Statistics: Ten thousand Kims of Korea

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
476,
Page:
128
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/476128b
Published online

Kim is the most common surname in Korea, and has probably held pole position for more than a millennium, according to a statistical study.

Petter Minnhagen at Umeå University in Sweden and his colleagues studied ten Korean family trees that traced lineages back through 500 years. Using a statistical analysis that divides the tree data into family groups and predicts how they mix, the team was able to extrapolate the frequency of the name Kim back to AD 500. The model predicts that at that time 10,000 inhabitants — about one-fifth of the total population — shared the surname.

The results suggest that Korean culture has been stable for hundreds of years, the authors say.

N. J. Phys. 13, 073036 (2011)

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