Korean is the official language of both South Korea (The Republic of Korea) and North Korea (The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). It is spoken by 72 million people on the Korean peninsula, and another 3 million around the world. Korean is listed as a Critical Language by the US government.
Some scholars classify Korean as one of the few “language isolates” in the world—a language that has no clear connection to any other language. Others link it to Japanese and to the Altaic languages, which include Turkish and Mongolian. Korean has a unique alphabet that was invented in the fifteenth century and is still used today.
The structure of Korean is complex but logical, and the formality levels that contribute to this complexity create a type of linguistic and social richness unique to languages like Korean and Japanese. The alphabet is easy to learn—within a matter of hours you can be writing and sounding out Korean words. The rewards of learning Korean are great. Knowledge of Korean will not only enhance your career options and your access to a dynamic part of the cultural, economic, and political landscape of Asia, but being able to express yourself in this unique language will let you discover new modes of thought, communication, and culture to enrich who you are.