Photo courtesy of Kyle Gallagher

Quick Facts


Total Worldwide Speakers: 66,305,890


Language Family: Language Isolate


Spoken in:
North Korea, South Korea, American Samoa, Australia, Bahrain, Belize, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, China, Germany, Guam, Japan, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Mauritania, Mongolia, Mozambique, New Zealand, Northern Mariana Islands, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Russian Federation (Asia), Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Suriname, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, United States, Uzbekistan



The Korean alphabet was invented in 1444 and was originally called Hunmin jeongeum, or "The correct sounds for the instruction of the people", but has also been known as Eonmeun (vulgar script) and Gukmeun (national writing). The modern name for the alphabet, Hangeul, was coined by a Korean linguist called Ju Si-gyeong (1876-1914). In North Korea the alphabet is known as 조선글 (josoen guel).

The Koreans borrowed a huge number of Chinese words, gave Korean readings and/or meanings to some of the Chinese characters and also invented about 150 new characters, most of which are rare or used mainly for personal or place names. The shapes of the consonants are based on the shape the mouth made when the corresponding sound is made, and the traditional direction of writing (vertically from right to left) most likely came from Chinese, as did the practice of writing syllables in blocks.



Sources: The Ethnologue & Omniglot


Periplus Pocket Korean Dictionary

Author: Seong-Chul Shin, Gene Baik
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Copyright: 2003
ISBN 0-7946-0047-6
No of Copies 1


Joint Security Area (JSA)

Audio Tracks Korean, English
Subtitles English
Running Time 109 min
Rating Not Rated


Audio Tracks Korean
Subtitles English
Running Time 139 min
Rating Unrated

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring

Audio Tracks Korean
Subtitles English & French
Running Time 102 min
Rating R

Stray Bullet

Audio Tracks Korean
Subtitles English
Running Time 108 min
Rating Not Rated

Tae Guk Gi

Audio Tracks Korean, English
Subtitles English & French
Running Time 148 min
Rating R


Rosetta Stone - Korean Level 1

One of the leaders in language learning software, Rosetta Stone allows you to learn a new language almost effortlessly. The interactive software helps you learn through imersion rather than repetitive memorization. Learn the essential structure needed to help you develop a foundation in the language. Rosetta Stone Software cannot be checked out and is for in-lab use only.

Web-Based Resources

Web-Based Software

Mango Languages LogoMango Languages is available free to all Saint Michael's students, faculty, and staff in a number of languages. Each Mango lesson is focused on practical, common conversation skills and includes instruction on vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and culture.

For assistance with Mango, please see the Getting Started with Mango Languages guide.


Powerspeak Logo Includes a combination of scored online activities, exercises, lessons and games. Course activities include an adventure story containing graphics, audio, video and an intuitive way to track learning progress. Learners are also challenged to practice speaking and writing in a variety of interactive modules designed to simulate real conversations with native speakers.

For assistance with Powerspeak, please see the Getting Started with Powerspeak guide.

Web-Based Links

Global Road Warrior

Use this database to get acclimated to a country's business culture and etiquette (greetings & courtesies, ethics, meetings, attire), society and culture (gift giving, food, media, time & punctuality) and travel tips (money & banking, transportation, and more) for 175 countries.

Let's Learn Korean

Illustrated compendium of grammar lessons and conversational Korean prompts accompanied by audio pronunciation aids.