How can you tell if a person approaching you is Chinese, Japanese or Korean?

I’m living on campus this year with many international students. Is there anyway I can tell without asking? Any facial features that would give it away?

I’m going to show you some very popular photos which are computer generated to represent the average facial features of Han Chinese, Korean and Japanese people.

I can’t really explain the differences myself, but hopefully somebody else might. You can study them and make your own rules.

Han Chinese:






You can pay special attention to features like:

  • eyes (how far apart, how round, how wide)
  • face shape (triangle, oval, round)
  • nose (wide, narrow)
  • lips (thin lower lip, full upper lip)

Couldn’t post all the photos in my first reply. These are the last 2.




I’ll give you my 2 cents about this, as I have friends from all these 3 countries and have visited a lot.

The Japanese have a longer and wider face, and you’ll be able to differentiate from Korean as their faces tend to have higher more prominent cheekbones, and a stronger jaw line. For the Chinese, it’s quite difficult to put all of them in one category, but if we focus on Han Chinese, their faces are generally rounder.

If you take the eyes as the point of reference, the Japanese have bigger eyes which tend to point downward, whereas you’ll see the Chinese have eyes that are angled upward. Out of the three, I would say Korean have smaller eyes.

You can also differentiate them by style, how they dress, how they use make-up, how they style their hair.

The Japanese are famous for a very natural style of make-up, almost looking like they don’t wear any. They just use neutral tones and perfect the skin. I’m talking here about the average girl/woman, not those with a particularly eclectic style, as you’ll find plenty of that also. Chinese women go for red or pink lipstick and accentuate their eyes with pencil or dark eyeshadow. And the Korean adopt a very androgynous look by filling in their eyebrows making them look straight and horizontal.

If you look at clothes, The Japanese adopt the same principals as with make-up. Plain and simple with neutral colours, showing uniformity and a strong belonging to a group, and they blend in as much as possible. The Koreans, however, choose to wear colourful clothes and bright colours. And the Chinese, that’s where it gets a bit mixed, because they incorporate all sorts of fashion influences, both from Western countries and from Japanese or more broadly south-east Asian fashion.

Hope this helps. These are some differences I observed in time.