North Korean standard language

North Korean standard language or Munhwaŏ (Korean문화어; Hanja文化語) is the North Korean standard version of the Korean language. Munhwaŏ was adopted as the standard in 1966. The adopting proclamation stated that the Pyongan dialect spoken in the North Korean capital Pyongyang and its surroundings should be the basis for Munhwaŏ; however, in practice, Iksop Lee and S. Robert Ramsey report that Munhwaŏ remains "firmly rooted" in the Seoul dialect, which had been the national standard for centuries. Most differences between the North and South Korean standards are thus attributable to replacement of Sino-Korean vocabulary and other loanwords with pure Korean words, or the Northern ideological preference for "the speech of the working class" which includes some words considered non-standard in the South.[1]

North Korean standard language
Native toNorth Korea
EthnicityNorth Koreans
EraSecond half of the 20th century and 21st century
Koreanic languages
  • North Korean standard language
Early forms
Official status
Official language in
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Language codes
ISO 639-3
North Korean standard language
North Korean name
South Korean name
An example of the North Korean language as spoken by the translator and Kim Jong-un at the 2018 North Korea–United States Singapore Summit


Following the liberation of Korea in 1945, both sides of the Korean peninsula continued to follow the Korean language guidelines as defined by the Korean Language Society in 1933 with the "Proposal for Unified Korean Orthography" (Korean한글 맞춤법 통일안) and in 1936 with the "Collection of Assessed Standard Korean Words" (Korean사정한 조선어 표준말 모음). In 1954, the 1933 proposal was replaced by a new system (Korean조선어 철자법) by the North Korean government in which thirteen words were slightly modified. Although the reformation created little difference, from this point the languages spoken by people on both sides on the Korean peninsula only grew in difference.

During the emergence of the Juche idea in the 1960s, Kim Il-sung coordinated an effort to purify the Korean language from English, Japanese, and Russian loanwords as well as words with less common Hanja characters, replacing them with new words derived from native Korean words.

Thus, North Korea began to refer to its own dialect as "cultural language" (Korean문화어) as a reference to its return to words of Korean cultural origin, in juxtaposition to South Korea's reference to its own dialect as "standard language" (Korean표준어).

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Lee, Iksop; Ramsey, S. Robert (2000). The Korean Language. SUNY Press. p. 309. ISBN 978-0-7914-4831-1.