Unlike Chinese and Japanese, Korean does employ spaces between words.

What constitutes a lexical word differs from what constitutes an orthographic word. For instance, particles which can is some ways be compared to English prepositions, are written suffixed or cliticized to the end of a word.

My Korean is very rudimentary to say the least but I believe I have seen in printed Korean the particle ("of" or "'s") at the beginning of the next line when the noun it would normally be attached to came at the end of the previous line.

I would like to know is this the only place that Korean orthographic words can be separated? Or can line breaks occur at any position in the middle of a word?

(There is a relevant article on Wikipedia, but it lumps Chinese, Japanese, and Korean together, with Korean receiving the least specific attention.)

  • My evidence turned out to be flawed. I've deleted my answer until I can fix this.
    – acattle
    Nov 28, 2012 at 6:07
  • I'm sorry about the flawed evidence but I'm eagerly awaiting any more such detailed answers, thank you for your effort. Nov 28, 2012 at 6:08
  • @hippietrail Have you taken a look at the Unicode Line Breaking Algorithm? Link: unicode.org/reports/tr14
    – Dono
    Nov 28, 2012 at 7:24
  • While I'm trying to find a better source to back up my [currently deleted] answer, I thought I'd add this link back into the discussion. Although not an academic source, it seems to suggest that line breaks can occur at any point (it warns about possible ambiguities, but it seems to be more of a style issue than a grammatical one)
    – acattle
    Nov 28, 2012 at 15:15
  • @Dono: I was expecting the Unicode link to just contain dry technical jargon, but actually it does seem to claim that both styles exist for Korean. I do trust the Unicode people more than computer people generally when it comes to language issues but I'd still like to hold out for a Korean-specific reference. Nov 29, 2012 at 4:12

1 Answer 1


As others have pointed out in the comments section, the line breaks can occur at any position. This does lead to ambiguity and style issues. If you were to create a MS Word document (in Korean), you will notice its aversion to line break in the middle of a word. I do not remember seeing these kinds of line breaks recently (say, last 2 ~ 3 years). I would imagine I would encounter these more had I been living in Korea and read paper version of daily newspapers.

  • 1
    I had written a similar answer but I deleted it because I was unable to find an appropriate reference. Do you have any grammar books that explicitly state that line breaks can occur anywhere? Or even just some text(s) that show the same word being broke in several places?
    – acattle
    Aug 7, 2013 at 0:28
  • 1
    I did check the official website: korean.go.kr/09_new/index.jsp and it did mention that regarding such matter, the Korean language does not force any kind of rules. I cannot find the reference at the moment but if I do, I will update this comment then. I have looked several copies of newly translated/printed Korean bibles recently and I saw many instances of such line breaks. Here's a PDF link: jw.org/download/…
    – Stephen C
    Oct 4, 2013 at 23:03

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