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Koreans’ head size grew drastically after national liberation
  • By Marian Chu
  • Published 2018.08.13 16:28
  • Updated 2018.08.13 16:28
  • comments 0

New research is showing that the skull size of Koreans grew larger after the nation’s liberation from the Japanese colonial rule in 1945, thanks to proper nutrition and a more stable economy.

Professor Rhyu Im-joo of Korea University College of Medicine

Koreans born in the 1970s has cranial cavity 90 milliliters larger than those born in the 1930s on average, the research said. This shows Korea experienced drastic historical shifts from the decades-long Japanese occupation to fast-paced growth not only in economy, lifestyle and culture but head size as well, it added.

The research team led by Professor Rhyu Im-joo from the Department of Anatomy at Korea University College of Medicine studied 115 people who were in their 1930s and 1970s by running magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and reconstructing them into three-dimensional images.

"Because brain size can be measured by the volume of the cranium and the skull, it has been regarded as an important index not only in anthropology but also in brain science and evolutionary anthropology," Professor Rhyu said. "The study results prove that head size and appearance change with economic changes."

These are 3-D models of two cranial cavities of males born in the 1930 and the 1970s

Morphological changes of the skull were also noted in the Western society following the industrial revolution in the first and second generations of the period where industrialization and urbanization took place rapidly.

In Korea, these changes occurred relatively quickly within 40 years of national liberation, the college said. The reason is those born in the 1930s were socially and financially oppressed and suffered from a lack of nutrition. In comparison, Koreans in the 1970s had relative social and economic stability, suggesting they had adequate food for growth.

"It seems changes in citizens' physical appearance began with the supply of proper nutrition as the society became stabilized and economic growth started in the 1970s,” he added.

The study was published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology under the title of “Changes in intracranial volume and cranial shape in modern Koreans over four decades.”


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