Before coming to South Korea I did not know much about this country and every day of life here is a discovery of some new facts and interesting anecdotes about this culture.
This weekend the Korean flag is up on every mast and even on cars around Seoul (and around the country) as yesterday (15th August) was South Korea’s Independence Day and the country was celebrating its independence from the Japanese occupation (15 August 1945). This weekend the Pope also happens to be in Seoul.
Having seen the flag of South Korea before I was not aware of its meaning and symbolism but recently I read some information about it and I was extremely fascinated by the deep meaning of its design.
The flag of South Korea is also known as Taegugki (태극기) a word that corresponds to the Korean pronunciation of the Chinese characters of太極 [pinyin = tàijí]). Taegugk is a symbol signifying opposite and complimentary forces of the universe; a concept derived from the Yin & Yang philosophy. The flag is composed of a white background symbolising peace and purity, a red and blue Taegugk at the centre and four black trigrams (Kwae) positioned around the Taegugk symbolising four philosophical classical elements.
Each Kwae starting from the top left and moving clockwise represents a number of elements as follows:
- Heaven, Spring, East and Virtue
- Moon, Winter, North, Knowledge/Wisdom
- Sun, Autumn, South, Courtesy
- Earth, Summer, West, Justice
There is a lot more information on the meaning and history of the Korean flag out there. Just google “meaning of the Korean Flag” and you will find plenty.