Century ago, Koreans were 12 cm shorter

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Century ago, Koreans were 12 cm shorter

Korean adults who lived during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) were significantly shorter on average than today’s generation, a medical study released yesterday suggests.

According to the first nationwide study on the height of Koreans including Joseon-era forefathers, average heights of both male and female adults have increased by 12.9 centimeters (5 inches) and 11.6 centimeters, respectively, over the past century.

The study estimated the average height of Koreans who lived during the Joseon era at 161.1 centimeters for men and 148.9 centimeters for women.

In comparison, 174 centimeters and 160.5 centimeters were the average heights for each gender measured in 2010 by the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards, affiliated with the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

The study calculated the Joseon-era heights based on the size of thighbones extracted from the remains of 116 adults from the 15th through 19th centuries. The same calculation method is widely used in Japan and is believed to be the most precise way of measuring height from remains, according to the study team led by Hwang Young-il and Shin Dong-hun, anatomy professors of Seoul National University’s College of Medicine.

The study also showed that the average height of Koreans barely changed from the early 15th century till the late 19th century but began to rise sharply from the early 20th century as the country modernized and industrialized.

“Nutritional conditions, diseases and other hygienic elements appear to be the main factors for the shorter average height of Koreans during the Joseon era,” Hwang said. “It is a widely accepted theory in eubiotics that one stays short if his or her caloric intake is insufficient.” Yonhap

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