I've heard that one difference, though not the only one, between North Korean and the Korean spoken by people who were born in South Korea is the vocabulary.

Is knowing vocabulary from Russian, or languages which get loanwords from Russian, useful for knowing words which occur in North Korean, but not in the Korean spoken by those who were born in South Korea?

More general question, but no mention of the role of Russian: What, if any, are the primary differences between Korean as spoken in the North and that spoken in the South?

5 Answers 5


There are some words borrowed from Russian in North Korean, but not nearly as many as there are words from English in South Korean. The North Korean government has really emphasized their independence, and made efforts to rid their language of "impure elements". So they have sometimes created replacement words for foreign-borrowed words.

So overall, knowledge of Russian will help you a little, but not much.

There are some words of course - usually related to technology. There are some examples here, with the Russian words of origin in Cyrillic - but the rest of the post is in Korean.


North Korea and Russia are strategically close countries, but because North Korea uses the same language as Korea, linguistically it is not helpful to learn Russia

북한과 러시아는 친하지만, 북한과 한국만 같은 언어를 사용하기 때문에, 러시아를 배운다 해도 북한 언어를 배우는 데 아무런 도움이 되지 않는다.


The knowledge of Russian will not help. 문화어 doesn't use Russian words widely, although you can find some of them in the news or everyday speech (뜨락또르 for tractor, 꼴바사, rarely, for sausage, 욜까 for Christmas tree). By the way, many Russian words that were being used in 1950-70-s, aren't used today.

The vast majority of loanwords in North-Korean is also borrowed from English. But their percentage is smaller than in South-Korean. And they usually are different.

English - North - South

meter - 메터 - 미터

ball - 뽈 - 볼

bus - 뻐스 - 버스

pineapple - 파이내플 - 파인애플

television - 텔레비죤 - 텔레비전

Some of the new loanwords (after 1945) are borrowed from German, Polish and other ex-socialist country languages. Their quantity is smaller than Russian words quantity.


As a mathematician, I've observed that North Korean terminology in mathematics and physics is almost exclusively borrowed from Russian. I've seen academic papers in the field published by North Koreans but written in English rife with errors where they fail to properly translate Russian terminology that's been Koreanized back into English. I'd presume much of the North Korean academia is this way. As Harvard is to South Koreans, the Moscow State University is to North Koreans.

No one in South Korea and on this forum would understand North Korean linguistics in full, but I'd assume that unless you're planning to study the natural sciences at the Kim Il Sung University, you probably don't need to understand Russian to be conversational in North Korean.


Arraso is used as alright in Korean language but originated from Slavic language Хорошо (Horosho) meaning good, okay or alright

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    what is your source for this explanation?
    – user17915
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 5:52
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    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 5:52
  • There are many linguistic similarities that occur between various languages by chance. This I'd presume is one of them. Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 10:36

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