Korean People - People from South Korea
Origins and ethnicity of Korean people
Koreans call themselves in Korean Hangukin or Hanguk saram. Korean people are an East Asian ethnic group and are believed to be part of the Altaic populations, just like Mongolians, Tungusics and Turkics. Archaeological evidence suggests that Koreans are descendant of Altaic groups coming from South Central Siberia.
Koreans are the world’s most homogenous population ethnically and linguistically. There are few minorities in Korea: some Chinese, Japanese and westerners but in low numbers. So homogenous is the population in Korea that if you are a westerner in Korea you still feel conspicuous and, in smaller towns and villages Koreans will stare at westerners because they are not used to seeing people of different ethnicity.
Korean language is a distinct language, which derives from Altaic languages, thus it is completely different from Japanese and Chinese (although throughout its history Korean was influenced by those two languages) and it has some similarities with Mongolian.
Korean people’s character and values
Korean people are very proud of their nationality and of their identity. Koreans are quite friendly and would do anything to help their friends, as interpersonal relationships are very important in Korean culture. Family as well is of outmost importance for Koreans and so is obedience and respect to elderly people. Age is so important in Korea that even one year difference between two people means that the younger one will have to address the older person with respect. This is why, one of the first things Koreans ask when they meet somebody is their age and asking people’s age in Korea is not disrespectful at all as it is in the west. So, if a Korean person asks you your age, do not feel offended.
This respect for the elderly and value placed on interpersonal relationships comes from Confucianism, a philosophy that arrived in Korea from China. Confucianism permeates Korean culture and mentality in every aspect and if you know Confucianism you will be able to understand a big part of Korean culture.