How Many People In The World Speak Korean As Their First Language?


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Yo Kass Profile
Yo Kass answered
The Korean language is spoken by roughly 78 million people globally. It is considered to be the mother-tongue of 48 million people in South Korea, and of 23 million in North Korea.
Korean is a language not widely spoken outside the Korean peninsula, but it has reached China, Japan, the United States and countries of the former U.S.S.R through the phenomenon of Korean 'diaspora' or mass migration - and may account for a further 5 million native speakers scattered across the globe.

History of the Korean Language

The history of what we nowadays consider Korean has a complex timeline that spans back over 2000 years. Due to its geographic location, and political developments, the influence of both Japan and China is significant in the history of the Korean language.

Throughout most of its history, Korean language was transcribed through the use of Chinese hanja and other phonetic characters, but a dedicated Korean writing system was developed in the 15th century. Named Hangul, it was initially suppressed by the aristocracy of Korea and was only adopted nationally during the 20th century.

The development of the Korean language is commonly discussed in four individual stages:
  • Before 1st century: Proto-Korean
  • 1st to 10th century: Old Korean
  • 10th to 16th century: Middle Korean
  • 17th century to present: Modern Korean

Classification of the Korean language

The Korean language has proved something of a controversy for linguists, with many arguing that it constitutes its own genealogical classification - whilst others happily group it under the family of Altaic languages that includes Turkic, Tungusic, Mongolic, and Japonic variants.

Regardless of how it's classified, the two main things you need to know about the Korean language (in linguistic terms at least...) is that:
  • Korean makes heavy use of 'agglutination' which is where small units that have individual semantic meaning are stuck together to form words. 
  • Korean sentences are usually formed in the subject-object-verb order (as opposed to the English subject-verb-object)
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Korean is spoken by more than 72 million people on the Korean peninsula. Outside of the Korean peninsula, there are about two million people in China who speak Korean as their first language, another two million in the United States, 700,000 in Japan, and 500,000 in the Russian regions of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Overall this is about 77.2 million people speak Korean as their first language.

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