Just like any other flag, the South Korean flag has a deeper meaning than what you see. The flag has a white background with a red and blue symbol at the center.
The white color is a symbol of peace and purity. The circle at the center represents a balance of the forces that exist in the universe. There are also four sets of black bars at each corner of the flag.
The four trigrams are symbolic of harmony and movement, with each having its own meaning. They symbolize heaven, earth, water, and fire. In essence, the Korean flag is a perfect representation of the harmony or balance that all things in life bring to humanity.
The people of South Korea take a lot of pride in their flag. Just having it raised up is an indication of their aspirations rising above everything else. Simply put, it gives them a sense of purpose.
It’s a reminder of where they have come from and a vision of where they are going. The South Korean flag is so significant that Taekwondo athletes wear it as their Taekwondo flag.
Taekwondo, a Korean martial art, has the Korean flag as a representation of its origin. Indeed, the philosophy of Taekwondo is deeply embedded in the South Korean flag. Certainly, there’s more that the flag stands for that is worth delving into.
The Creation of the South Korean Flag
Before the 1870s, Korea never had a national flag, and neither did the country see the need for one. The need came to the surface in 1876 during the talks for the Japan-Korea Treaty.
As a result, the Korean national flag was adopted in 1882 and the government established it formally in 1883. The division of Korea at the end of the Second World War in 1945 meant that each country had to use its own flag.
Both North and South Korea designed independent flags after the division. It was on October 15, 1949 that the then government officially declared the current South Korean flag a national symbol of unity.
However, it’s important to take note that even before the flag was officially declared before the South Korean people, it was still being used as the national flag.
It’s important to point out that the South Korean flag is seen as a representation of the Korean people as a whole, and not for the South Korean nation-state only. The flag has continued to bring a sense of pride and significance to all South Koreans from different walks of life.
For information on the history of TaeKwonDo, check out my post
The Meaning of the Bars on the Korean Flag
The bars on the Korean flag have a deeper meaning that is worth exploring. The bars bring the idea of opposites and balance. The bars symbolize the following: heaven (upper left corner), fire (bottom left corner), water (upper right corner), and earth (bottom right corner).
The design of the flag shows that the bars representing heaven are directly opposite the bars representing earth. Also, the bars representing water are directly opposite the bars representing fire.
The bars are symbolic of essential virtues like humanity, fairness, intellect, courteousness, fruition, and vitality. A deeper look at the bars brings the concept of balance between the physical and spiritual worlds so as to create the much-needed harmony.
In regards to the martial art of Taekwondo, the South Korean flag brings the same connotations as well. Taekwondo athletes respect the flag greatly to the extent that it’s adopted as the Taekwondo flag.
Just like the bars on the Korean flag, Taekwondo athletes wearing the flag believe in the concept of opposites. In essence, a competitor in Taekwondo will either attack or yield.
This is a demonstration of how the concept of balance comes into play. Thus, the symbolic representation of the Korean flag reveals that Taekwondo is not only a style of combat, but also a way of life.
Why Is The Korean Flag Hung Vertically?
The Korean flag is hanged vertically so that it can maintain its significance and meaning. The symbols of the flag are designed strategically at different positions for a reason. For example, the four bars surrounding the flag at the four corners are symbolic, so they have to be hanged in a vertical way.
Therefore, the Korean flag is hung vertically by ensuring that the top left corner still remains at the top left while the top right corner remains at the right.
Irrespective of where one is hanging it, it should remain like that so that the symbols remain at their positions. In case the positions are shifted, the placement of the symbols will change and the original meaning will be lost.
The Color Blue In The Flag of South Korea
The color blue has a distinctive meaning in Korea. It stands for attributes like cool, passivity, compliant, and receptive. It is associated with feminine energy, which is known to be gentle, compared to a highly passionate energy, which is associated with the color red. Also, blue has been used on the Korean flag to symbolize a particular aspect.
Blue, on the Korean flag, is referred to as um. Blue appears at the symbol in the middle of the flag. The circle is half red and half blue. The symbol stands for the balance between opposing forces. In this regard, blue symbolizes the negative opposing forces while red represents the positive opposing forces. Examples of the forces include: light-dark and good-evil.
Final Thoughts on the Flag of Korea
Without a doubt, a flag has a deeper meaning that drives the actions and beliefs of those to whom the flag belongs. The South Korean flag has a fundamental meaning to the citizens of the nation.
Since its declaration as the South Korean national flag, it’s evident that the values, beliefs, aspirations, and ideals of South Koreans are embedded in the meanings that it carries. For example, Taekwondo has a significant connection to the flag.
The principles and ideals of the martial art are in line with what the flag stands for. In fact, the origin of Taekwondo is attributed to the Korean flag. That is why Taekwondo athletes respect it. Certainly, the South Korean flag is not only a symbol of where the country has come from, but also a representation of the nation’s future.