|The Korean language, classified as a Ural-Altaic language group which also includes Japanese, Hungarian, Turkish, and Finnish, is spoken by about 70 million people living on the Korean Peninsula and by about 5 million Koreans living in 129 countries all around the world. The Korean language possesses a rich vocabulary borrowed from Chinese characters, like Japanese, even though it has no linguistic relationship with Chinese. This is the same that many European languages include a large number of words of Latin and Greek derivation. The Korean language is a non-tonal language with agglutinative and polysynthetic elements. Phonemes are combined to make a whole syllable, each of which has a single and unified definite meaning or function. Elements of a phrase are joined to form one utterance and can exist independently.
The Korean people have their own language and their own alphabet, Han-geul. This has been a crucial factor in their strong national identity throughout the Korean history. The Korean alphabet was developed by a group of scholars from Jiphyeonjeon at the behest of Sejong the Great (1418-1450), the fourth king of the Choseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and one of the most respected kings in Korean history. Sejong the Great was sympathetic to his people who did not cope well with the Chinese letters which the Korean people, from the Three Kingdoms Period, had to rely on to write. Therefore he was so intent on creating the Korean language, Han-guel, to be used freely by all of his people. In 1446, Han-geul was first announced as "Hunmin Jeongeum," which literally means the "Correct Sounds for the Instruction of the People."
Han-geul, the first language in world history having a recorded date and founder, consists of 10 vowels and 14 consonants. The unique alphabet is considered to be one of the most efficient alphabets in the world. In addition, it is recognized worldwide as a highly scientific writing system that is both an alphabet and a syllable system. For more basic introduction of Han-geul and its practice, please visit this alphabet section.