As soon as the summer sets in, what do you stock in first? Light and cool clothes, flip-flops, sunscreen, and most importantly-deodorant and anti-perspirants, right? We are generally very cautious about choosing different products to hide any bad body odour or those embarrassing pit stains. However, what if we tell you that there is a country in which about every native is genetically mutated to NOT HAVE BODY ODOUR AT ALL. “This can’t be true!” if that’s exactly what crossed your mind, you need to read this.
Koreans don’t Need Deodorants
In a human body, the ABCC11 gene is responsible for body odour. A vast majority of Korean people lack ABCC11 gene and instead have an unusual AA genotype that does not contain sweat odour according to a report published in 2013 by the University of Bristol. So in reality, only 0.006% of the entire population has a smelly body in Korea. The reason behind the lack is understood as ‘genetic modification’ that has happened naturally over time.
1. Is it Good or is it Bad?
From an evolutionary point of view, odourless sweat might have helped people in North Eurasia to adjust better to the cold. However, odorous sweat in non-humans actually enhances apocrine secretion which is used to identify and prepare for sexual mate selection. In short, the body odour in animals and other organisms plays a part in the attracting sexual mates.
2. Is it Just the Koreans?
The AA variant of the ABCC11 gene is common in Asian populations and is rarely found in African or Caucasian ethnicity. Nearly 30-50% of people living in Minor East Asia, the Pacific Islands, South Asia and Indigenous Americans have no stinky armpits due to the presence of the AA variant of the usual ABCC11 gene. While 97% Koreans don’t have it, the 2% out of British Europeans that tested in 2013 also fall under this category.
3. Does it Mean Drier Bodies?
Yes. Sweat and keratin in the ear form the earwax that needs to be cleaned frequently. People with ABCC 11 gene mutation like Koreans tend to have dry flaky earwax without odour whereas; others with more apocrine sweat have sticky wet wax. The most common cases of dry and flaky earwax are Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans while 80% of black and white people have wet earwax.
So does that mean Korea doesn’t need deodorant at all? Most Koreans do not use deodorants or anti-perspirant and you will rarely find it on your trip to Seoul. However, some admit that even if there is no bad odour, a fresh aroma around the body is essential to maintain good hygiene. Thus, it is like an accessory to them rather than an essential unlike for others. So yes, you will not find this product easily.