Korea has its own language and alphabet. This simple fact stands as one of the strong contributing factors that hold this nation's people together under shared roots and national identity. Linguistic and ethnological studies reveal that the Korean language belongs to the Altaic language family that includes Turkic, Mongolic and Tungus-Manchu languages.
The Korean alphabet Hangeul, in which each character represents one syllable, was invented solely by the scholar-king Sejong the Great (1397-1450) for the convenience of the ordinary people. Modern Hangeul consists of 10 vowels and 14 basic consonants that can be combined into numerous syllables. Noted as the world's most scientific writing system, it was designated by UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme as a global documentary heritage in 1997.