Extra! Korea

May 20, 2009

Have Koreans’ faces and bodies changed?

Filed under: pseudoscience, science — extrakorea @ 6:19 am

According to the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards, Koreans’ faces and bodies have changed in the past three decades since 1979.

Overall, heads have become rounder, chins narrower, the mid-facial area longer, and cheekbones less prominent.

Body shapes are also transformed. The average height of men in their 20s is now 173.2 cm, up 6 cm from 1979. As for women, the average height is 160 cm, up 4.5 cm from 30 years ago. In 1979, men were over 10 cm shorter than Westerners, but now Korean men are just 5.3 cm and Korean women are 5.5 cm shorter than Americans.

I’m not surprised that they’re taller, since they eat better. I wonder what could be causing their heads to change shape. And I’m surprised that there are people measuring Koreans’ heads. What could be the purpose of these kinds of studies?

According to the study, both Korean men and women are now about seven heads tall. The history of Korean fashion shows men during the ancient Three Kingdoms Period were 5.9 heads tall, during the Chosun Dynasty 6.4, in 1979 6.8, and now 7.4. Women were 5.8 heads tall during the Three Kingdoms Period and are now 7.2 heads tall.

The Three Kingdoms period?! They have actual records about these kinds of things? Were people from all three kingdoms 5.9/5.8 heads tall, or were people from Koguryeo proportioned differently from those from Shilla or Paekje?


  1. Measurement could have been conducted from skeletal remains as well as any remaining worn artifacts. I’m not sure about the mid-face length or anything, but the shape of my skull itself is rounder than those of my parents. This is because I slept on my stomach as a baby instead of on my back, which will flatten the back of the skull as it hardens. Sleeping on the stomach causes a higher rate of sids, but my mom hated having a flat skull when growing up because she thought it was ugly, so she made sure that I didn’t have one. lol.

    Comment by fchoi — May 20, 2009 @ 5:14 pm

    • I’ve heard quite a few Koreans talk about how the backs of their heads were flattened by sleeping on the floor as children. Western babies also sleep on their backs, but on beds or in cribs, which are soft. Korean babies sleep on the floor because of the nice ondol heating system.

      Comment by extrakorea — May 21, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

  2. Nutrition has a great deal to do with it.

    Comment by Bwe — May 22, 2009 @ 12:59 am

  3. […] information. In the meantime, for more discussion of that and other related issues, see here and here, and let me highlight Sonagi’s point that “Nutrition can explain changes in bone and […]

    Pingback by Korean Feminist Reader: May 25 2009 « The Grand Narrative — May 24, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

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