Korean

Korean

[kuh-ree-uhn, kaw-, koh-]
Korean, language of uncertain ancestry. It is thought by some scholars to be akin to Japanese, by others to be a member of the Altaic subfamily of the Ural-Altaic family of languages (see Uralic and Altaic languages), and by still others to be unrelated to any known language. The Korean tongue is spoken by more than 71 million people in Korea (48 million in South Korea and 23 million in North Korea) and several million more in Japan, China, and elsewhere. Unlike Chinese, Korean does not use tones to make semantic distinctions. Its syntax, however, is similar to that of Chinese, while its morphology resembles that of Japanese. Korean is an agglutinative language in which different linguistic elements, each of which exists separately and has a fixed meaning, are often joined to form one word. A distinctive feature of Korean is the use of a number of different forms to indicate the respective social positions of the speaker, the individual spoken to, and the individual spoken about. The literature in the language dates from the 7th cent. A.D. Once written in Chinese characters, modern Korean has its own phonetic alphabet, called Hangeul (or onmun), which was devised in the 15th cent. The division of Korea into North and South since after World War II has led to differences in the language in the two nations, most prominently the addition of many new words to the South Korean dialect.

See E. W. Wagner, Elementary Written Korean (3 vol., 1963-71); S. E. Martin et al., Beginning Korean (1969).

(1950–53) Conflict arising after the post-World War II division of Korea, at latitude 38° N, into North Korea and South Korea. At the end of World War II, Soviet forces accepted the surrender of Japanese forces north of that line, as U.S. forces accepted Japanese surrender south of it. Negotiations failed to reunify the two halves, the northern half being a Soviet client state and the southern half being backed by the U.S. In 1950 North Korea invaded South Korea, and U.S. Pres. Harry Truman ordered troops to assist South Korea. The UN Security Council, minus the absent Soviet delegate, passed a resolution calling for the assistance of all UN members in halting the North Koreans. At first North Korean troops drove the South Korean and U.S. forces down to the southern tip of the Korean peninsula, but a brilliant amphibious landing at Inch'ŏn, conceived by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, turned the tide in favour of the UN troops, who advanced near the border of North Korea and China. The Chinese then entered the war and drove the UN forces back south; the front line stabilized at the 38th parallel. MacArthur insisted on voicing his objections to U.S. war aims in a public manner and was relieved of his command by Truman. U.S. Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in the conclusion of an armistice that accepted the front line as the de facto boundary between the two Koreas. The war resulted in the deaths of approximately 2,000,000 Koreans, 600,000 Chinese, 37,000 Americans, and 3,000 Turks, Britons, and other nationals in the UN forces.

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Korean, used as a noun or as an adjective, may refer to:

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