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Korean Sign Language
Native to "South Korea
"Japanese Sign
  • Korean Sign Language
Language codes
"ISO 639-2 sgn
"ISO 639-3 kvk
"Glottolog kore1273[1]

Korean Sign Language or KSL (Korean: "한국 수화 언어 "韓國手話言語 "Hanguk Suhwa Eoneo or "한국 수어 "韓國手語 "Hanguk Sueo) is the "deaf sign language of "South Korea. It is often referred to simply as "수화 "手話 "suhwa, which means signing in general.

KSL is currently one of the "official languages in "South Korea, besides "Korean.



The beginnings of KSL date from 1889,[2] although standardization efforts have only begun in 2000.[3] The first South Korean school for the deaf was established on April 1, 1913, in Seoul, and it was renamed as the National School for the Deaf in 1945, to be later renamed the Seoul School for the Deaf in 1951.[4]


Although the origins of KSL predate the colonial period, the sign language developed some features in common with Japanese Sign Language (JSL) grammar.[2] KSL is considered part of the "Japanese Sign Language family.[5]


According to the South Korean "Ministry of Health and Welfare, there were 252,779 people with hearing impairment and 18,275 people with language disorders in South Korea as of late 2014.[6] Recent estimated figures for the number of deaf people in South Korea range from 180,000 to 300,000.[7]

Official status[edit]

The Korean Sign Language Law ("한국수화언어법 "韓國手話言語法 "Hanguk Suhwa Eoneo Beop), which was adopted on 3 February 2016 and came into force on 4 August 2016, established Korean Sign Language as an official language for the deaf in South Korea equal in status with "Korean. The law also stipulates that the national and local governments are required to provide translation services in Korean Sign Language to deaf individuals who need them.[8]

The Korean Sign Language is managed and catalogued by the "National Institute of the Korean Language (NIKL), which is a government agency tasked with providing authoritative commentary on Korean language in general. The NIKL, along with the "Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, has worked to standardize KSL starting in 2000, publishing the first official KSL dictionary in 2005, as well as a common phrasebook by 2012.[3]

A searchable, online dictionary for KSL can be found at a NIKL webpage.

Functional markers[edit]

KSL, like other sign languages, incorporates non-manual markers with lexical, syntactic, discourse, and affective functions. These include brow raising and furrowing, frowning, head shaking and nodding, and leaning and shifting the torso.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Korean Sign Language". "Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  2. ^ a b Fischer, Susan et al. (2010). "Variation in East Asian Sign Language Structures" in Sign Languages, p. 501., p. 501, at "Google Books
  3. ^ a b Lee, Hyun Hwa (February 2017). "한국수어 정비 사업" (PDF). 국립국어원. 
  4. ^ "서울맹학교 학교역사". Seoul School for the Deaf. Retrieved September 5, 2017. 
  5. ^ Fischer, p. 499., p. 499, at "Google Books
  6. ^ Cited in "「한국수화언어법」 국회 통과로 27만여 농인 언어권 보장", the press release for the Korean Sign Language Law from the South Korean "Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, 4 January 2016
  7. ^ http://aasl.aacore.jp/wiki/South_Korea
  8. ^ The original text of the legislation in Korean can be viewed here: http://www.law.go.kr/%EB%B2%95%EB%A0%B9/%ED%95%9C%EA%B5%AD%EC%88%98%ED%99%94%EC%96%B8%EC%96%B4%EB%B2%95/(13978,20160203)
  9. ^ Fischer, p. 507., p. 507, at "Google Books


External links[edit]

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