Korean language facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Korean
Hangugeo, Chosŏnmal
Hangugeo-Chosonmal.png
Two names for Korean, Hangugeo and Chosŏnmal, written vertically in hangul
Native to South Korea
North Korea
Jilin·Liaoning·Heilongjiang, China
Japan (Koreans in Japan)
Native speakers 76 million  (2007)
Language family
isolated
  • Koreanic
    • Korean
Early forms:
Old Korean
  • Middle Korean
    • Korean
Dialects
Jeju
Writing system Hangul (primary)
Hanja (mixed script)
Korean Braille
Cyrillic (Koryo-mar)
Official status
Official language in  South Korea
 North Korea
People's Republic of China Yanbian, China

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

In South Korea, it is called han'gukmal or han'gugeo. In North Korea, however, it is called chosŏnmal or chosŏnŏ. They are named differently because the common names for North and South Korea are different. In additional, Koreans usually call their language, "our language" or "our country's language".

Writing

Hangeul hakhoe Korean Language Society 20180915 130120
The headquarters of Korean Language Society in Seoul

The Korean language uses two different writing systems. The first is Hangul, the main alphabet. In North Korea, only Hangeul (Known as Chosǒngǔl in North Korea) is used by law. In South Korea, only Hangeul should be used in most public areas like education, but the second system, Hanja, is still used in some newspapers and professional areas.

Hanja is the system of Chinese characters that are used in Korean. Hanja 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.

Korean Alphabet
Korean alphabet displayed on a book made out of stone

Despite the fact that King Sejong the Great led the development of Hangeul in order to allow literacy to spread among common people and to create a writing system that more accurately represented the Korean language than Hanja, it was not adopted by the upper classes of Koreans, and therefore Hanja would continue to be the official writing system util the late 19th century.

Despite it being 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 with each other.

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Korean language Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.