The Han Chinese of North Korea
Almost 170,000 Han Chinese live in North Korea; yet, they make up less than 1% of the country's total population. About four-fifths of North Korea's land is mountainous. The remainder, which is suitable for farming and industry, contains the entire population of North Korea. The climate is similar to that of New England, except for the cold Siberian winds in the winter. Wildlife includes deer, antelope, wild pigeons, and tigers. The Han Chinese living scattered throughout North Korea have, for most part, retained their Chinese heritage and have even influenced Korean culture.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Railroads are an important means of transportation between cities in North Korea. Few automobiles are available, so highway transportation is not important. The roads that do exist are not yet paved. Walking and bicycling are by far the main methods of transportation.
In 1950, a Mandarin law was passed stating that Han Chinese marriages were no longer to be arranged. It also said that a bride-price was no longer mandatory and that women were permitted to file for divorce. A marriage based on love is ideal today. Marriages between minors are no longer considered legal. A newlywed couple may choose to live with either the bride's or the groom's family.
Education is very important to the Han Chinese. They are encouraged to excel in school and are given adequate study time while away from school. For more than 2,000 years, the Han Chinese have developed the "humoral balance" theory. This involves the balance of what are believed to be the four fluids of the body: blood, phlegm, choler, and black bile. Acupuncture, or surface point stimulation with needles, is the result of this theory. Today, acupuncture is practiced in many Western countries, including the United States. It is known to prevent or control diseases, relieve pain, and induce sleep.
Most of the Han Chinese in North Korea have retained their ethnic Chinese traditions. Family groups are tightly knit and children's births are welcomed, in contrast to the one-child-per-family law in China. The Han Chinese are known to be self-reliant, flexible, hard working, and frugal.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Most Chinese folk religions include the belief that when a Han Chinese dies, his soul is dispersed in the earth to remain in bones before traveling to the realm of the dead. There, the soul is believed to live as it did while on the earth. Finally, they believe that the soul comes to rest in a wooden or paper spirit tablet that is to be worshipped as an "ancestral spirit." The Han believe that these spirits can cause harm if they are not appeased.
What Are Their Needs?
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Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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