Welocalize Language Spotlight on Korean

Korean is Welocalize’s 4th most translated language, per the Welocalize 2015 Language Report. Korean is the official language of both the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). It is the 11th most spoken language worldwide with the total number of Korean speakers close to 74 million. This includes 48 million in South Korea, 26 million in North Korea.

Korea has developed a knowledge-based economy, investing in education, science and technology since the 1970’s which seems to have paid off. According to Bloomberg’s 2015 Innovation Index, South Korea is listed as the most innovative economy in the world. The report measured the added value created through manufacturing, patent activity and those enrolled in higher education. WIPO statistics show that in 2014, Korea filed for in excess of 196,000 trademarks (100,000 more than in 2000) and 87,000 industrial designs , an increase of almost 165% since 2000.

Korean is considered to be quite difficult to learn for English speakers due to different word order and complex case parties and verb endings. The Korean writing system is alphabetic and can be learned quickly.

Here are some language facts about Korean:

Fact One: Although Korean is one language, there are a range of dialects spoken in different regions, for example, Hanguk, Yeongseo, Jeju, Seoul, Jeolla, Gyeongsang & Chungcheong. However, native Korean’s have little trouble understanding those speaking a different dialect.

Fact Two: Over 2.5 million Korean’s reside across the Americas and Korean speakers can also be found in China, Japan and Russia. Korean is spoken by 74 million North and South Koreans. In South Korea, the language comprises of more loans words from Chinese, Japanese and English, than in North Korea.

Fact Three: With a population in excess of 10 million people, South Korea’s capital Seoul literally means ‘capital’ in Korean.

Fact Four: Within Korea, there is a paramount emphasis on respect, particularly for one’s family and elders. As in other Asian cultures, honorifics are used in both formal and informal ways to communicate. When conversing with elders, words have to be carefully selected in order to ensure respect is shown.

Fact Five: Korean is a dynamic language and many words have changed spelling over time. In Korean, the word ‘no’ has changed from aniyo to anio, reverting back to aniyo.

Fact Six: The Korean alphabet (Hangul) is made up of 24 letters that consist of 14 different consonants and 10 vowels. The invention of Hangul is honoured and celebrated in both North and South Korea. Korean Alphabet Day is a cultural and national holiday, taking place on 9 October each year.