한국어, 조선말
Hangugeo, Chosŏnmal
Native to South Korea
North Korea
Jilin·Liaoning·Heilongjiang, China
Japan (Koreans in Japan)
Native speakers 75 million  (2007)
Language family
Altaic (disputed)
  • Koreanic
    • Korean
Early forms:
Old Korean
  • Middle Korean
    • Korean
mainland Korean dialects
Writing system Hangul (primary)
Hanja (mixed script)
Korean Braille
Official status
Official language in
  • South Korea
  • North Korea
  • Yanbian, People's Republic of China
Recognised minority language in
  • People's Republic of China
  • Japan
  • United States
Language codes
ISO 639-1 ko
ISO 639-2 kor
ISO 639-3 Variously:
kor – Modern Korean
okm – Middle Korean
oko – Old Korean
Linguasphere 45-AAA-a

Korean (한국어/조선말) is the official language of South Korea and North Korea as well as one of the two official languages in China's Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture. Approximately 78 million people speak Korean worldwide. For over a millennium, Korean was written with adapted Chinese characters called hanja, complemented by phonetic systems like hyangchal, gugyeol, and idu. In the 15th century, a national writing system called hangul was commissioned by Sejong the Great, but it only came into widespread use in the 20th century, because of the yangban aristocracy's preference for hanja.

Most historical linguists classify Korean as a language isolate while a few consider it to be in the controversial Altaic language family.The Korean language is agglutinative in its morphology and SOV in its syntax.

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