Physical anthropological features of the shape of Korean heads


The shape of heads is one of formal factors that show physical anthropological features of a nation most vividly. Because a head is known as a part of our body that is the least influenced by the environment, unlike a trunk, arms and legs which are affected a lot by the surrounding environment.
Ways of expressing the shape of a head are roughly divided into observation of living bodies and observation of skulls and divided again into measuring and non-measuring methods. Using the measuring method, they measure the distance between several measuring points on living bodies or skulls and calculate related indexes, and then sort the shape. Using the non-measuring method, they watch such morphological characteristics of living bodies as the color and shape of hairs, direction of the outer corner of eyes, existence and nonexistence of double-edged eyelids, the shape of a nose, protrusion degree of lips and the shape of ears, that can't be measured; and in the case of skulls, they examine the frequency of morphological changes.
After Avid mentioned, for the first time, studies of the shape of heads of modern Korean people in 1867, they were conducted by foreign scholars mainly before the 1940s. And researches by Korean scholars are being actively conducted after the Liberation and recently.
According to findings achieved so far, physical anthropological features of the shape of a Korean head are as follows;

a restored face - a man in the 1930s a restored face - a woman in the 1930s
  1. Comparing the length between its front and rear and the width between its right and left, we put it into the 'short head type'.
    Caused by the small length between the front and rear of a head, the 'short head type' is an important feature of the shape of Korean heads. There are several nations which have the 'short head type' in Central Asia, but their type is caused by the big width between its right and left; the formative factor is different from ours.
  2. Comparing the height of a head and the length between its front and rear, we put it into the 'high head type'. The 'high head type' of Korean people bigger than that of neighboring countries in the aspects of absolute numerical values both of head height and the length between the front and rear. The index compared with the length is the highest in the world. It is the center of groups of the 'high head type' in Northeastern Asia and over 90% of our nation belong to the 'high head type'.
  3. Other features; the face belongs to the 'middle face type' close to the oval type, and the nose - the 'middle nose type', considering nose length and nose width.

These features compared with the skulls and shapes of residents of Northeastern Asia are as follows;

Comparison of the skull shapes of people in the Korean peninsula and the Northeastern Asia

  Korea Manchuria Mongolia China Japan
Head index Short type Short type Short type Middle type Middle type
Head height
-length index
High type High type Middle type Middle type Middle type
Head height
-width index
High type High type Low type Middle type Middle type
Face index Middle type Narrow type Middle type Mixed Mixed
Nose index Middle type Middle type Middle type Middle type Middle type

Methods measuring skulls of people

Head index (width between the right and left of a head / length between the front and rear of a head) x 100
Head height - length index (head height / length between the front and rear of a head) x 100
Head height - width index (head height / width between the right and left of a head) x 100
Upper face index (upper face height / face width) x 100
Nose index (nose width / nose length) x 100

As the result of the above, we can see that our nation has such features as the short head type, the high head type, the middle face type and the middle nose type, comparing modern peoples in the aspect of physical anthropology. But the features are hardly regarded as morphological characteristics that ancestry who lived in the Korean peninsula from the Old Stone Age formed into a "unitary nation" without any influence of outside. As mentioned above, these morphological features of our nation are guessed to be completed in the Bronze Age along with an inflow of the northern factors in the New Stone Age. Unique characters of Korean people formed after the Bronze Age seem to be kept up to now without remarkable changes in that the 'high head type' among these morphological features is more distinct than other countries around and the spread of the 'short head type' reveals few regional differences all over the Korean peninsula. But we have no bone fossil of the New Stone Age found in the central and southern areas of the Korean peninsula, so relationship of peoples who lived in those areas and in Manchuria and the northern area of Korean peninsula is not found out exactly; I think that it's a problem to be solved in the future.

measuring points and methods of a skull
1. width between the right and left of a head
2. length between the front and rear of a head
3. head height
4. face width
5. upper face height
6. nose width
7. nose height