Difference Between Korean and Japanese

Korean vs Japanese

Korea and Japan have been neighbors in the Sea of Japan, and Korea was also under Japanese rule for some time in the early 20th century. After WW II, Korea got divided into North and South Korea when Japan surrendered. Korean and Japanese are terms that are used to refer to both the people as well as the languages spoken by the people or the citizens of Korea and Japan respectively. But here, we will discuss the languages only.

Both Koreas makes use of the same Korean language that many feel is very similar to the Japanese language. There are people who say that to learn Korean is an easy task for a Japanese student and vice versa. Recent findings suggest that Japanese language can be traced to Korean peninsula. However, despite similarities, there are differences between Japanese and Korean languages that will be highlighted in this article.

There are many differences between Japanese and Korean languages but the most prominent one is the use of the language systems. While Japanese makes use of three different writing systems called Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji, Koreans make use of a single wiring system called Hangul that was developed at the behest of Emperor Sejong in the 15th century. However, before Hangul was developed, Koreans made use of Chinese characters. Characters used in Japanese were introduced to Japanese by Chinese.

While there is no gaping between words in Japanese language making it hard for a learner to know where a word ends and another one begins, Koreans place a gap between words just like English to make it easier for students to learn the language. While both Japanese and Korean languages make use of Chinese characters and learning Japanese is impossible without learning kanji, it is possible to read books in Korean language without learning hanja (Chinese characters are so called in Korea).

The one feature of Korean language that makes it difficult to learn is the practice of having 2-3 sounds for most consonants making it very hard to remember for students. Imagine K having different sounds in different words. Mercifully it is not so in English. While Japanese has 5 vowels, Korean language has more than 18 vowels with many sounding the same making it difficult for students to master the language. The rules of grammar are complex in Korean while they are simple in Japanese language.

Korean vs Japanese

• Korean alphabet was developed quite late in the 15th century and it is called Hangul. Before that, Koreans made use of Chinese characters.

• Japan makes use of three writing systems where as there is a single writing system in Korean.

• There are no spaces between words in Japanese, whereas words are separated with a standard space like English in Korean.

• There are more vowels in Korean than Japanese.

• Korean consonants have several sounds making ti difficult to understand for foreigners.

• Korean can be learnt without Hanja (Chinese characters), whereas it is impossible to learn Japanese without kanji (Chinese characters).