Chinese? Japanese? Korean? How to Tell the Differences?

If you are Asian like myself, I am sure that there was some point in your life you were mistaken as one of the three cultures – Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. Caucasian friends of mine have always told me that we look, talk, speak, and think the same. Aside from that, sometimes our similarity in traditions and cultures could confuse people too. There might be some truth to that, but apparently, we’re different in ways. The following are some differences that you can take note of. Some does not apply to ALL Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, but however, I hope it can help you a little for distinguishing.


(Chinese Korean, Korean Chinese, Japanese)

  1. The Language. All I hear is Ching Chong Chung.
    This really made me laugh when my housemate told me that. That’s all the sounds he hears from my entire conversation (which was in Cantonese – a dialect of Chinese). However Ching Chong Chung does resembles Cantonese, but it does not apply to Japanese, Korean, or Mandarin. Languages of the oriental nations does derives from a single or similar origin, but throughout millenniums it has diversified. Here’s some example in phonetic for saying “How are you” in each language respectively:

    Chinese (Cantonese) – Nay Ho Ma?
    Chinese (Mandarin) – Ni Hao Ma?
    Japanese ——— Ogenki desu ka?
    Korean ———– Ahn-nyong-ha-se-yo?

  2. Bowing as a Custom.
    The Japanese might have been known for bowing more than any other Asian countries. Although not as formal as the Japanese, the Chinese and Korean also bow – either for respect, death, or apologies. In modern China, handshake is more likely to be used than bowing. However, the opposite for Japanese. Korean also bow as a greet to upperclassmen or elders.
  3. Eating Rice.
    One interesting that I learned from my Japanese and Korean friends were that we “eat” rice differently. I don’t mean we cook it differently, we make it all the same – with a rice cooker! :) What I meant was how we put it in our mouth. The Chinese usually picks up the rice bowl and scoop rice into their mouth with a chopstick (used like a spoon). The Japanese picks up their bowl and “picks” rice bit by bit with their chopsticks, without having their mouth on their bowls. They find “scooping” to be impolite. The Korean “pick” rice like the Japanese, but does not lift up their bowl. I am not sure if this is true, but I am sure there is some truth to it.
  4. Chinese has Slanted Eyes, Korean has Rounder Faces, and Japanese are shorter.
    Although some of it might apply, but I have to say this is a stereotype for years. Eyes varies from different people, so the Chinese can’t possibly be all slanted eyes. There are long faces Korean that I know of. The average height of Japanese have rose over the years. Haha.. However I do find some are true.
  5. Cultures.
    In my opinion, Chinese have lost their cultural heritage since decades ago. You won’t see us Chinese wearing any traditional “Han” clothes anymore, you see jeans! However, this is not the case for the Japanese and Korean as they have their Kimono and Jeogori. As Asia becomes more in connect with the West, this perception is tend to change. Today, we see Japanese fashion becoming more Westernized. So is the Korean – in movies, songs, arts and pop cultures.

The points above are what I see and not really any indication of how to separate the 3 people apart. If you ask me whether I can distinguish between the 3, I would say no either. It is just like asking, “can you distinguish between English, Scottish, or Welsh? Or even American and Canadian? Not really. Well, hope I didn’t bored you! Enjoy!

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44 responses to “Chinese? Japanese? Korean? How to Tell the Differences?

  1. I am not sure if you are Chinese living in mainland or ACB/CBC outside China, but the Han dressing is not very popular in China. As China rises and economic continues to soar, Chinese will pick up their old tradications

  2. Sorry, i mean Han dressing is NOW very popular in China. If you can read Chinese, check out this website about Han clothes
    http://www.hanminzu.com/bbs

  3. Yes, I heard the “Han” clothing is picking back up recently. There are groups trying to reintroduce back the fashion as many have forgotten our beautiful past.

    I was thinking about to write about the clothing some other time too! So feel free to drop by!

  4. On that picture with the three faces, I think you’ve mixed up the “Chinese” and “Korean” faces – they’re the other way around.

  5. Thanks for pointing out my mistakes!
    The mistakes have been fixed :)

  6. they all look the same.
    but, interesting. (:
    well written.

  7. I HATE RICE.

  8. CHO MAMA LIKE RICE.

  9. wow… koreans don’t eat rice with chopsticks. They eat other food with chopsticks, but spoons are used to eat rice

  10. you screwed up on one thing…bowing.

    Japanese and Koreans are known for bowing the most…when meeting people, when thanking someone, when aplogizing, when honoring someone… Matter of fact, in Korean New Years, there is a specific bow you do to your elders….

    Bowing is a custom for Korean and Japanese people…whereas Chinese people dot do it as much…..

    Please fix.

    • The Bowing culture is from China. And bowing is Chinese custom too.
      Chinese people also have specific bow that we should do to elders (Usually Chinese-American don’t do this again), we called it Kowtow or Ketou. It’s basically the same with Korean bow. Because bowing culture is from China. It’s from Confucianism, and Confucius is from China :).
      But It’s true that modern Chinese don’t bow as much as they used to do

  11. i think korean’s eyes the smallest among all oreintal

  12. I can differentiate them just by looking to their eyes.

  13. at the end, you said, scottish, english and wales are similar.

    WHAT!?!?
    i understand ameriacn and canadian being similar but those three?

    most of the time, yes they all speak english, but different sounds are made, the english you will hear pronouncing t’s, scottish is very fast, mostly with rolled r’s and “acch” pronounced at the back of the throat, welsh you will hear a lot of the letter “e”, and they also speak fast.

    sorry, had to get that out of my system

  14. @marnie you fucking idiot..those languages sound familiar to you because YOU SPEAK ENGLISH. If you spoke, say, Chinese, you would easily be able to distinguish between the Japanese, Chinese, and Korean languages from one another.

    sorry, had to get that out of my system

  15. Chinese is a blood-mixing race and there’s no common rules that can apply to Chinese looks. Slanted eyes I believe is a north east Chinese characteristics. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone tell me it is a Manchu characteristics since I’ve never seen slanted eyes in the south. My family is root in FwongDong FoShan 廣東佛山, everyone have a square face, and for men, everyone have a pair of relatively square eyebrows with the upper outer corner standing out (extra long). If you really want to understand the looks of Chinese you need to be more specific about their origin, China>Provinces>Cities>Village, then you may come up with some meaningful outcome. Assuming the great migration of farmers towards city did not occur, you can assume that Northeast Chinese are the mixture of ancient Han and ancient Manchu,hence the slanted eyes (probably?). Inner Mongolian Chinese are the mixture of ancient Han and ancient Mongolian, hence taller (?) Yangtze Southern Chinese (江南)are the mixture of ancient Han and ancient Chu 楚人, and that gives today’s hubei, hunan, Chongcing, anhui,Ziansu,zianxi area. And Finally, Ancient Han plus Ancient baiyue 百越 and gives today GwongDong GwongXi Minnan area.

  16. 1) Chinese. 2) Korean. 3) Okinawan or Southern Part Japanese.
    Chinese: Mixed.
    Koreans: Altaic: Koreans, Mongolians, Manchurian ( Kansai Japanese), Asian Turkish look very similiar.
    Japanese: Mixed between Koreans and Ainu.

  17. Chinese, Korea and Japanese are all mixes.

    40% of Korean males have O3 Y gene, which is from China.

    “Japanese: Mixed between Koreans and Ainu.”

    This is not true either. But i know many koreans spread this belief.

  18. omgoodness, that picture sums it up perfectly

  19. LOL… I’m asian myself(chinese to be precise) and i don’t even know da difference. I was asking my friend the other day (she’s Korean) and she was like: “Errr… i don’t know??!!?!?!”

    LOL… one thing i know is that I can’t live without rice…

    I went to camp and I was like: “Where’s the rice… :( LOL”

    The 3 days were a torture :P

  20. step – 1 –
    just say ‘ japan kicked ass in ww2 ‘ and depending on the response you can easily separate the japanese from the other two..
    step-2
    say ‘chinese make crap stuff’ , and the chinese are separated from the koreans.
    guaranteed success.

  21. lol what a funny kunt

    What a funny kunt…. hilarious!

  22. Tigerkitty Cat

    If you want to see enough natural faces in video (since you can’t rely on dramas or music videos or whatever), watch porn. (No you perv, not for the sex) I believe that a lot of those who get into porn (in Asia, derp) don’t usually get surgery done. That’s how I did my study of differentiating their faces.
    (to my great shame LOL)

  23. whoa chinese ppl are hippies

  24. Very good post! It is so great that you pointed out Han Fu, the Chinese Traditional Clothing!
    I love Han Fu! It is beautiful! Even you probably won’t see it on the street, but it is always there! In TV, in traditional wedding at the country, in costume shops, in camera houses, in stage action, etc. I wear them a lot :)

  25. Yeh. Traditionally we(Koreans) are supposed eat rice with spoons and scoop the rice with the spoon but chopsticks are more generally used now… I don’t know why but probably because switching chopsticks to spoons was somewhat annoying or something. However, the fact that we don’t lift our bowls is so true and I think it is the main difference of Korea when we are eating rice.

  26. well I think Japanese are still rooted to the origin Of their culture more well preserved and educated …Chinese are less caring about the old roots and more concentrated about new live styles …so dialect make a difference but their presentation is recognized imitately..and Korean well I still need more orientation

  27. Haha this was funny! Interesting and well-written. I’m an asian of mixed descent, Chinese and Japanese but I get told/mistaken for being Korean about 75% of the time and Vietnamese the rest of the 25%. I NEVER get that I look either of my actual heritages haha so I think that brings home the point you made, that while there are some base points we can work off of, there are exceptions in every type of asian. I am also learning both Japanese and Korean and I want to say there are a lot of similarites, both in the dialect and the cultures. China I am not so sure about, but Korea & Japan are so close they seem to have bridged the little bit of ocean between them and shared their cultures with each other ^^

  28. hmm interesting

  29. if the asian (chinez, japanez, korean) don’t know how to differentiate their races, how much more the other races..hehehe’ it’s quite interesting though..i’m not a westerner neither the races mentioned above but i’m devoting my time to study these 3 races…and i’m happy that i found some useful tips.thanks alot.

  30. You forgot about Hmong, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Alaskan (Eskimo), Laotian, Mongolian, etc, etc

  31. Very insightful! Thanks :)

  32. none of ur bisniss

    i dont care if their chinese korean or japanese, ilook at thier slanted eyes and say areu chinese
    people always slanted eye people as CHINESE
    like tajiki people have slanted eyees too and people would think their chinese

  33. Which ones have the biggest genitals or breasts? I thing breasts from smallest to biggest go Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean then Japanese. My vague opinion and no way science or fact.

  34. If you have, whether it’s a cruise all over L.A. That’s the report given by someone in his single Theraflu. Luckily though, individuals who are infected are completely unaware and can continue transmitting the virus to sex partners. Apparently the joke wore off fast and now she is considering suing the flour bomber.

  35. I cannot tell the difference to me thet almost look similar but thanx for clarity this will really help.

  36. carlin covello

    face 1: chinese, face 2: JAPANESE (i have a japanese friend and her skin is that colour white) face 3: KOREAN. koreans are the darkest of the asian races i am pretty sure. i met a korean kirl once and she looked like number 3 not number 2 AT ALL.

  37. carlin covello

    *girl

  38. The following appear to be general findings:
    1) Koreans are tall, square-faced (high flat cheekbones with square jaws), with small eyes (with single eyelids) and pale faces. Think Frankenstein.
    2) Japanese are short, oval or diamond shaped faces (prominent cheekbones, pointy chins), with large eyes and pale faces. Think Yoda.
    3) Chinese have round faces, and average shaped eyes. Think Buddha.

    Check out this website about Yoda and Japanese:
    http://www.tofugu.com/2009/01/20/learn-japanese-from-yoda/

  39. I always thought among those that Japanese were the tallest. I think 90% of us at least sometimes forget about Kora. Who live in west. It is not on purpose. Chinese food has always been fansinctation of those in usa. I can not say we all enjoy it some do some don’t. Personally it’s bit bland for me but i can eat it. Japan gave us sushi and anime. I am not big fan of sushi i am not big on fish. I am casual anime fan. I am old enough to remember salior moon can’t say i ever understood it but i watched sometimes. I happen to like pokemon anime i am well aware of flaws in both. They were entertiament and still our when i am in mood. And because of growing popularity of sushi we are starting to get hibachi grills it is newest trend from the east to west. We really don’t have Korean food here outside hearing about few of those families making it for themselves. When we do hear about Korea its about north and south Korea fighting or one part wanting to attack us. I have no clue if will ever happen. Japan and China are big deal cause they provide us a lot of stuff. I know their are a lot of differences. I know while might be some similar foods among three culturals outside of rice it is all very different. And now added to my knowledge is you all eat one common food differently. From my understanding Japan only eats non dairy cheese i get it and not often. China has taken likeing to diary cheese and i have no about Korea that’s about all i know off top of head this morning at nearly 5 am on Sunday using bathroom.

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