I actually read an article this evening claiming you couldn’t tell the difference. They claimed that Japanese and Koreans are identical physically, but they aren’t. Physically, there are characteristics that I can see, and I have been around both races a lot. Yes, there are some who could pass for the other race just as I can pass for Hispanic when I am not Hispanic at all, but the Koreans and the Japanese have difference ancestors. The Koreans are part Mongolian and part Chinese. From ancient times, their history also suggests that they are part middle eastern. There are things they do to themselves in the modern age that set them apart from Japanese too. The Japanese are of Chinese and Polynesian decent. The thing that makes the Japanese and the Korean similar is the Chinese that is in both races. Also, when Bekjae, one of the three kingdoms of Korea was conquered by the others, many people from Korea mixed with the Japanese, but not so many that they changed the whole look of the race. Something that could have changed the look of the race came from China. At one point in time, there was a noble man in China that was so disgusted with the royal family and how things were going in China that he rounded up all the best looking Chinese he could find and took them to Japan, thousands of China’s best looking people. The Bekjae from Korea were also know for being nice looking, so Japan got a couple of “good looking” shots. into their DNA. However, some of those Bekjae stayed in Korea and mixed with the people from Shilla and Goreyeo, the people who were Mongolian, Chinese, and middle eastern.
The modern Koreans have darker skin than the modern Japanese, but I have learned that the Japanese are letting themselves tan more than they used to. After spending lots of time in Japan, I was invited to teach in Korea, and it hit me like I was slapped in the face when I looked out over a crowd of children in a Korean classroom that the Koreans are darker than the Japanese. The Koreans fight hard not to get tans. They have special sleeves that are separate from their clothing to keep their arms from getting sun in the summer. I was surprised because I also thought there wasn’t any difference. It also hit me like a slap in the face that the Koreans are larger than the Japanese. However, some of the Japanese are getting bigger. Regardless, if you look at the women in K-Pop and J-Pop, the J-Pop artists look like little kids compared to the K-Pop artists. They are noticeably shorter. Many Korean women look like little girls compared to the women of the west, but the Japanese look like little girls compared to the girls in Korea. It goes further than the skin color and the height.
If you look at a Korean face and a Japanese face, there are noticeable differences too. Many Koreans have what we call in the west “a button nose.” A button nose is a cute little nose we think of something babies and little kids have, and many Koreans have them too, even the adults. The Japanese noses are straighter than the Korean noses. For the most part, the Japanese noses are not button noses. The Japanese noses are mostly small, but thin noses. The Koreans also have different lips than the Japanese. In America, we often think of the babies and children as having what we call “rose bud” mouths. They are pudgy lips that are red and look like a rose. That is what many Korean’s mouths look like. The Japanese don’t have that rose bud mouth that the Koreans have. They have thinner lips like the whites. In fact, I have noticed that more often, that stereo type oriental that we think of in the west of having bucked teeth, that is found more often in Japan than in Korea. The Japanese girls are very petite and feminine looking, and so are the Korean girls, but I am 5′ 7″, and there are Korean girls who tower over me, but they are also much smaller than I am in other ways. The Koreans have smaller or less muscles in their arms and legs than the people in the west. I know Koreans who actually diet saying, “We aren’t supposed to be big. We are orientals, and orientals are supposed to be small.” The Koreans struggle trying not to get big. The Japanese have become rounder in recent times. The generation in Japan now has grown up with McDonald’s, and you can tell. It made a few, but not many a little taller, and it made several chubbier than their parents. The Japanese and Koreans both are taller in this generation than the generation before them. I have been around both groups of people a long time, and I see it. There are also more older people with bowed legs than younger ones in both countries because they are using more and more chairs and sitting in the floor less and less. The older people in Japan and Korea stunted the growth of their legs by sitting on their legs, and more so among Japanese women. The Japanese women have a proper way to sit in the floor that just isn’t good for their legs, and they may sit that way for hours. There are more Koreans who sit American Indians style, and it is better for their legs. It is also better that the younger ones in both countries are using chairs. It lets their legs have freedom and grow.
There is also something else going on in Korea that makes them different. Parents in Korea are afraid of sugar. They are also afraid of wheat flour. Many will not give those things to their children thinking it is healthier for them. If someone has been raised by an over anxious Korean mother, they may have bodies that didn’t quite mature as much as their heads. These mothers unwittingly stunt their kid’s growth. I have seen it happen again and again. You see, Korea didn’t always have sugar, and the older people really found sugar hard to accept when they got it. They also think of wheat flour as something foreign.The Koreans were cut off from the rest of the world longer than the Japanese, and it shows in the attitudes of the people. I know one young man who was so small as a child. He just wasn’t growing at all. He had a skin problem, and his mother was convinced she could control the skin problem by not feeding him certain things, and she was unwittingly stunting his growth. When he was in middle school, he wasn’t any bigger than a first grader, and it worried his parents, so they took him to the doctor, and the doctor told his mother she was going to have to go ahead and let him eat. When he was finally able to eat, he shot up twice the height of his father, but he is extremely skinny and can’t seem to put any weight on. He didn’t develop right when he was small because he wasn’t fed enough. It happens again and again in Korea because of mothers who are scared of flour and sugar in Korea. Besides this, the Japanese eat more rice than the Koreans. The Koreans eat kimchee that is full of chili spice. Chili spice kills your appetite so you don’t want to eat any more. I often wonder how big Koreans could actually get if they would stop eating kimchee and let themselves eat more rice, bread, and sugar because they are already one of the larger oriental groups.
You see, there is a difference between the Koreans and the Japanese physically. I have been around both groups for many years. Sometimes, you can find one who could pass for the other race, but for the most part, they are very different physically. They are very different in other ways too like how they express themselves, the way they think, the reasons why they do things, the way they dress, etc. From the outside, they look the same to people who don’t know, but they are actually very different.