Flag of South Korea
South Korea.svg
Adopted January 25, 1950 [1]
Designed by Bak Yeong-hyo [2]
Proportions 2:3 [3]

The flag of South Korea has a white background, four groups of black lines(trigrams) and a red-and-blue "yin-yang"(a.k.a. Taegeuk) shape.


There is a lot of meaning in the Korean flag, which is also called Taegeukgi (referring to the Yin and Yang halves of the circle in the center of the flag.

The flag consists of three parts: the white background, the red and blue circle in the center and four trigrams, one in each corner of the flag. 

The white background of the flag means peace.  The red and blue circle in the center refers to the origin of all things in the universe. The central thought is perfect harmony and balance: A continuous movement within the sphere of infinity, resulting in one unit. The blue part is called 'Eum' or in Chinese, Yin, and represents all negative aspects of the balance while the red part is called 'Yang' and describes all the positive apects. The circle itself represents unity - bringing together the negative and the positive, while the Yin and Yang represent the duality. Examples of duality are heaven and hell, fire and water, life and death, good and evil, or night and day

The four trigrams at the corners (called 'Kwe' in Korean) also communicate the concept of opposites and balance. Representing the four classical elements, the The trigrams are heaven (upper-left 3 solid bars), fire (bottom left corner - 2 solid bars with split middle bar), water (top right corner - 2 split bars with solid middle bar) and earth (bottom right - 3 split bars).  

Symbolic of the nation is the white background (the land), the circle (people), and the four trigrams (the government). All three make up the essential elements of the nation.


Japan presented the Japanese national flag, and the Joseon Dynasty did not have a corresponding flag to hang, it was proposed, but not with great priority, that a Korean flag be designed.

The escalation of foreign negotiations in the following years further prompted the necessity for a national flag. One of these proposals was described in the “Korea Strategy” papers written by the Chinese delegate Huang Zunxian. The plan suggested incorporating the flag of the Qing Dynasty into the flag of the Joseon Dynasty. Lee Young-Sook, a delegate of the Joseon Dynasty, was sent to discuss the issue with politician Li Hongzhang, who agreed with the idea, but suggested some changes of his own. It is unknown how far the Joseon government explored this proposal thereafter.

South Korean flags wave proudly on Korea’s National Liberation Day

The issue reemerged in 1882, when Lee Eung-Jun, a Joseon delegate, presented a flag similar to Japan’s to the Chinese official and scholar Ma Jianzhong. Ma disagreed with the proposed idea of using the flag of the Qing Dynasty and suggested instead a flag with a white background; a half-red, half-black circle at the center and eight black bars around the circle.

On August 22, 1882, Korean politician Park Yeong-hyo presented a scale model of the Taegeukgi to the Joseon government, and soon became the first person to use the flag in the Empire of Japan later that year. In March 1883, the Joseon government formally established the Taegeukgi as the official national flag.

A version similar to the current South Korean flag continued to be used up until the division of Korea, when each country then used its own flag. On October 15, 1949, the current South Korean flag was declared official by the country’s government, although it had been used as the de facto national flag for some time before then. Later on, in October 1997, the exact colors of the flag were defined through presidential decree.


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