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
Hanja
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, symbolizing balance, in its center, and four black trigrams selected from the original eight, one toward each corner.

Design and Symbolism[edit]

The flag's background is white, a traditional Korean color. White was common in the daily attire of 19th-century Koreans, and it still appears in contemporary versions of traditional Korean garments, such as the hanbok. The color white represents peace and purity.

The circle in the middle is derived from the philosophy of yin-yang and represents balance in the universe. The red half represents positive cosmic forces, and the blue half represents the opposing negative cosmic forces.

Together, the trigrams represent movement and harmony as fundamental principles. Each trigram (hangeul: [gwae]; hanja: ) represents one of the four classical elements,[1] as described below:

Trigram Korean Name Celestial Body Season Cardinal Direction Virtue Family Natural Element Meaning
geon
(건 / )
heaven
(천 / )
spring
(춘 / )
east
(동 / )
humanity
(인 / )
father
(부 / )
heaven
(천 / )
justice
(정의 / 正義)
ri
(리 / )
sun
(일 / )
autumn
(추 / )
south
(남 / )
justice
(의 / )
daughter
(녀 / )
fire
(화 / )
fruition
(결실 / 結實)
gam
(감 / )
moon
(월 / )
winter
(동 / )
north
(북 / )
intelligence
(지 / )
son
(자 / )
water
(수 / )
wisdom
(지혜 / 智慧)
gon
(곤 / )
earth
(지 / )
summer
(하 / )
west
(서 / 西)
courtesy
(례 / )
mother
(모 / )
earth
(토 / )
vitality
(생명력 / 生命力)

History[edit]

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 absence of a national flag only became an issue for Korea in 1876, during the Joseon Dynasty. Before 1876, Korea did not assert a need for or the importance of a national flag. The issue arose during the negotiations for the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1876, at which the delegate of the Empire of Japan displayed the Japanese national flag, whereas the Joseon Dynasty had no corresponding national symbol to exhibit. At that time, some proposed to create a national flag, but the Korean government looked upon the matter as unimportant and unnecessary. By 1880, the proliferation of foreign negotiations led to the need for a national flag.[3] The most popular proposal was described in the "Korea Strategy" papers, written by the Chinese delegate Huang Zunxian. It proffered to incorporate the flag of the Qing Dynasty of China into that of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. In response to the Chinese proposal, the Korean government dispatched delegate Lee Young-Sook to consider the scheme with Chinese statesman and diplomat Li Hongzhang. Li agreed with some elements of Huang's suggestion while accepting that Korea would make some alterations. The Qing government assented to Li's conclusions, but the degree of enthusiasm with which the Joseon government explored this proposal is unknown.[4]

The issue remained unpursued for a period, re-emerging with the negotiation of the United States–Korea Treaty of 1882, also known as the Shufeldt Treaty. 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]

Specifications[edit]

Dimensions[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]

Colors[edit]

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]

References[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]