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Spread of the Korean Language

Map No.


Korean is spoken by roughly 74 million people, in at least 21 territories. It is spoken by almost everyone in the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). It is also spoken by around 1.9 million people in China, mostly in the North-East of the country. There are also large numbers of speakers in the United States (especially in Los Angeles’ Koreatown district), and Japan, where Koreans make up the largest ethnic minority group.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial - ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For any commercial use (including in publishing) a map use license needs to be obtained.

Technical Notes

The map shows the proportion of all people who speak Korean as a first language that live in that territory in 2005, but removed the countries where Korean is dominant. This map therefore only shows 5.9% of all speakers of Korean. The territories omitted are Republic of Korea and DPR Korea.

The maps in the 2005 language data series are made from data on the number of people speaking a language as their first-language, that is the language they would use at home.

Data sources
This map uses data several sources, the main one being Ethnologue (15th Edition, 2005). Estimating the number of speakers of a language is fraught with difficulty on several levels (last accessed January 2009). We aim to map as complete data as possible and therefore estimate data for missing values. The language numbers we use and publish are rough estimates, and should not be taken as definitive. In some cases, missing data for very small territories is not used in the cartogram and that area is therefore omitted in the map.

All modifications to the original data source are noted in our data sheets. Data for this map will soon be available as a download.

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