Why Are Koreans Tall? Unexpected Reason Behind Why Koreans Are Taller!

by Jih Yun

What began as a radical nutritional change could have now turned into a society obsessed with height. Keep reading to find out why are Koreans tall.

There is no hard data to back all the deductions in this article, but everything that there is in this piece is from thorough research and skeptical observation. 

korean tips to grow taller

Before you start thinking this article is ridiculous, let’s get some scientific data in place. The average height of Korean men in the 17th century was 161.1 centimeters and for Korean women, it was 148.9 centimeters.

Jump to 2010 — the average height of Korean men is now 174 centimeters. The Korean women are leggy and as tall as 160.5 centimeters. About 10-14 whole centimeters! This research, conducted in 2010, was backed by the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards. The institute is affiliated with the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

People of the younger generation are much taller than the ones that fall into the ‘older’ category.  

There is one common question dangling in the minds of every middle aged person in Korea — “ Wow, what didn’t I eat as a child?”

Why Are Koreans So Tall

Nature Vs Nurture — What Makes Koreans Taller?

Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind is genetics, how else can you prove something intangible. Something that has been cause for all of us to blame all the shortcomings in ourselves. “I’m not tall because my parents are short”. But as you can see from the data, the kids of the 1990s suddenly shot up, all taller than their parents. No — they were not fed special food.

But yes, this does prove that nurturing played just as huge a role in Koreans becoming taller than they were in the 17th century. Let’s take the popular notion — Europeans are taller than Asians. We could easily attribute the tropical and geographical characteristics and everything physical to this deduction. 

But then the scientists noticed that South Koreans and North Koreans, despite being neighbours, had a huge difference in height and other features alike. It didn’t make sense. They are basically the same and they haven’t experienced immigration in many centuries. Here’s where the nurture over nature argument comes in. 

A certain professor of Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, Mr. Daniel Schwekendiek managed to study the heights of the refugees from North Korea when they crossed into the South. His findings suggested a height difference of 3 cm, Northerners shorter than the other. This difference was even more obvious in the children.

In an interview conducted amongst some of the more opinionated children in school, we received some food for thought. We asked them what they thought was the reason for Europeans to be taller than Koreans.

First of all, she seemed to think that it was a huge stereotype. That statement only seemed relevant up until World War II. The second factor she mentioned was the diet. Europeans have a meat heavy diet whereas the Koreans have a vegetable centric diet. The nutrition gained from meat was much more contributing than vegetables. 

When she was probed for an opinion on North Koreans’ heights, she said, nutritional food is expensive and it is not easy for North Koreans to afford good food on a regular basis.

This particular fact was actually verified by Mr. Martin Bloem, the then Nutrition head of the World Food Programme. His team led food drives that helped provide aid and food to North Koreans back in 1995. From his findings, he noted that lack of proper nutrition in earlier stages caused stunted growth. This is the disparity between the North and the South. The South, at this point, experienced rapid economic growth, which, as crazy as it sounds, led to height development.

Coming back to the interview, the girl brought in a third factor. Sleep and hard work. They went hand in hand in student life. Koreans naturally had to study more and stayed up for longer hours. Even as a working person, the job demands long hours, in contrast to the European countries. So while Koreans are tall, if there are ones that aren’t, you know why.

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Who knew that the economic situation of a country could play a huge role in the height of its people? The current studies suggest that the average height amongst Koreans is rising but that remains quite unchanged in the Western countries.

korean growth secrets

In a nutshell, researchers attribute nutrition, sleep, industrialization and the increase in welfare and wellbeing as contributing factors for the risen average height amongst Koreans in the 19th century. This was not limited to just Korea. It was also a widespread and scientifically accepted phenomenon in Europe and the US. Of course, on a  smaller scale, between families, genetics also play a huge role.

Heightism in Korea

Just like racism or sexism in any country, Korea is a victim of something called ‘heightism’. There isn’t a single event you can point out to which could have caused heightism to exist in the first place, but it sure became a rampant discriminatory phenomenon when a young female university student said something.

why are korean male actord tall

In 2009, a female student remarked that any male shorter than the height of 180 centimetres is a loser at the Global Talk Show. Of course, these led to many protests, but in the minds of the women and the tall men of Korea, a short man was after all a loser. There were many self-deprecating jokes about this.

The rampantness was appalling. People lost jobs because of not having a desirable height. They were not even considered for the position. Employers asked for details of the height and weight of men. This led to huge protests and the filing of bills. After a much distraught fight, the Equal Employment Opportunity and Work-Family Balance Assistance Act was approved in 2020, preventing employers from relying on ‘lookism’ to recruit employees.

In fact, one of the main reasons why someone became a victim of bullying in high school in Korea was if they were short.

The height as a Social Advantage in Korean

Naturally, those that were seen as tall were automatically given a social advantage in Korean society. They would be called successful, the pride of the family.

For more coveted occupations like that of movie stars and anything on the silver scream, people with smaller heights don’t stand a chance. That doesn’t lie completely true for the older generation although.

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The heights Koreans go to get the “height”

Seeing as it is deemed to be an advantage, height is a desirable thing in Korea. Everyone wants to be tall. It is, can I say amusingly shocking, to see the heights people would go to to get the height that is socially acceptable.

average korean height by age

From a young age, parents start worrying about their children’s heights. At 10, they can possibly tell whether or not their cold is going to be tall. They resort to pop-in-after-breakfast pediatric and dietary supplements that “apparently” help with height. There are no proven records.

In their defence, they don’t want their child to be the next victim of heightism. So instead of shooting someone like the mafia would, they shoot their child up with growth hormone injections.

Let me give you a ballpark figure of how much these growth hormone injections matter in Korea. The market size for these is 100 billion won. That’s about 87.5 million USD. In addition to that, the market for pediatric growth supplements also saw a huge rise. From being just 6.7 billion won in 2017, it shot up to 20.7 billion won in 2018. 

korean food to become tall

For less expensive alternatives, people prefer over-the-counter health supplements. They are easier to come by as well. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety had identified multiple false advertising cases and called them out. Upon probing, it was found that these meds were tested on animals, not humans, and had no record of them actually working.

That’s not all. There are influencers at work. They advocate the use of Japanese seaweed calcium tablets that supposedly help Koreans become tall. Mind you, these are not checked by the authorities. Neither is the Ten Ten tablet sold by Hanmi Pharmaceutical. Both of them are only sold at smaller pharmaceuticals because they are not medically approved. 

So Koreans are tall, but at what cost? (literally)

What is “Korean Manner Legs”?

Believe it or not, there is a certain manner taller men are expected to stand when they’re talking to people shorter than them. In simple words, because they’re so tall, stooping can be difficult and shorter people having to look up to them can also seem tough on the neck. 

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To combat that, the tall people of Korea stand in a stance that is a sort of semi-split. They spread their legs apart, one inch at a time and finally reach a position that is comfortable with the person with them.

This manner is captured among celebrities quite often. Male Korean actors are often so much taller than their female counterparts. To fit in the same frame, they often assume the “manner legs” stance. The same goes when they’re on set for touch-ups between scenes. 

It’s not limited to men though. Some women are super leggy, models and actors alike.

Koreans’ most searched queries are “Korean Tips to Grow Taller”

Seeing the state of Korea, I wasn’t surprised that this made it to the top of the list. Korean tips to grow taller. If it’s any silver lining, at least they seemed reasonable.

  • Check your nutrition
  • Work on spinal correction
  • Get your supplements

Korean Tips To Grow Taller

There are many Korean tips to help people grow taller, but the most important thing is to have a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.

Korean traditional medicine has long been known for its ability to promote healthy growth in children and adults. This medicinal practice uses herbs, minerals, vitamins, and other natural ingredients to treat a variety of health conditions.

One of the main methods used here is acupuncture, which is believed to stimulate tallness through the flow of energy throughout the body. Acupuncture also helps relieve pain and improve blood circulation.
If you’re looking for ways to make yourself taller, incorporating some traditional Korean techniques into your routine can be very helpful. And remember – always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new regimen!

Also, some other things to try include eating plenty of protein and vitamins, getting enough sleep, and exercise. You can also try some traditional Korean remedies, such as jangseungmyun (a type of soup made from fermented soybeans), doenjang (vegetarian marinated cabbage served cold with miso paste), or gimchi (cabbage Kimchi). These foods contain properties that promote growth and health in the body.

How tall is tall in Korea?

Finally, eh? This is one of the most asked questions everywhere. Just being of average height doesn’t make you tall. You simply get a free pass. You’ll only be considered tall in Korean for a man if you’re 6 feet (182 cm) or taller, and if you’re a woman, you have to be 5’6 (168 cm) or taller.

Are Korean taller than Indians

There are many myths and misconceptions about different groups of people, and this includes Koreans and Indians. Some people believe that Koreans are taller than Indians, while others believe the opposite is true.

In reality, there is no definitive answer to this question – it depends on a variety of factors, including genetics and lifestyle. It’s also worth noting that there is a significant population of Koreans living in the United States, which would make them taller than average Americans.

So, while the answer to this question may be inconclusive, it’s still an interesting topic to explore!

Are taller people considered more attractive in Korea

It is a fact that tall people tend to receive more attention and be considered more attractive, and this is especially true in Korea. In Korea, tall people are seen as superior, having a number of advantages including being seen as more attractive, successful, and confident.

People may be a bit intimidated when speaking with someone who is notably tall, and usually have feelings of admiration and respect for individuals of a taller stature.

Being tall has primarily been a symbol of physical and social superiority in Korea. This preference for taller people has been a societal standard in Korea for some time now, and it still exists today. The average height for men in Korea is around 171 cm, and for women it is around 158 cm.

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Those who are taller than the average, especially for their age group, are seen as desirable. Not surprisingly, taller men and women often stand out in social gatherings and have been historically more likely to be pursued and found desirable by their peers.

Korea is a highly Westernized society, and in the West, tall people are often seen as attractive and successful. Famous Hollywood celebrities can measure up to 6 feet in height, and the vast majority of movie stars and singers tend to be quite tall. This has naturally influenced the perception of attractive people in Korea and all around the world.

People who are taller in Korea are more likely to be seen as attractive; this notion has been deeply ingrained into Korean culture for centuries. People have been found to have stronger feelings of attraction and desire for those who have greater height. They also tend to have more confident IQs, due to their height, thereby boosting their own self-esteem, which is often a very desirable trait.

It is therefore not surprising that many Koreans find taller people to be especially attractive and desirable. People who are tall may be more likely to succeed in school, career, or anything they put their minds to, since their height can be an advantage and a signal of strength, intelligence, and success to others.

As a result of this tall people preference, there exists a sizeable market in Korea for height increasing garments, special shoes, and dietary supplements, all marketed for increasing height in half the time directed by medical professionals. It is clear that Koreans are becoming increasingly aware of their height and trying to find ways to increase it, in order to better succeed in life and increase their attractiveness.

So, are taller people considered more attractive in Korea? The answer is yes – tall people are seen as more attractive and successful in Korea, a country that has a strong preference for taller people that has been held for many centuries. Koreans have been trying to find ways to increase their height in order to stay competitive in a society where taller people get more attention, more admiration, and more benefits.

Why Are Koreans Tall?: FAQs

Why are Korean so tall? 

Compared with North Korea, South Koreans are taller than their counterparts. As a result, South Koreans consumed more protein and had a full complement of vitamins and nutrients, whereas the North Koreans had to sustain themselves with ‘food substitutes’, such as grass – literally grass. Asian males on average are three centimetres taller than their Japanese counterparts, making them the tallest nationality in East Asia. According to the Korean Times, the average height of Korean women is 2.5 centimetres more than the average height of Japanese women.

Why are South Koreans the tallest people in Asia? 

Research is being done in South Korea to answer why the new generation is taller than the previous generations. Researchers have found that nutrition and exercise are among the most important factors in controlling height. Traditional Japanese foods are still held dear and western foods are not very popular with Japanese. South Koreans eat similar cuisine to the Japanese and are also taller than previous generations. Koreans are particularly fond of supplements containing vitamins and proteins. As well, it is more likely genetic based on the fact that lifestyle and nutrition are not that different, except for the slight difference in cuisine.

Why are South Koreans getting significantly taller? 

There are several reasons for this, including greater wealth, better health care, higher standards of living, and more food availability. Previous generations lacked access to the resources necessary to live a healthier life. This results in taller kids, because they’re better nourished and healthier. Simply put, better nutrition is the solution. People of small stature still dominated the population until the early 2000s. 
Fortunately, the younger generation has never had a scarcity of anything, and has always been able to eat more than enough. Now we know Koreans are not as short as everyone thought, because they are realizing their physical growth potential.

Why are Korean girls tall?

Men’s heights average 173 centimeters and women’s heights average 161 centimeters by age group, with men in their 20s and 30s having the tallest heights. The fixation with height that Koreans have has been brought to light by the comment of a university student on the Korean program “Global Talk Show” in 2009. In Korea, but also everywhere else, people experience obsession with tallness and social discrimination because of it.There is a constant debate regarding the perils of heightism. Nutrition and the environment are two major factors contributing to the growth in height.

If nothing else Koreans might be so tall, simply because a lot of plastic surgery is available to them to help them grow taller.

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