The language

All the Koreans speak and write the same language, and this factor was determining in the reinforcement of the national identity. The modern Korean declines himself in several dialects of which that of Seoul and its areas of the center; they are however rather similar so that those which speak them can be understood between them.


Linguistic and ethnological studies established the membership of Korean to the Ural-Altaic languages of Central Asia, among which one also counts Turkish, Hungarian, Finnish, Mongolian, Tibetan and Japanese. Korean looks like Japanese from his grammatical structure, and both borrowed many Chinese words.

The Korean alphabet, called hangul, was created in XVth century by a group of scientists under the patronage of king Sejong the Great (reign: 1418-1450), fourth monarch of the dynasty Choson (1392-1910). Before the invention of these simple phonic symbols, Korean was written by means of Chinese characters which belong to a completely different linguistic system. Only some privileged aristocrats arrived to a control of the Chinese literature whose study took much time.

The Korean alphabet, considered as one of the most scientific written forms used in the world, consists of 10 vowels and 14 consonants which combine to form many syllables.


a ya o_c yo_c o yo u yu u_c i
a ya ô o yo u yu û i


k n t l m p s ng ch ch_c
k, g n t, d r, l m p, b s, sh ng ch, j ch'
k_c t_c p_c h
k' t' p' h

The hangul, simple but systematic and complete, is easy to learn and print, which mainly explains the high rate of literacy of Korea as well as the development of the book-related industries. Moreover, it adapts easily to the information processing systems.


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