An Asian guy took an ancestry DNA test only to be told that he’s ‘100% Asian’
Surprise! You’re Asian!
by Nian Hu
Pretty much everyone I know has taken one of those ancestry DNA tests. And yeah, they're expensive but I can definitely see the appeal. The level of detail in the breakdowns — 56 percent Irish, 20 percent Balkan, 12 percent Iberian — isn't something you could get from a conversation with your grandma. And it's always fun to find out that you're secretly part Italian, filling you with joy and a renewed sense of appreciation for pasta.
I'll admit it. I've even been tempted to buy one of those myself. I know that both of my parents are from China, but maybe I have some Japanese or Southeast Asian in me. You never know!
Unfortunately, it seems like some of these tests…don't exactly work on Asian people? On Amazon, AncestryDNA claims to be a "new DNA testing service" that will "revolutionize the way you discover your family history." But according to Asian reviewers, they didn't exactly discover anything revolutionary about their family history.
For example, one Amazon reviewer identified himself as a Korean guy and said he was "curious" if he had South Asian ancestry or ancestors from other East Asian countries. After he coughed up $80 for the DNA test, the test results came back to say that he's…"100 percent Asian."
"One giant yellow pie chart just saying I'm just 'Asian,' nothing else," the reviewer wrote. "So I paid 80 bucks to find out I'm Asian."
He attached a photo of his test result. It shows one gigantic circle surrounding all of East Asia. The circle is literally the size of North America, and it includes Russia, China, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, Myanmar (Burma), Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, and Palau.
So basically, every SINGLE country in the entire continent Asia. Very helpful!
People of European descent, on the other hand, received extremely detailed breakdowns that included specific regions such as Italy/Greece, Iberian Peninsula, Ireland, and Scandinavia. Needless to say, they were MUCH more pleased with their purchase.
A lot of the trouble might be with AncestryDNA specifically, though. Certain companies like 23AndMe test more single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPS) that can analyze your genes in a more specific, nuanced way. According to Asian users of r/genealogy, it provides a better breakdown of ethnic groups. One user found this out:
Ancestry DNA only has three Asian categories at the moment: Central, East and South. Native American is separate.
23andMe currently splits Asian into: Japanese, Korean, Yakut, Mongolian, Chinese, Broadly East Asian, Southeast Asian, Native American, and Broadly East Asian & Native American.
This is why we always read the Amazon reviews, guys. We reached out to AncestryDNA for comment and will update this story if they respond.