Korean National Flag (Taegukgi)
Updated: May 26
Have you seen this flag before?
Do you know which country's national flag this is?
It is called Taegukgi (태극기) and it is a national flag of Korea.
Although I am from Korea, I never gave much thought to our national flag. I thought it was just a flag, right?
However, after living abroad for so many years and meeting a lot of people who were interested in Korea, our culture, language, and food, etc., I became interested as well.
As I studied more about Korea in order to explain things to my friends, it became fascinating! I also became more proud of where I come from.
So, back to the flag, let me explain what the Korean national flag, called Taegukgi (태극기), represents!
First, the white background of the flag represents brightness, purity, and innocence, which reflects the traditional love of peace among Koreans.
Then, the circle in the middle with blue at the bottom and the red on top represents ying and yang, which is central to traditional Korean philosophy. It symbolizes harmony and balance, and embodies the truth that everything in the universe is created and exists through interactions between Yin (the positive cosmic energy) and Yang (the negative cosmic energy)
There are four sets of black bars in each corner and each of them represents the images of Yin and yang, changing and interacting with each other.
From the top left (clockwise), it is called 건 (Geon) 감 (Gam) 곤 (Gon) 리 (Li)
건 'Goen' symbolizes 'heaven, sky, air'
곤 'Gon' symbolizes 'earth'
감 'Gam' symbolizes 'water'
리 'Li' symbolizes 'fire'
In other words, they represent the four elements of the world.
It can also represent the four seasons (winter, spring, summer, and fall) as well as four directions (east, west, south, and north).
These symbols, along with the yin and yang shape in the middle of Taegukgi, reflect the Korean ideal of promoting creation in harmony and prosperity while keeping in sync with the Universe.
I really love the meaning behind it because, in many cases, national flags simply represent the land, power, or symbol of the country. However, the Teagukgi shows the love of nature (the universe) and the will of the people, which is to live well together, following nature's flow.