As a part of northeast Asia, the Korean peninsula is at a pivotal geographic location for the initial peopling of eastern Eurasia as well as later population migrations in this region. Although population geneticists have been thoroughly studying the genetic structure of present-day eastern Eurasians and the ways in which it has changed over time, the origins of Koreans and their relationships to worldwide populations have been much less studied. Especially, no archaeogenetic work using genome-wide data has been conducted for ancient Koreans. In this article, I review the current understanding of the eastern Eurasian population history, highlighting the role of recent archaeogenetic work. In short, the north-south genetic cline of eastern Eurasians is primarily due to a differential contribution from two distinct ancestral gene pools, ancestral East Asians and ancient North Eurasians from Siberia. The latter is closely related to Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers. Prehistoric Korea was surrounded by at least three distinct gene pools: southeast Asian, northeast Asian, and prehistoric Jomon people in Japan. Present-day Koreans are most closely related to the southeast Asian-related gene pool, with limited contribution from the northeast Asian-related one. Future archaeogenetic studies will be critical to understand temporal details of the gradual formation of the Korean gene pool.


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pp. 27-53
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