South Korea/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.5 Language issues and policies

The invention of Han-Geul, the Korean unique alphabet system in the 14th century has made Korea an uncontestable in terms of language system. There are concerns about diminishing language diversity in terms of local dialects but remain rather a periphery issue. There is ongoing debate weather or not to juxtapose Chinese character with Han-geul that form the ideogrphic basis of vocabularies.

Currently issues related to language can be summarized as follows. Firstly, the Korean language environment is changing rapidly due to influences of foreign languages and internet communication. Concerns has been expressed that newly generated vocabularies substitute proper expression and this may harm the identity of official language. Secondly, there is a growing support for greater tolerance of multi-language use. This reflects the growing proportion of users of diverse languages in Korea owing to the increasing influx of people from North Korea, women migrants and foreign workers. Thirdly, with the advance of globalization, the demand for Korean language learning has increased explosively.

Chapter published: 29-11-2013