By Kim Da-ye
Korean is the 13th most widely language in the world, according to the National Institute of the Korean Language, Wednesday.
The institute said Korean's global ranking in terms of the number of speakers jumped to 13th from 18th, citing survey results from language research website Ethnologue.
Korean is spoken by 77.2 million speakers in five countries.
The 77.2 million Korean language speakers include 48.4 million South Koreans, 23.3 million North Koreans, 2.71 million in China, 905,000 in Japan and 42,400 in Russia. The population also comprises Korean speakers living abroad including Koreans in the U.S.
Korean is ranked just behind the standard German, spoken in Germany and 17 other countries, and before French, spoken by 75 million in France and 50 other countries.
The five most spoken languages are Chinese with 1.2 billion speakers, Spanish with 414 million, English with 335 million, Hindi with 260 million and Arabic with 237 million.
The institute said in a press release that Korean's ranking improved because it requested last November the Ethnologue to update its data with the latest one from Statistics Korea.
The previous edition was based on the population of South and North Korea in 1986. It increased from 66.4 million to 77.2 million, the institute said.
The Ethnologue accepted the suggestion, and applied changes in the latest date unveiled on April 30, the institute said.
"Korean and Turkish are the only two languages whose number of speakers increased by more than 10 million in this update. And they are the only languages that had climbed up by five ranks or more," the institute said.
Before the update was made, Korean was behind Telugu, Marathi, Tamil and Vietnamese.
The Ethnologue is run by SIL International, a Christian non-profit organization based in Dallas, Texas.