A number of Korean dialects are spoken in the Korean Peninsula. The peninsula is extremely mountainous and each dialect's "territory" corresponds closely to the natural boundaries between different geographical regions of Korea. Most of the dialects are named for one of the traditional Eight Provinces of Korea. One is sufficiently distinct from the others to be considered a separate language, the Jeju language.

Native speakers
76 million (2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-1ko
ISO 639-2kor
ISO 639-3kor
Korean dialects in Korea and neighbouring areas

The standard languageEdit

  • In South Korea, Standard Korean (표준어/標準語/pyojun-eo) is defined by the National Institute of the Korean Language as "the modern speech of Seoul widely used by the well-cultivated" (교양있는 사람들이 두루 쓰는 현대 서울말). In practice, it tends not to include features that are found exclusively in Seoul.[citation needed]
  • In North Korea, the adopting proclamation stated that the Pyongan dialect spoken in the capital of Pyongyang and its surroundings should be the basis for the North Korean standard language (Munhwaŏ); however, in practice, it remains "firmly rooted" in the Gyeonggi dialect, which had been the national standard for centuries.[3]

Despite North–South differences in the Korean language, the two standards are still broadly intelligible. One notable feature within the divergence is the North's lack of anglicisms and other foreign borrowings due to isolationism and self-reliancepure/invented Korean words are used in replacement.[4]

Regional dialectsEdit

Various words for "dragonfly" (Standard Korean of South Korea: 잠자리).

Korea is a mountainous country, and Korean is consequently divided into numerous small local dialects. There are few clear demarcations, so dialect classification is necessarily to some extent arbitrary. Nonetheless, the following divisions are commonly cited in the literature:

A recent statistical analysis of these dialects suggests that the hierarchical structure within these dialects are highly uncertain, meaning that there is no quantitative evidence to support a family-tree-like relationship among them.[7]

Outside of the Korean peninsulaEdit


Some researchers classify the Korean dialects in Western and Eastern dialects. Compared with Middle Korean, the Western dialects have preserved long vowels, while the Eastern dialects have preserved tones. But the Southeastern dialect and the Northeastern dialect may not be closely related to each other genealogically.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Korean". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b c d e Lee & Ramsey, 2000. The Korean language
  4. ^ Seo, Dong-shin (December 18, 2005). "North Chides South for Dirtying Korean Tongue". The Korea Times. Seoul, South Korea. Archived from the original on January 1, 2006. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  5. ^ 朝鲜语六镇话的方言特点
  6. ^ Janhunen, Juha (1996). Manchuria: An Ethnic History. Finno-Ugrian Society. ISBN 978-951-9403-84-7.
  7. ^ Lee, Sean; Mokrousov, Igor (29 May 2015). "A Sketch of Language History in the Korean Peninsula". PLOS ONE. 10 (5): e0128448. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0128448. PMC 4449120. PMID 26024377.

Further readingEdit

  • J.-J. Song (2005). The Korean Language: Structure, Use and Context. London: Routledge.
  • Kim, Mu-rim (김무림) (2004). 국어의 역사 (Gugeo-ui yeoksa, History of the Korean language). Seoul: Hankook Munhwasa. ISBN 89-5726-185-0.

External linksEdit