans age one year during Lunar New Year's Day, and they say that this ceremony wouldn't be complete if they didn't eat tteokguk.
Dano is a Korean harvest festival on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. It comprises a rite where people ask for a successful harvest after planting crops. Traditionally, women perform Danojang, washing their hair in changpo (iris) water. They wear new clothes and changpo or the ornamental hairpins.
There is also food eaten during this particular celebration called Ssuktteok (both are herb rice cakes) and Angdu Hwachae (a cherry punch). Folk games such as swings, Ssireum (Korean wrestling), archery, and other physical pastimes are popular at this celebration.
Chuseok (추석), the Korean Thanksgiving, falls on the 15th day of August on the lunar calendar. During this celebration, families practice different ceremonies like Charye and Seongmyo. Charye refers to filling a table with food like Songpyeon (traditional rice cake made with finely ground fresh rice) and newly harvested rice.
On the other hand, Seongmyo refers to visiting ancestral graves and making a formal bow. They also perform Beolcho, which is the trimming of grass and pulling off the weeds around the grave.
Chuseok is a three-day holiday celebrated every fall. During these celebrations, people from urban areas come to their hometowns to be with their families. But, because of industrialization, fewer Koreans perform these traditional ceremonies.
Hansik is a celebration that comes from an ancient Chinese custom. It falls on the 105th day after Dongzhi or the 5th day of April by the Gregorian calendar. During this celebration, people eat cold food for a long time without using heat. People perform ancestral rites and Seongmyo on this day, as they do on other big holidays.
Korean literature is a body of work written by Korean people, primarily in Korean but occasionally in Classical Chinese. Traditional Korean folk beliefs and folk tales are the foundations of classical Korean literature.
Korea's music was very patriotic during ancient times. Their conservative culture can be reflected in the music produced during that time. It became the music trend in South Korea until Seo Taiji & Boys made their debut on Korean Television. They revolutionized Korean music bringing the influence from the West.
Today, Korean music, specifically K-pop, has a massive influence worldwide. One great example of this huge success is the recognition and large fanbase that BTS is getting. There are many more Korean groups and idols that have been known in the past years. Now, K-pop doesn't leave the list of top trending music globally.
Korean food is one of the trendiest food nowadays, not just because of the Hallyu or Korean wave but also because of how it tastes. There are four distinct seasons in Korea, and this tells so much about the food they eat and the abundant food ingredients that they use for cooking. But, there is all-time Korean food consumed anytime, like Korean BBQ and, of course, Korean Street Food.
For Koreans, food is important. They prepare and consume healthy food to provide nourishment for the body. Food also plays a big role in their culture; they have food that is eaten and served during important celebrations and occasions.
The history of Buddhism in Korea explains so much about the variety of vegetable dishes and side dishes in Korean cuisine. They are also fond of eating meat, which explains why many Korean BBQ restaurants in South Korea and different parts of the world.
Have you ever wondered about the total population of Koreans not just in North Korea and South Korea but also in different parts of the world?
South Korea has a total population of 51,329,899 as of April 2022. It is a 0.05% increase from 2021.
North Korea's current population is 25,978,443 as of April 2022. It is a 0.4% increase from 2021.
The total population of Koreans in other Korean diaspora is 7,493,587 as of 2019. This group includes both descendants of early emigrants from Korea and more recent emigrants from Korea. The regions with significant populations are the US having 2,546,982 people, and China, with 2,461,386 people.
Koreans are indeed one of a kind. They have lots of characteristics and traditions that are unique to them. Here are some facts about Koreans. If you wanna learn more facts about Koreans, there's a separate blog about it.
You have learned so much about the people in Korea. But, this blog is not completed if we don't talk about the famous Korean people in different fields like sports, entertainment, and more.
The Korean wave has reached different parts of the world. Because of this, there are lots of Korean that have been known and recognized worldwide. Here are some Korean people who are known in different fields.
Have you watched the 2022 Grammy Awards? Even if you did not, you'd probably come across the trending scene between Olivia Rodrigo and BTS's Taehyung. It made all the BTS fans crazy and jealous of Olivia Rodrigo.
Indeed, BTS or Bangtan Boys is one of the most successful boy groups in South Korea. BTS members are Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook. BTS is an award-winning boy band. One of their greatest hits is 'Dynamite,' 'Butter,' and 'Permission To Dance.' These hits made them known and recognized in the world. Their fans are called ARMY.
'BLACKPINK in your area.' If you sang it instead of reading it, you already have an idea about BLACKPINK. This girl group from South Korea comprises four members, namely Lisa, Jisoo, Jennie, and Rosé. BLACKPINK's fans are called Blinks. Some of their famous songs are 'How You Like That,' 'Kill This Love,' 'Ice Cream,' and 'DDU-DU DDU-DU.'
If you have ever tried the Tiktok challenged 'What Is Love?', you might be familiar with the girl group from South Korea called TWICE. They are the great girl group behind the songs 'I Can't Stop Me,' Like 'Ooh-Ahh,' 'Scandal,' and 'Dance The Night Away.'
The official name of TWICE's fandom is 'Once' because if fans love the group even once, the girl group will repay them with twice their love. The group comprises nine members, namely Jihyo, Nayeon, Sana, Mina, Jeongyeon, Momo, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu.
EXO is another boy band formed in South Korea that debuted in 2012. They originally had twelve members: Xiumin, Luhan, Kris, Suho, Lay, Baekhyun, Chen, Chanyeol, D.O., Tao, Kai, and Sehun. The group lost three of its members, Kris, Luhan, and Tao.
On the other hand, Lay recently announced his departure from SM Entertainment.
The award-winning group is known for releasing Korean, Mandarin, and Japanese songs. Some of their hit songs are Love Shot, Call Me Baby, Monster, The Eve, Don't Fight The Feeling, Ko Ko Bop, and Lotto. EXO's collective fanbase is called 'EXO-L' is the collective, and the individual fans are called 'Stars/Aeris.'
Most K-drama fans know her as Jang Man-wol in the K-drama Hotel Del Luna. Lee Ji-Eun, or as we know her IU, is a singer and actress from South Korea. Some of her famous songs are Drama, 'LILAC,' 'Celebrity,' 'Eight,' 'This Right Now,' 'BBIBBI,' and 'Blueming.'
She starred in the movies like Broker, Dream, Persona, and Shades Of The Heart. For K-dramas, she has 'Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo,' 'Dream High,' 'You Are The Best!,' 'My Mister,' and an upcoming drama called 'Money Game.'
Give me a high five if the name Big Boss and Vicenzo. Song Joong-ki is an award-winning Korean actor that starred in hit K-drama series like 'Descendants of the Sun,' 'The Innocent Man,' 'Vincenzo,' 'My Fair Lady,' and a lot more. He was married to his Song Hye-kyo, his lady in Descendants of the Sun, and eventually divorced after two years.
Song Hye-kyo is the other half of the Song-Song couple. She is one of the OG Korean actresses that most K-drama fans know. She appeared and starred in many K-dramas like 'Wedding Dress,' 'Full House,' 'Descendants of the Sun,' 'Now,' 'We Are Breaking Up,' 'Encounter,' and 'The Glory.' In her long and successful career, she has gained lots of awards she deserves.
Let's talk about this award-winning and multi-talented Korean actor, Park Bo-gum. He is known for his good manners and talent for singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments. What's special about him is that he is fluent in English which not everyone can do.
He has recently just returned from his military service. You might have known him with his K-drama series like 'Record of Youth,' 'Encounter,' 'Love in the 'Moonlight,' and the famous 'Reply 1988.' He also appeared in Itaewon Class as the handsome chef during the last episode.
When we talk about Korean actors, Park Seo-Joon's name should never be missed. He's the Korean actor behind Park Sae-Ro-Yi in 'Itaewon Class,' Lee Young-Joon in What's Wrong With Secretary Kim, Ko Dong-Man in 'Fight for My Way,' Ji Sung-Joon in She Was Pretty, and more.
He also made a cameo on 'Record of Youth' as Song Min-Su. But, what's more, interesting about him is that he will be starring in an American superhero film Marvel.
Crash Landing On You fans rejoiced when Hyun-Bin and his CLOY leading lady, Son Ye-jin, got married last the 31st day of March 2022. Hyun Bin is also one of the Korean OG actors that every K-drama fan knows.
He appeared in several movies and series, but the most notable is 'Secret Garden,' 'My Name Is Kim Sam-soon,' 'Memories of the Alhambra,' 'The Snow Queen,' and 'Crash Landing On You.'
Of course, we know Son Ye-Jin as Se-ri in Crash Landing On You and Hyun-Bin's wife. She did a lot of Korean dramas and movies, which led her to get her awards. Some of these K-dramas are, and movies are 'The Last Princess,' 'Something in the Rain,' 'Thirty-Nine,' and of course, 'Crash Landing On You.' She did more movies than K-dramas.
Are you in Team Good Boy in the K-drama Start-Up? Well, who wouldn't love Kim Seon-ho? After her two consecutive K-dramas Start-Up and Hometown Cha-cha-cha, he became well known and admired by many fans, especially women. He also starred in 'Run On,' 'Find Me in Your Memory,' 'Welcome to Waikiki 2,' 'Catch The Ghost,' and more.
Let's take a break from the entertainment industry and let's discover some famous Koreans in the field of sports. Hyun-jin Ryu is a professional baseball pitcher from South Korea who now pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball.
Another Korean that brings honor to his country is Song Heung-min. Son Heung-min became the first Asian player in the Premier League to score 50 goals. Son Heung-min is a South Korean professional footballer. He captains the South Korean national team and plays as a forward for Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.
In the field of skating, Yuna Kim is Korea's treasure. She won the gold medal, making her the first South Korean figure skater to win an Olympic medal in any discipline. Although she's already retired, she still serves as an inspiration for younger skaters nowadays.
'Annyeonghaseyo,' 'Oppa,' 'Jinja?,' 'Mianhe.' These are just a few Korean words that you might have learned from watching K-dramas. But, we all know that if you wanna learn Korean and talk to the Koreans, you'll need to learn more than that.
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