Population and Distribution:
The Chaoxian ethnic group (also written as 'Korean'), with a total population of 1,923,842 according to the census taken in 2000, is scattered mainly in Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning Provinces. Smaller populations of Chaoxian people live in other areas in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, Beijing, Xi'an and other cities. Members of this minority living in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Perfecture in Jilin Province speak and write in Korean while those living in other parts of China usually speak Chinese.
The ancestors of the present Chaoxian people were immigrants from the Korean Peninsula. When they settled in China they gradually formed unique customs and evolved into a Chinese ethnic group. In the national census of 1982, it was found that the Chaoxian had been living in the Northeast region of China from as early as the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
The Chaoxian ethnic group does not follow one particular religion. While most of them are athiests, some believe in Buddhism, a belief which has influenced Chaoxian life in the past, and others follow Christianity which spread to them from Korea.
The area inhabited by the Chaoxian people is abundant in various resources. Among the main products are rice, timber, beef, precious herbs and flue-cured tobacco. The Yanbian Prefecture is developing especially rapidly.
Rice and millet are the Chaoxian people's staple foods. To these they add piccalilli or spiced pickled vegetables, which are indispensable to their everyday meals. These pickled vegetables provide nutrients and also act as a tonic. The Chaoxian people also like to eat Dagao, sponge cake, cold noodles and capsicum.
On the table, dishes must be placed in particular positions. The spoon and chopsticks should be on the right, rice should be to the left of the soup, and seasonings should be in the middle of the table.
Chaoxian festivals are similar to those of the Han people, and include the Spring Festival, the Pure Brightness Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Day. Besides these, they have three important days which are celebrated in their families - a baby's one-year birthday, a senior people's 60th birthday (Huijia Ji) and a couple's 60th wedding anniversary. At these joyous times, guests will give gifts to the person or couple being honored and will also celebrate by enjoying the host's delicious dishes.
People from the Chaoxian ethnic group are famous for their expertise at singing and dancing. After laboring or during festivals, girls in colorful dresses dance with the long drum and fans, and boys dance with a knife. This dancing is really spectacular and joyful and reflects the liveliness of this nationality.
For sports and other activities, men are interested in wrestling and football while women prefer swinging and see-saw jumping.
According to tradition, two young people who are closely related or who share the same surname should not get married. In Chaoxian families, men are responsible for taking care of matters outside the home while women's duties revolve around caring for the inside of their homes.
Chaoxian people respect the old and mark every Aug 15th as the Day of the Older Persons. On that day younger people are forbidden to drink or smoke in front of their elders. They are also expected to walk behind their elders and to give way and greet elders when meeting them. In the Chaoxian family the elder son is expected to support his parents forever. Anyone who is not dutiful to their parents will be looked down on by all of their society.