The Koreas–Language


Modern Korean is the official language of both North and South Korea; almost 80 million people worldwide speak it (50 million in South Korea, 23 million in North Korea and millions abroad). Many linguists classify Korean as a “language isolate,” meaning that it has no clear relationship with any other language. If Korean is in fact a language isolate, it has more speakers than all other language isolates combined.

Korean is the same in both North and South, though the longer the two nations remain separate the more the language spoken in both will diverge. For example, South Koreans are more inclined to add new words from English while North Koreans readily add words in Russian. And of course, in the North, names of leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il always appear set aside from the main text and in bold.

We’re going to say hello and goodbye in a way both Northern and Southern Koreans would understand:
Hello: (informal) Annyong
goodbye: (to person leaving) Annyong-hi kashipshio

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