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The Koreans are one
ethnic family speaking one language. They share certain distinct physical
characteristics which differentiate them from other Asian people including the
Chinese and the Japanese, and have a strong cultural identity as one ethnic
Korean language is spoken by more than 65 million people living on the peninsula
and its outlying islands as well as 5.5 million Koreans living in other parts of
the world. The fact that all Koreans speak and write the same language has
been a crucial factor in their strong national identity. Modern Korea has
several different dialects including the standard one used in Seoul and central
areas, but they are similar enough that speakers/listeners do not have trouble
understanding each other.
and ethnological studies have established that the Korean language belongs to
the Ural-Altaic group of Central Asia, which also includes Turkish, Hungarian,
Finnish, Mongolian and Japanese.
like Japanese, also includes a rich vocabulary borrowed from Chinese in the same
way many European languages includes a large number of words of Latin and Greek
derivation. Han-gul, the Korean alphabet (originally called Hunmin
chong-um) was invented in 1446 by a group of scholars under the patronage of
King Sejong, and consists of 10 vowels and 14 consonants which are used to form
numerous syllabic groupings. Han-gul is easy to learn and write,
which has greatly contributed to the high literary rate of Koreans.
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