Until then, Korea's aristocratic society used Chinese characters, while the government and people used the writing system known as idu (a transcription system of Korean words invented in the eighth century by Silla scholars using Chinese characters).The Chinese writing system requires a basic knowledge of several thousand characters.
The form of Korean spoken around Seoul is regarded as standard.
Major dialects differ mainly in accent and intonation.
Han'gul is easy to learn since each letter corresponds to a phoneme, and Korea now has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. The flag of T'aeguk ("Supreme Ultimate"), symbolizes the basic ideas of east Asian cosmology shared by the peoples in the Chinese culture area.
UNESCO established the King Sejong Literacy Prize in 1988 and offers it annually to an individual or group that contributes to the eradication of illiteracy worldwide. In the center of a white background is a circle divided horizontally in two by an S-shaped line.
Another notable demographic trend is the increasing ratio of the elderly: the 1997 census revealed that 6.3 percent of the total population was 65 years of age or older. Korean is considered part of the Tungusic branch of the Altaic group of the Ural-Altaic language family.
It also has a close relationship to Japanese in general structure, grammar, and vocabulary.Each of them considers Korea to be of major importance to its own security, and since 1945 the United States has had a major security interest in the nation.The peninsula was divided at the 38th Parallel in an agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union at the end of the World War II.Geopolitically, the peninsula is surrounded on three sides by the sea and by Russia, China, and Japan.Korea has suffered from the attempts of these neighboring countries to dominate it, particularly in the twentieth century.Korea is mountainous, and only about 20 percent of the land in the south is flat enough for farming.