Korean language

language spoken in Korean Peninsula and some parts of North-eastern China

The Korean language is spoken mainly in North and South Korea. It is spoken by more than 78 million people (most are North or South Koreans).

한국어, 조선말
Hangugeo, Chosŏnmal
Two names for Korean, Hangugeo and Chosŏnmal, written vertically in hangul
Native toSouth Korea
North Korea
Jilin·Liaoning·Heilongjiang, China
Native speakers
76 million (2007)[1]
Early forms
Hangul (primary)
Hanja (mixed script)
Korean Braille
Cyrillic (Koryo-mar)
Official status
Official language in
 South Korea
 North Korea
China Yanbian, China
Regulated bySouth Korea:
The National Institute of the Korean Language
국립국어원/ 國立國語院 North Korea:
Sahoe Kwahagwon Ŏhak Yŏnguso
The Language Research Institute of Social Science
사회과학원 어학연구소/ 社會科學院 語學研究所
Language codes
ISO 639-1ko
ISO 639-2kor
ISO 639-3Variously:
kor – Modern Korean
okm – Middle Korean
oko – Old Korean
okm Middle Korean
 oko Old Korean
Countries with native Korean-speaking populations. (Established immigrant communities in green)
Spoken Korean
Hanbid speaking Korean

In South Korea, it is called hangukmal (한국말) or hangugeo (Hangeul: 한국어, Hanja: 韓國語). In North Korea, however, it is called choseonmal (조선말) or choseoneo (조선어, 朝鮮語). They are named differently because the common names for North and South Korea are different. Additionally, Koreans usually call their language urimal (Hangeul: 우리말) or urinara mal (Hangeul: 우리나라 말), meaning "our language" or "our country's language."

Writing change

Korean uses two different writing systems. One is Hangul, the main alphabet. In North Korea, only Hangeul (Known as Choseongeul in North Korea) is used by law. In South Korea, only Hangeul is used in most public areas like education, but the other system, Hanja, is still used in some newspapers and professional areas. Hanja is the system of Chinese characters that are used in Korean. It was the only way to write Korean before the creation of Hangeul in the 15th century, and it was common in novels before the 19th century.

Although King Sejong the Great led the development of Hangeul to allow literacy to spread among common people and to create a writing system that represented the language more accurately than Hanja, it was not adopted by the upper classes of Koreans. Hanja would continue to be the official writing system until the late 19th century. Although it was rejected by the elite classes, Hangeul was used often by lower classes as a way to write down Korean literature and for lower classes to communicate.

References change

  1. Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007