한국어 hangugeo in South Korea, 조선어 joseoneo in North Korea and China, 고려말 goryeomal in former Soviet states

Language isolate or Altaic > Koreanic > Korean (disputed)

Spoken by: 75 millions according to ne.se, 2010

Official in: South Korea, North Korea, China (Yanbian prefecture)

Spoken primarily in: South Korea, North Korea, China (esp. Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces), United States, Japan, Canada

Korean is considered a language isolate by many researchers, i.e. it has no known relatives. Others group it together with Japanese, Turkish, Mongolian and other languages in the proposed Altaic family, but the existence of such a language family is disputed. Like many languages in East Asia, Korean has been influenced by Chinese and used to be written with Chinese characters, which are still used marginally. However, the main writing system for Korean is Hangul, which was developed in 1443. Hangul is an alphabet, where the design of the consonants is based on their place of articulation. Also vowels follow a logic scheme. Syllables are grouped together and can be read in blocks.