History of the Korean Flag
Did you know that originally Korea didn't even want to have a flag? The Korean flag has a really interesting and unique history. Find out why the flag was made, what all of its symbols mean, and more.
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History of the Korean Flag
The Korean flag has a name in Korean - it's called 태극기 ("tae-geuk-gi").
And the Korean flag has a unique history. First, it's not very old.
It was first created and introduced to Korea in 1882. This year is the flag's 134th birthday.
Before 1882, Korea didn't have any flag. Korea also didn't care about having a flag, because they didn't see any reason to.
However, the government noticed that many other countries had flags, and they wanted a way to distinguish themselves from other countries.
So they thought about using China's flag as their own flag. After all, Korea and China had a good relationship with each other at the time. They decided not to do this because it would not be very original, and instead wanted to make their own flag.
It didn't take long for the government to create a new flag, and it was finished the same year and officially recognized as Korea's flag in 1883.
Colors of the Flag
The Korean flag’s colors are white, black, red, and blue.
The white color represents purity. Also, at the time the flag was made, many Koreans wore clothes that were white. In a way, the white color of the flag also represents the citizens of Korea.
The center colors are blue and red. These colors wrap together and form the Chinese symbol of yin and yang. In Korean, yin and yang are called 음양 ("eu-myang") [This is written as 陰陽 in Chinese].
The red color on the top (양 - "yang") represents light.
The blue color on the bottom (음 - "eum") represents darkness.
Together, light and darkness symbolize balance.
A trick to remember how to draw the yin and yang is to think of the red on top as the sun, which floats above a blue ocean on the bottom.
The Korean flag also has four sets of three parallel black lines on its corners. These four sets of lines on the Korean flag are called 건곤감리 ("geon-gon-gam-ni").
Each of these sets of three lines is also known as a trigram. A trigram is three letters or three things that represent something else. And each trigram on the Korean flag has a different meaning and represents a different concept.
The top left symbol represents heaven.
The top right symbol represents the earth.
The bottom left symbol represents the sun.
The bottom right symbol represents the moon.
Diagonally, heaven is contrasted with the earth, and the sun is contrasted with the moon. Combined together, these four trigrams show harmony between the elements - heaven and the earth, and the sun and the moon.
Meaning of the Flag
So the yin and yang symbol of the flag shows balance, and the four trigrams on the flag symbolize harmony.
Together, the meaning of the Korean flag is balance and harmony - in the world, in nature, and among each other. Pretty cool, huh?
Don't worry if you're not able to draw the flag correctly on your own. In fact, even many Koreans are unable to draw the four trigrams correctly. However, every Korean knows that the yin and yang is drawn with the red part on the top and the blue part on the bottom. At the very least, if you're drawing the Korean flag, remember to draw the yin and yang the right way and you'll be okay.
If you have any questions for me, you can also comment below this article. I love teaching Korean, and I'd love to help you.
If you're learning Korean for the first time, check out my book here. --> Korean Made Simple: A beginner's guide to learning the Korean language
Also visit my YouTube channel, where I upload videos about Korea and Korean every week. --> GO! Billy Korean on YouTube