Korean language

Language spoken in Korea / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Korean (South Korean: 한국어, hangugeo; North Korean: 조선말, chosŏnmal) is the native language for about 81.7 million people, mostly of Korean descent.[lower-alpha 1][2] It is the official and national language of both South Korea and North Korea. The two countries have established standardized norms for Korean, and the differences between them are similar to those between Standard Chinese in Mainland China and Taiwan, but political conflicts between the two countries have highlighted the differences between them. South Korean newspaper Daily NK has claimed North Korea criminalizes the use of the South's standard language with the death penalty,[3] and South Korean education and media often portray the North's language as alien and uncomfortable.[4]

Quick facts: Korean, Pronunciation, Native to, Ethnic...
한국어 (South Korea)
조선말 (North Korea)
Names for the Korean language written vertically in Hangul. The South Korean name is on the left and the North Korean on the right.
Pronunciation[ha(ː)n.ɡu.ɡʌ] (South Korea)
[tso.sʌn.maɭ][1] (North Korea)
Native toKorea
Native speakers
82 million (2020)[2]
  • Korean
Early forms
Standard forms
Dialectssee Korean dialects
Hangul / Chosŏn'gŭl (Korean script)
Hanja / Hancha (Additional in South Korea, Historical in North Korea)
Official status
Official language in
Flag_of_South_Korea.svg South Korea
Flag_of_North_Korea.svg North Korea
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated by
  • National Institute of Korean Language
    (국립국어원 / 國立國語院)
  • The Language Research Institute, Academy of Social Science
    (사회과학원 어학연구소社會科學院 語學研究所)
  • China Korean Language Regulatory Commission
    (중국조선어규범위원회 / 中国朝鲜语规范委员会 / 中國朝鮮語規範委員會)
Language codes
ISO 639-1ko
ISO 639-2kor
ISO 639-3kor
Red: Spoken by a majority

Orange: Spoken by a minority

Green: Local minority Korean-speaking populations
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Beyond Korea, the language is recognised as a minority language in parts of China, namely Jilin Province, and specifically Yanbian Prefecture, and Changbai County. It is also spoken by Sakhalin Koreans in parts of Sakhalin, the Russian island just north of Japan, and by the Koryo-saram in parts of Central Asia.[5] The language has a few extinct relatives which—along with the Jeju language (Jejuan) of Jeju Island and Korean itself—form the compact Koreanic language family. Even so, Jejuan and Korean are not mutually intelligible. The linguistic homeland of Korean is suggested to be somewhere in contemporary Manchuria.[5] The hierarchy of the society from which the language originates deeply influences the language, leading to a system of speech levels and honorifics indicative of the formality of any given situation.

Modern Korean is written in the Korean script (한글; Hangul in South Korea, 조선글; Chosŏn'gŭl in North Korea), a system developed during the 15th century for that purpose, although it did not become the primary script until the 20th century. The script uses 24 basic letters (jamo) and 27 complex letters formed from the basic ones. When first recorded in historical texts, Korean was only a spoken language; all written records were maintained in Hanmun or classical Chinese along with invented phonetic scripts like as Idu, Gugyeol and Hyangchal. Later, written Chinese characters adapted to the Korean language, Hanja (漢字), were used to write the language for most of Korea's history and are still used to a limited extent in South Korea, most prominently in the humanities and the study of historical texts.

Since the turn of the 21st century, aspects of Korean culture have spread to other countries through globalization and cultural exports. As such, interest in Korean language acquisition (as a foreign language) is also generated by longstanding alliances, military involvement, and diplomacy, such as between South Korea–United States and China–North Korea since the end of World War II and the Korean War. Along with other languages such as Chinese and Arabic, Korean is ranked at the top difficulty level for English speakers by the United States Department of Defense.

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