Online & Digital

Univoca:South Korean-North Korean Translator


Issue 35 | June 2015


After more than 60 years of separation, different forms of the Korean language have evolved in the two Koreas, with the South incorporating many words from English. For example, when playing football, South Koreans simply use the English term "penalty kick", while in the North they use a Korean word that translates as "11-meter punishment". According to language experts, the two Koreas’ vocabulary are 30 - 40% different in daily life, while more than 60% different in business or professional settings, presenting North Korean defectors a big challenge when they try to adjust to their new life in the South. According to a 2012 study by the National Institute of the Korean Language, North Korean defectors understand only half of the Korean language used in the South. In particular for the North Korean teen defectors, who are more sensitive to cultural differences, the language issue is considered a first priority to solve when settling down in South Korea. 

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