Can Japanese Understand Korean?

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Japanese people do not understand Korean even though Japan and Korea are next to each other geographically and may share a few similar words.

These two languages originate from two separate countries and are unrelated.

Writing Korean
Writing style Korean

One must learn or study the language to communicate in Korean and vice versa.

Most people assume the cultures are also the same.

Japan is more prominent than Korea, although both countries were greatly influenced by cultural Chinese during trade and regional disputes.

What Is the Similarity Between Japanese and Korean Languages?

The structure of sentences and particle use for both languages is similar.

However, if the two sat together to speak, they would find it quite challenging to understand each other. 

Learning Japanese language
Korean & Japanese language similarities

Both languages’ words writing is a basis of the Chinese characters.

Their grammar is alike in how they structure subject to object to verb, and pronouns set-up is identical.

Both people have a similarly straightforward and tiered honorific system used to address senior people in society courteously.

Learning either of the dialects as a second language is easier for Japanese and Koreans.

Is Japanese and Korean Culture Similar?

China influenced both countries’ cultures, languages, technology, writing system, and food.

The two societies follow Buddhism and the Chinese Confucius philosophy and principles in their social practices.

They all value a positive, hardworking public image, and earlier trade between the two countries has led to growth in international business. 

The education system is highly cutthroat in both countries, although the Japanese require all students to learn English in secondary schools.

The majority of the people can understand a bit of English apart from the elderly.

Korean culture is popular among the younger generation, and many of them are learning the language in colleges and universities.

Can Japanese Learn Korean Quickly?

As Japanese have termed their language one of the most challenging dialects, learning Korean as a second language is more manageable.

Does Knowing Japanese help Korean?
Can Japanese Learn Korean Quickly?

Korean grammar is easier than Japanese, and speaking the language first is recommended before writing.

For English Speakers – Learning Korean is straightforward as the writing system is simple. One can hold brief conversations with others in about three months if they take daily lessons.

Speaking fluently and writing it well can take up to a year of regular study.

Does Knowing Japanese help Korean?

Koreans can learn Japanese quickly.

Most of the older generation Koreans had to learn Japanese towards the second world war.

The current younger generation only chooses to master it if they are interested in visiting, living, or working in Japan. 

Korean girl smiling
Korean learning Japanese language

Japan is a vast, technologically, and economically advanced country than Korea.

The music and film scene in Japan is widely popular in Korea, and, hence, the population that understands a bit of Japanese enjoy the internationally acclaimed content.

For effective communication with Japanese tourists, Koreans learn basic communication skills.

Which Is Harder; Japanese Or Korean?

The grammar in Japanese is more complex than in Korean and hence, considered harder to learn.

However, the level of difficulty varies from one learner to the other.

Learning Korean language
Writing Styles of Japanese and Korean language

Some people will learn either language in less than three months, while it may take others up to two years to master it.

Unlike other Asian languages, Korean does not rely on tones. Therefore, different accents have an easier time learning Korean than Japanese.

Good to Know: Another advantage is the Korean alphabet has only 24 letters, unlike Japanese, which has 46 letters. These advantages, therefore, give the impression that learning Korean is easier.

How Different are the Writing Styles of Japanese and Korean?

Despite having a strong influence from the Chinese, the writing system for both languages differs a lot. 

Koreans can learn Japanese quickly
Learning foreign language

The Japanese have three systems, namely:

  1. Kanji. Similar to Chinese characters and has over 2,000 symbols frequently used.
  1. Katakana. It has 46 characters, of which five are vowels, forty are consonant and vowel unions, and one singular consonant.
  1. Hiragana. It includes 46 characters and similar sounds to the Katakana.

On the other hand, Koreans write in Hangul, the phonic writing system with 24 letters, ten vowels, and fourteen consonants.

These different systems allow the people to create the various sounds available. 

Is the Pronunciation and Vocabulary of Japanese and Korean Similar?

These languages sound different when spoken.

A Japanese can pick one or two words from a conversation, but this can be challenging.

Korean people can learn Japanese quickly
Happy Korean girl

Despite the languages being very diverse, they share vocabulary that sounds identical. 

A few of the words that sound the same are:

  1. The newspaper in Japanese is known as Shimbun. In the Korean language, it is Sinmun.
  2. Tea in Japanese is known as Ocha. In Korean, it is Cha.

Where Can the Japanese go to Learn Korean?

Although English is mandatory in secondary schools in Japan, most students learn Korean as a second or third language either in college or university.

Learning Japanese tips
Learning Japanese

Most self-taught learners use online courses such as mobile applications, Korean blogs, podcasts, and Korean television.

Students looking to attend physical classes will find programs available in multiple academic institutions.

One of the famous institutions is the Korean YMCA in Japan, which has taught Korean courses and language to Japanese students of all ages for over several decades.

Japanese girls smiling
Happy Japanese girls

Instructors who are native Japanese speakers teach a basic and entry-level course that gives students a basic understanding of the Korean language.

For Higher Advanced Levels – A native Korean tutor is available. They have weekly classes open throughout the year where learners study Korean in five levels.

At the end of the course, one can speak, listen, write, read, and apply Korean in everyday use.

They also conduct short-term studies to prepare students for examinations.

Is Japanese more Useful than Korean?

Japan being a superior nation to Korea culturally, globally recognized Japanese scholars and business professionals who speak their language are acknowledged and admired.

Korean girl smiling
Korean learning Japanese language

Korea is much smaller in comparison, and hence the global expectation is that English is the official second language used.

The Japanese are content with themselves and invest in their own cultural experiences and system.

On the Other Hand – Koreans are keen on advancing their cultural backgrounds and companionship globally. The economy in Japan is larger and more developed, making it authoritative across the world.

However, economists have predicted that South Korea will overtake Japan in the coming years in the country’s economic output per person due to the expanding differences in labor efficiency.

Benefits of Learning Korean

Korea is an industrial economy open to all cultures globally.

Korean girl working hard
Knowing Korean language benefits

Learning the language, although challenging, has several benefits.

  • Korea, especially South Korea, holds year-long festivals and cultural activities that provide a fun and educative experience. 
  • The energetic cities, historical sights of Korea, and clean beaches are perfect holiday destinations for tourists to discover the rich Korean history and culture. 
  • Korea’s music and film industry has emerged among the recent top categories, and fans will enjoy participation if they understand the language. 
  • The fashion world has also seen an increase in Korean statement clothing pieces. These fashion-forward designers provide an array of street clothing for any eager shopper. Browsing their stores is much easier when speaking the attendants’ native language.


As native English-speaking students shared, learning either Japanese or Korean has similar hardship levels.

Nonetheless, if one knows Japanese first, they will quickly understand Korean.

Both languages are terrific to learn, especially if one wants to conduct business, study, work or reside in either country.

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