The JoongAng Ilbo is speculating that the North Koreans may be both distinguished easily and discriminated against due to their different physical appearances in a post unification scenario.

The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed the physical condition of 1,075 North Korean defectors ranging in age from 20 to 39 in 2005. According to the results of the survey, the average height of North Korean males was 165.6 centimeters, and that of North Korean females 154.9 centimeters.

By comparison, an average South Korean man was 172.5 centimeters tall and a woman 159.1 centimeters tall in a survey the same year by the Ministry of Health and Welfare of the same age group.

“The measurements show that North Korea’s health and nutrition condition regressed to that of the 1960s,” an official at the Health Ministry said. The communist country has been suffering from food shortages and the collapse of its public health and medical care system.

The physical gap may be widening, experts here worried. Chung Woo-jin, a professor at Yonsei University’s Graduate School of Public Health, said the height difference between men of the two Koreas could be more than 11 centimeters by 2025, with a 6-centimeter difference in women’s height. He also said South Koreans’ body type is becoming “Westernized,” with longer legs, while North Koreans are developing longer upper body parts.

Of course the North Koreans may say that McDonalds and Dunkin’ Donuts are distorting the perfect Korean DNA and creating weakened genetic freaks.

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