Korean punctuation

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For the Korean language, South Korea mainly uses a combination of East Asian and European punctuation, while North Korea uses a little more of the East Asian punctuation style.

Traditional Punctuation[edit]

In the traditional Korean system of writing, which was largely based on the Chinese writing system, punctuation was primarily used to make corrections or to help with the understanding of hanja, or Chinese characters.[1] Some of the corrective punctuation marks included (◦) called 끼움표, which was used for inserting, and (▯) called 삭제부 which was used for deleting.[1] The traditional writing system known as gugyeol, used punctuation to interpret Chinese characters in a way Korean speakers could understand.[2][3] One of the marks used in gugyeol was a dot (•) called 역독점, which was used to indicate reading order.[1] The conclusion of an idea or thought was indicated by starting a new line of characters from the top, as opposed to the western style punctuation of periods and commas which had not been introduced yet.[4]

Modern Punctuation[edit]

The modern Korean punctuation system is largely based on European punctuation, with the use of periods (마침표), commas (쉼표), and question marks (물음표).[4][1] Modern Korean is typically written horizontally using European punctuation, however, when it is written vertically, Korean writing tends to follow East Asian punctuation which includes 고리점(。) as a period, 모점(、) as a comma, and 겹낫표(『』) as quotation marks.[1]

Differences from European punctuation[edit]

  • Although commas are also used, especially in a digital environment due to the ease of typing, the interpunct (·) is used for short in-line lists: "사과·배·복숭아·수박은 모두 과일이다." Translation: "Apples, pears, peaches, and watermelons are all fruits."
  • Although the correct way to quote[according to whom?] is to use double quotation marks in South Korea, and guillemets in North Korea, fullwidth quotes such as 『...』 or 「...」 are mostly used when it is written in vertical writing, for effective expression, or just to replace European quotation marks.
  • Many ancient Korean books contain thousands of words with no spaces between them, but when explicitly denoting a pause or break was necessary, judou marks such as "" and "" were used.
  • Since Korean is agglutinative, the rules regarding parentheses and spacing are different from European ones. For example, in the sentence "사과(沙果)는 과일이다", inserting a space in between other letters and the parentheses will be an error, as marks 사과 (apple) as the topic and is not a separate word.
  • The wave dash (~) is used to mark ranges in numbers: 1~10 (일에서 십, one to ten). However, normal dash is also permitted.
  • The tilde may also be used to indicate a long or drawn-out vowel (그렇구나~ or 랄랄라~), usually for comic or cute effect.
  • Certain European punctuation marks, like the apostrophe, colon/semi-colon, and dash are not typically used in written Korean.[5]

North-South differences[edit]

In the North, guillemets and are the symbols used for quotes; in the South, quotation marks are equivalent to the English ones. 『 』 and 「 」, are standard, although , , , and are commonly used.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Lee, Jeon Kyung (2014-12-31). "The Korean Punctuation Systems". Acta Linguistica Asiatica. 4 (1): 29–41. doi:10.4312/ala.4.1.29-41. ISSN 2232-3317.
  2. ^ Yoon, S. T. (2010). "The creation of idu". Korea Journal. 50 (2): 97–123. doi:10.25024/kj.2010.50.2.97 – via the academy of korean studies.
  3. ^ Chung, J. Y. (2010). "The Use of Chinese Characters in Ancient Korea: With a Focus on Texts Transcribed with Chinese-Borrowed Characters". Korea Journal. 50 (2): 35–71. doi:10.25024/kj.2010.50.2.35.
  4. ^ a b Anderson, Paul S. (November 1948). "Korean Language Reform". The Modern Language Journal. 32 (7): 508–511. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4781.1948.tb05918.x.
  5. ^ Lee, Y. O. (2010). "How Is the English Dash to Be Translated into Korean?: Problems of Translation between SOV Language and SVO Language". Translational Studies. 11 (2): 173–202. doi:10.15749/jts.2010.11.2.008 – via Korea Open Access Journals.
  • Lee, J. K. (2014). The korean punctuation systems. Acta Linguistica Asiatica, 4(1), 29–41. https://doi.org/10.4312/ala.4.1.29-41
  • Lim H. J., Zhu X. (2021). A study on the asymmetry of korean-chinese punctuation marks for korean translation education - focusing on comma (,) and period (.). The Language and Culture, 17(1), 179-210. 10.18842/klaces.2021.17.1.008
  • Anderson, P. S. (1948). Korean language reform. The Modern Language Journal, 32(7), 508–511. https://doi.org/10.2307/318420
  • Lee Y. O. (2010). How is the english dash to be translated into korean?. Translational Studies, 11(2), 173-202. 10.15749/jts.2010.11.2.008
  • Yoon, S. T. (2010). The creation of idu. Korea Journal, 50(2), 97–123. https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2010.50.2.97

External links[edit]