Korean ethnic nationalism, or racial nationalism, is a political ideology and a form of ethnic identity that is widely prevalent in modern North and South Korea. It is based on the belief that Koreans form a nation, a race, and an group that shares a unified bloodline. It is centered on the notion of the minjok, a term that had been coined in Imperial Japan in the early Meiji period on the basis of Social Darwinian conceptions, minjok has been translated as nation, people, ethnic group, race, and race-nation. Shin portrayed the minjok as a race that had fought bravely to preserve Korean identity, had later declined. During the period of Japanese rule, this belief in the uniqueness of the Korean minjok gave an impetus for resisting Japanese assimilation policies, contemporary Korean historians continue to write about the nations unique racial and cultural heritage. A renewed emphasis on the purity of Korean blood has caused tensions, leading to renewed debates on multi-ethnicity, in the colonial period, the Imperial Japaneses assimilation policy claimed that Koreans and Japanese were of common origin but the former always subordinate. The policy included changing Korean names into Japanese, exclusive use of Japanese language, school instruction in the Japanese ethical system, and Shinto worship. They encouraged Koreans to take pride in their Koreanness, in their history, heritage, culture, thus, Korean nationalism can be seen as a deliberate and direct creation of the Japanese empire. In Korea, pure blood theory had been a common belief, the debates on this topic can be found sporadic in the South, whereas the public opinion in the North is hard to access. In a nationalistic view, to impugn the theory would have been tantamount to betraying Koreanness in the face of the challenge of an ethnic nation. It was especially true in the dictatorial leaderships by former presidents Syngman Rhee, in South Korea, the notion of pure blood results in discrimination toward people of both foreign-blood and mixed blood. Those with this mixed blood or foreign blood are referred to as Honhyul in South Korea. These characteristics challenge the role of ethnicity in South Korean nationalism, according to Campbell’s study for which she interviewed 150 South Koreans in their twenties, the desire for reunification is declining. However, these who are in favor of a Korean unification state reasons different from ethnic nationalism, the respondents stated that they only wanted unification if it would not disrupt the life in the South or if North Korea achieves economic parity with the South. A small number of respondents further mentioned that they support a unification on the condition that it did not take place in their lifetime, another reason stated for the wish for unification was the access to North Korea’s natural resources and cheap labor. This notion of evolving nationalism has been elaborated by the meaning of uri nara for young South Koreans. Campbell’s interviews further showed that many young South Koreans have no problems to accepting foreigners as part of uri nara. The South Korean nationality law is based on jus sanguinis instead of jus solis, according to a 2016 BBC poll of several different countries, South Korea had the highest percentage of people who stated that race was the most important factor of national identity
Heaven Lake of Baekdu Mountain where Hwanung, Dangun's father, is said to have descended from heaven, constitutes a foundation for the legend of blood purity in Korean
American football player Hines Ward's visit to South Korea in 2006 has stirred debate if the country's society should be more accepting of "mixed blood" people.
Image: BBC poll, Most important defining criteria of self identity, 2016