Day 24: Speaking in Tongues

Many people assume that North Korea and South Korea speak the same language, but that would not be a correct assumption. Language is alive and develops as societies develop. After more than seven decades of separation, North Korea and South Korea have a linguistic divide that continues to grow further apart. Many experts claim that North Korean is interesting for linguists because it’s essentially a country-wide experiment in isolation, evolving on a closed island, but that is not true.

The North Korean language has borrowed many words from Russian and China while South Korea has borrowed many words from America. South Korean has developed a modern efficient language while North Korea has been left in a time zone of days long gone. For instance, South Koreans would say “computer,” but a North Korea would say “electronic computation machine.” For many North Koreans that defect to the south, the hardest part of adjusting to modern life is not learning about the Internet, mobile phones, and electronic self-cleaning toilet seats, but language.

It is estimated that a North Korean student can understand less than 50% of a South Korean text book when they arrive in South Korea. Here are a few examples of the differences:


It is virtually impossible to share the Gospel in North Korea unless one knows the language. That is why the BTJ missionaries study the North Korean dialect prior to going in to the country. It is not easy to find teachers that can teach the North Korean dialect, so there is a lot of prayer needed for them.

BTJ missionaries are currently studying the North Korean language, but they are not studying in official universities. They are in private apartments, village homes, and farming communities partaking in unofficial linguistic studies that have not been approved by the government.

Prayer Points:

  • The languages between North and South Korea have gone in different directions over the last 70 years
  • The North Korean language might be backwards for modern society, but it is their heart language and the way to reach their people
  • Pray that more missionaries can learn their languages and take the Gospel to their people
  • Pray that more Christian resources can be made available in the North Korean dialect

Today’s Scripture Reading:

Revelation 10:10-11
And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.