Flag of South Korea

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Republic of Korea
Flag of South Korea.svg
Name Taegukgi / Taegeukgi
(Korean: 태극기)
(Hanja: )
Use National flag and ensign
Proportion 2:3
Adopted January 27, 1883 (original version used by the Korean Empire)
August 15, 1948 (Republic of Korea establishment)
October 1997 (current version)
Naval Jack of South Korea.svg
Variant flag of Republic of Korea
Use Naval Jack
Flag of South Korea
Hangul 태극기
Revised Romanization Taegeukgi
McCune–Reischauer T'aegŭkki

The flag of South Korea, also known as the Taegukgi (also spelled as Taegeukgi, literally "Taeguk flag"), has three parts: a white rectangular background, a red and blue Taeguk in the center that symbolizes a balance, and four black trigrams, which are selected from the original eight, on each corner of the flag.


The flag's background is white, which is a traditional Korean color, common to the daily attire of 19th century Koreans and the color is also use for a traditional Korean wear (hanbok). It represents peace and purity. The circle in the middle is derived from the philosophy of yin-yang and represents the balance of the universe. The blue section represents the negative cosmic forces, and the red section represents the opposing positive cosmic forces. The trigrams together represent the principle of movement and harmony. Each trigram (hangeul: [gwae]; hanja: ) represents one of the four classical elements.[1]

These four trigrams are described in the table below:

Name in Korean Nature Seasons Cardinal directions Four virtues Family Four elements Meanings
(건 / )
(천 / )
(춘 / )
(동 / )
(인 / )
(부 / )
(천 / )
(정의 / 正義)
(리 / )
(일 / )
(추 / )
(남 / )
(의 / )
(녀 / )
(화 / )
(결실 / 結實)
(감 / )
(월 / )
(동 / )
(북 / )
(지 / )
(자 / )
(수 / )
(지혜 / 智慧)
(곤 / )
(지 / )
(하 / )
(서 / 西)
(례 / )
(모 / )
(토 / )
(생명력 / 生命力)


The earliest surviving depiction of the flag was printed in a U.S. Navy book Flags of Maritime Nations in July 1882.[2]
A portrait of Kim Il-sung and the Taegukgi in 1948. The flag was also used in the North before the division.

The lack of the national flag only became an issue in 1876, in the Joseon Dynasty. Before 1876, a national flag did not exist and it was not considered important. The issue began during the negotiations for the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1876. Although the delegate of the Empire of Japan had the Japanese national flag, the Joseon Dynasty could not hang a corresponding flag. Thus, there were some proposals to create a flag, but the issue was considered unimportant by the government. At 1880, the proliferation of foreign negotiations led to a need for the national flag.[3] The most major proposal was described in the ‘Korea Strategy’ papers written by the Chinese delegate Huang Zunxian. The proposal was to incorporate the Flag of the Qing Dynasty for the Joseon Dynasty. In response to the proposal, the government sent the delegate of Lee Young-Sook to explore the possibility of the issue through the politician Li Hongzhang. Li Hongzhang agreed with some parts of the proposal, but proposed that some other factors should be differed. The Qing Dynasty agreed with Li Hongzhang, but it is unknown how far the Joseon government explored this proposal.[4]

The issue was then shelved but reemerged with the ratification of the United States–Korea Treaty of 1882. The controversy arose after the delegate Lee Eung-Jun presented a flag similar to the flag of Japan to the Chinese official Ma Jianzhong. In response to the discussion, Ma Jianzhong argued against the proposed idea of using the flag of the Qing Dynasty and proposed a flag with a white background, with a half-red and half-black circle in the center, with eight black bars around the flag.[4] On August 22, 1882, Park Yeong-hyo created a scale model of the Taegukgi to the Joseon government. Park Yeong-hyo became the first person to use the Taegukgi in the Empire of Japan in 1882.[5] On January 27, 1883, the Joseon government officially promulgated Taegukgi to be used as the official national flag.[4]

In 1919, a flag similar to the current South Korean flag was used by the Korean government-in-exile based in China.

After the restoration of Korean independence in 1945, the Taegukgi remained in use after the southern portion of Korea became a democratic republic under the influence of the United States but also used by the People's Republic of Korea. Following the establishment of the Republic of Korea in August 1948, the current flag was declared official by the government of South Korea on October 15, 1949,[4] although it had been used as the de facto national flag before then..[6]

In October 1997, the exact colors of the flag were specified via presidential decree.

Historical progression of designs[edit]



Flag construction sheet

The width and height are in the ratio of 3 to 2. There are five sections on the flag, the taegeuk and the four groups of bars. The diameter of the circle is half of the height. The top of the taegeuk should be red and the bottom of the taegeuk should be blue. The groups of bars are put in the four corners of the flag.[8]


The colors of the Taegukgi are specified in the "Ordinance Act of the Law concerning the National Flag of the Republic of Korea." (Korean: 대한민국 국기법 시행령)[9] There were no exact specifications regarding the colors until 1997, when the South Korean government decided to provide standard specifications for the flag. In October 1997, a Presidential ordinance on the standard specification of the South Korean flag was promulgated,[10] and that specification was acceded by the National Flag Law in 2007.

The colors are defined in legislation by the Munsell and CIE color systems:

Scheme Munsell[11] CIE (x, y, Y)[11] Pantone[11] Hex triplet[11]
White N 9.5 N/A N/A #FFFFFF
Red 6.0R 4.5/14 0.5640, 0.3194, 15.3 186 Coated #C60C30
Blue 5.0PB 3.0/12 0.1556, 0.1354, 6.5 294 Coated #003478
Black N 0.5 N/A N/A #000000

Similar versions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved November 4, 2013. 
  2. ^ United States. Navy Dept. Bureau of Navigation (1882). Flags of maritime nations: from the most authentic sources. Bureau of Navigation. p. 16. 
  3. ^ "대한민국[Republic of Korea,大韓民國]" (in Korean). Doosan Corporation. Retrieved November 5, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d 태극기 [Taegukgi] (in Korean). Academy of Korean Studies. Retrieved November 5, 2013. 
  5. ^ 태극-기太極旗 [Taeguk-gi] (in Korean). NAVER Corp. Retrieved November 5, 2013. 
  6. ^ "National Flag of North Korea". Worldflags 101. Retrieved November 5, 2013. 
  7. ^ https://www.britannica.com/topic/flag-of-South-Korea, http://www.christusrex.org/www3/fotw/flags/kr_hist.html, http://fotw.fivestarflags.com/kr_hist.html, http://destinationsouthkorea.weebly.com/flag-history.html
  8. ^ Flag Production - National Archives of Korea
  9. ^ 대한민국국기법 시행령 [The law concerning practice for the flag of the Republic of Korea] (in Korean). LAWnB. Retrieved November 5, 2013. 
  10. ^ Stray_Cat421 (June 18, 2003). "Standard specification of Tagukgi". Naver (in Korean). South Korea: Naver. Retrieved March 1, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b c d 깃면 [Geometry of the National Flag] (in Korean). Ministry of Public Administration and Security. 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 

External links[edit]