is Japanese harder than Korean


Is Japanese harder than Korean? Let us find out the differences and similarities between these languages to get a clearer insight. 

Though many articles claim that Japanese is harder than Korean, there is no definite answer to this question. Many factors can affect your progress while learning a new language, such as grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and writing systems. Of course, your discipline and dedication to learning a new language also play a major role. 

So, whether you’re a language learner or simply curious about the differences between Japanese and Korean, read this article and gain valuable insights into these fascinating languages.

Similarities between Japanese and Korean

Japanese and Korean are two East Asian languages that share similarities due to their historical and cultural connections. These languages have developed independently, but their interactions with the Chinese language and culture have resulted in similarities.

Writing System

One of the most significant similarities between Japanese and Korean is their writing system. Both languages use Chinese characters introduced to Japan and Korea through cultural exchange with China. In Japanese, these characters are called Kanji, while in Korean, they are called Hanja. 


Another similarity between Japanese and Korean is their grammar. Both languages have a similar sentence structure: Subject-Object-Verb (SOV). This means that the subject comes first in a sentence, followed by the object, and then the verb. For instance, in Japanese and Korean, the sentence “I am eating sushi” would be written as “I sushi eating am” or “I eating sushi am.” 


Japanese and Korean also share some similarities in their vocabulary. Both languages have borrowed words from Chinese, which are written in their respective writing systems. For instance, the Korean word for “rice” is “bap,” which is similar to the Japanese word “Gohan,” which also means “rice.”

Differences between Japanese and Korean

Although Japanese and Korean languages share some similarities, they have differences in many aspects, such as grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary.


One of the most significant differences between the Japanese and Korean languages is pronunciation. Japanese has five vowels, while Korean has ten vowels. Some Korean vowels have sounds that do not exist in the Japanese language.

Another significant difference is that the Japanese language has several ways of pronouncing the same character, depending on the context. 

For example, the character “shi” can be pronounced as “she,” “shi,” “su,” or “se,” depending on the word’s context. This feature of Japanese pronunciation can be challenging for language learners to master.


Japanese and Korean languages have different grammar structures. Japanese uses particles to indicate the function of words in a sentence, such as subject, object, and location. On the other hand, Korean uses markers to indicate grammatical relationships between words.


The Japanese language uses three writing systems – Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji – with different purposes. Hiragana and Katakana are used to represent syllables and sounds, while Kanji is used to represent meaning. 

On the other hand, the Korean language uses only one writing system, Hangul, which represents both syllables and meaning.


Japanese and Korean languages have different vocabularies, with some words shared due to their historical and cultural connections. However, Korea has borrowed more words from the Chinese than the Japanese have. 

Korean also has a lot of loanwords from English, such as “coke,” “bus,” and “taxi.” 

Japanese, on the other hand, has more loanwords from Western languages, such as “pizza,” “coffee,” and “hamburger.”

Differences in Politeness Levels

Japanese and Korean languages have different levels of politeness when speaking, which can be a challenge for learners to master.


Teineigo – the polite form of Japanese used in everyday conversations

Kenjougo – used to express humility and show respect towards the listener or the subject of the conversation.

Sonkeigo – the highest level of politeness in Japanese, used to show great respect and honor towards the listener or the subject of the conversation, such as when speaking to superiors, customers, or in formal situations.


Jondaemal – the polite form of Korean used to show respect towards the listener or the subject of the conversation

Banmal – the informal form of Korean used when speaking to friends, family, or people of a similar age or status

Is Japanese harder than Korean?

Now that we have explored the similarities and differences between Japanese and Korean, we can attempt to answer this question “Is Japanese harder than Korean?”.

The answer is subjective and depends on several factors, such as the learner’s native language, motivation, and learning style.

Native Language

The learner’s native language can influence the difficulty of learning Japanese or Korean. For instance, if a person’s native language is Chinese, Korean may be easier to learn because of the similarities in vocabulary and writing systems. However, Japanese may be easier for English speakers because of the similarities in sentence structure.


Another factor that can influence the difficulty of learning Japanese or Korean is motivation. If a person is highly motivated and interested in learning a particular language, they will likely try to learn and overcome difficulties. 

Learning Style

The learner’s learning style can also affect the difficulty of learning Japanese or Korean. Some people learn better through visual aids, while others learn better through listening and speaking. 

Japanese may be more challenging for visual learners because of the multiple writing systems and the need to memorize characters.  Korean may be more difficult for auditory learners because of the different vowel sounds and the need to distinguish between similar-sounding words.

Additional Factors That Can Affect Learning Japanese or Korean

Aside from the learner’s native language, motivation, and learning style, other factors can affect the difficulty of learning Japanese or Korean. These include:

The complexity of grammar rules 

Japanese has a complex system of honorifics and polite language, which can be challenging for learners to master. Korea also has its politeness system, which is generally more straightforward than the Japanese.

Cultural immersion

Immersing oneself in the culture and environment where the language is spoken can greatly aid language learning.  However, it may be easier to find cultural immersion opportunities in Japan than in Korea, as Japan has a more developed tourism industry.

Availability of learning resources

The availability of quality learning resources, such as textbooks, language exchange programs, and language schools, can also affect the ease of learning a language.  Japanese language resources are generally more widely available than Korean ones, especially outside Korea.

Exposure to the language

Regular exposure to the language through media, such as TV shows, movies, and music, can help learners improve their listening and comprehension skills. Japan and Korea have a rich media culture, but Japanese media is more popular and widely available globally.

Pop Culture Influence

Japanese and Korean pop culture has become increasingly popular worldwide in recent years. Anime, K-pop, and K-dramas are a few examples of this cultural phenomenon that has captured worldwide attention. 

Understanding Unique Language

Japanese and Korean pop culture have their unique language, idioms, slang, and cultural references that are only sometimes easily translatable into other languages. 

For instance, certain words or phrases commonly used in anime or K-dramas might differ from English or other languages. By learning the language, individuals can understand the nuances and subtleties of these forms of entertainment, allowing them to engage with them on a deeper level.

Enhancing Appreciation

Understanding the language can also help individuals appreciate the subtleties and intricacies of the culture depicted in Japanese or Korean pop culture. For example, certain cultural references or historical events frequently alluded to in these forms of entertainment may be absent to those unfamiliar with the language and culture.  By learning Japanese or Korean, individuals can better appreciate these references and understand the context in which they are used.

Tips for learning Japanese or Korean:


One of the best ways to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it. You can do this by watching Japanese or Korean movies and TV shows or listening to music in those languages. You can also try to speak with native speakers, either in person or online.


Language learning requires consistency. It is better to practice a little every day than to cram for hours once a week. You can even use free or paid language learning apps to practice daily.


Japanese and Korean both use different writing systems than English. It is important to spend time memorizing the alphabet and characters. Flashcards are a great way to do this.


Japanese and Korean have complex grammar structures that can be difficult for English speakers. It is important to learn the grammar rules early on and practice them regularly.

Practice with a tutor

Language tutors can be a great resource for learning Japanese or Korean. They can provide personalized feedback and help you improve your pronunciation and grammar.

The importance of motivation and mindset in language learning:

  • Intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation
  • Growth mindset vs. fixed mindset
  • Strategies for maintaining motivation and overcoming setbacks

Myths and misconceptions about language learning

  • The idea that language learning is easier for children
  • The belief that some people are naturally gifted at language learning
  • The myth is that fluency requires perfect grammar and pronunciation.

Common mistakes language learners make when studying Japanese or Korean:

Not focusing on pronunciation

Japanese and Korean have different sounds than English. Focusing on pronunciation early on is important to avoid developing bad habits.

Relying too heavily on Romanization

Romanization is the process of writing a language using the Roman alphabet. While it can be helpful for beginners, it is important to learn Japanese and Korean writing systems as soon as possible.

Not practicing listening comprehension

Japanese and Korean can be difficult to understand when spoken at native speed. It is important to practice listening comprehension regularly.

Not learning the cultural context

Language is closely tied to culture. It is important to learn about the culture and customs of Japan and Korea to better understand the language.

Trying to translate word-for-word

Japanese and Korean both have different sentence structures than English. Learning sentence structures and relying on something other than word-for-word translation is important.

Strategies for improving language proficiency

Language exchange – Find a language exchange partner who is a native speaker of Japanese or Korean and practices speaking with them regularly.

Use media – Watch Japanese or Korean movies and TV shows, or listen to music in those languages to improve listening comprehension.

Read extensively – Reading Japanese or Korean books, articles, and news can help improve vocabulary and comprehension.

Join language learning communities. – Join online language learning communities or language exchange groups to practice with other learners and get feedback.

Travel to Japan or Korea – Immersing yourself in the language and culture by traveling to Japan or Korea can help improve language proficiency.

Career opportunities for those who speak Japanese or Korean

Proficiency in the Japanese or Korean language can open up various domestic and international career opportunities. In this era of globalization, these languages are increasingly in demand due to the growing influence of East Asia in the world economy. 

Here are some potential career paths for those who speak Japanese or Korean:

Translation and Interpretation

Fluency in Japanese or Korean can lead to job opportunities in translation and interpretation for corporations, government agencies, or freelance translation services.  These jobs require excellent language skills, cultural knowledge, and a deep understanding of the nuances of both languages.


Teaching English in Japan or Korea is a popular choice for those looking to teach abroad. Moreover, bilingual teachers are in demand in international schools, requiring teachers to be fluent in English, Japanese, or Korean.

International Business

Many multinational corporations have business ties in Japan or Korea, and having proficiency in either language can be a valuable asset for those seeking to work in international business. Roles may include business development, marketing, sales, or project management.


The tourism industry is rapidly expanding in both Japan and Korea. Jobs in tourism could range from tour guides to hospitality management. 

Government Jobs

Governments worldwide have diplomatic relations with Japan or Korea, and fluency in either language can lead to jobs in foreign service, international relations, and even intelligence agencies.

Entertainment Industry

Both Japan and Korea have thriving entertainment industries. Fluency in Japanese or Korean can lead to jobs in the music, film, or television industry as an actor, producer, or behind-the-scenes staff.

Debunking the Myth

Language difficulty is a myth perpetuated by cultural stereotypes and biases. There is no objective measure of language difficulty. The perceived difficulty is influenced by factors such as the learner’s native language and exposure to the target language.

Learning any language requires time, effort, and dedication.

  • Learning a new language takes consistent practice and exposure.
  • Making mistakes and learning from them is crucial for improving language skills.

The right resources, motivation, and mindset

  • Resources such as textbooks, apps, and courses can provide structured learning materials.
  • Motivation is crucial for staying committed and engaged.
  • A growth mindset helps learners overcome difficulties and achieve their goals.

Notably, when it comes to language learning, there are many factors to consider, such as the learner’s background, goals, and learning style. Whether Japanese is harder than Korean is a subjective question that cannot be answered definitively. Both languages have unique characteristics and challenges that may make them easier or harder for different learners.

Regardless of which language a learner studies, consistent practice, and the right resources are key to success. One such resource is Denwa Sensei, an AI-powered Japanese language tutor. With its advanced natural language processing technology, DenwaSensei can provide learners personalized feedback and an effective learning experience.


Answering the question, “Is Japanese harder than Korean?” is crucial to dispel the myth that some languages are inherently more challenging than others. Whether one learns Japanese or Korean, success is attainable with perseverance, dedication, and the proper resources. 

Moreover, personal inclinations and interests can significantly influence the ease or pleasure of learning a language. Factors such as the availability and quality of educational tools and the amount of time one is willing to invest should also be considered. 

The difficulty of learning a language is entirely subjective, and what may be challenging for one person may not be for another. Therefore, it is crucial to approach language acquisition with an open mind, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to achieving one’s language objectives.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Verified by MonsterInsights