Even though I am 100% ethnically Korean, according to new analyses from 23andme, my ancestors as of 500 years ago were tad more Japanese than they were Korean. My family hails from the very southern tip of the peninsula less than 160 miles away from Japan. Even 500 years ago, 160 mile stretch of water could be readily traversed by even small fishing boats so such race mixing should not at all be shocking news.
However given the history of World War II, uncovering a Japanese heritage was not exactly welcome news. My great grand uncle who was studying abroad in Tokyo was force drafted as a kamikaze pilot. My great grandmother was forever heartbroken over his early demise. My grandfather was imprisoned by the Japanese about to be shipped off to slave labor in Japan. Thankfully he was spared after my grandmother plead his case by presenting an exquisite cedar box filled with moss and fish to the Japanese district prefect. My grandfather was simply allowed to perform the hard labor at home.
It's rather uncomfortable news to know that you share common ancestors with a race that directly oppressed your family members and countless other countrymen. If my grandfather were alive, he would probably refuse to believe he had any Japanese heritage at all. And would the Japanese who perpetrated the war crimes upon the Koreans behave any differently knowing they had shared ancestry?
What to make of such a revelation? Well, it clears up the mystery of being mistaken for being a Japanese tourist in Korea and being mistaken for being Japanese in Japan. I think the worst identity crisis wrought by genetic testing was a case of a black American who turned out not to have African ancestry- no more than any other human. He descended from ancestors from the Middle East making him question his whole notion of himself as an African American.
But 500 years past is distant enough that I need not agonize over my Korean identity too much. Despite any genetic heritage surprises lurking, I'm now legally and culturally a tax-paying American.