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The Meaning of the South Korean Flag

A flag is much more than a piece of colored fabric. It represents a nation, its history and values. It is true that some flags are similar or not very original. However, there is meaning behind each of the elements used and it is important that they are representative of the country. Take, for example, the flag of South Korea. You will notice that it is unique, and unlike any other national flag. But what does the South Korean flag mean?

The History of the South Korean Flag

For those who do not know, the flag of South Korea, also called the Taegeukgi, is composed of a rectangular white background with a red and blue circle in the center. Four sets of parallel lines are positioned at each corner of the flag. Contrary to what one might think, it is not a recent flag. The origins of the current flag date back to the end of the 19th century, but its inspiration goes back as far as the 14th century. We would like to mention that South Koreans care a lot about their flag. Even today, there are laws leading to prison sentences in acts of disrespect towards the flag or that of another countries’ flag.

Unlike other nations, Koreans did not find it important to have an official flag until the end of the 19th century. However, there was the coat of arms of the kings of Korea that was used to represent the country. This emblem, composed of a circle and several symbols, is reminiscent of the current flag of South Korea. It was during a treaty with Japan that Korea realized they needed a national flag. The Japanese had arrived with their flag while the Koreans had nothing to present on their side. It was not until 1883 that the Taegeukgi, the national flag of Korea, was accepted as the official flag of the country. There were few changes thereafter, except the circle that has been simplified over the years. After the end of the Korean War, South Korea decided to keep the traditional Korean flag as its national flag.

 Joseon - Wikipedia 

The Meaning of the Flag

First, let's talk about the four sets of parallel lines located at the corners of the South Korean flag. They are called trigrams, a figure composed of three superimposed strokes used in Asian cultures to represent elements of harmony. The trigram at the top left is called the geon and is associated with both air in the spring, east and justice. The trigram at the bottom left is called the ri and represents fire, south, autumn and fertility. The trigram at the top right is the gam. It is associated with winter, north, water and wisdom. Finally, the trigram at the bottom right is the gon and represents the earth, summer, west and vitality. There are strict rules regarding the measurements and distances between the different elements of this flag.

 Flag of South Korea - Wikipedia

As with many logos, the colors chosen for the South Korean flag have meaning. White is a very important color for Koreans. White was widely used for traditional clothing, in addition to representing peace and purity. The red on the circle represents the positive forces while the negative forces are blue. The whole creates the balance of the universe. It was not until 1997 that color codes were chosen to determine the exact hue for the South Korean flag.  

In addition, the combination of white, red and blue is very popular for national flags. In fact, there are more than 30 countries using this color combination for their flags: to name a few, Australia, France, Cambodia, Chile, Croatia, Norway and the United States. Otherwise, white, red and blue are three colors widely used for flags, but also for corporate logos or sports teams.

 How to Get Inspired by the South Korean Flag for Your Logo

You don't need to use trigrams for your logo; however, you can certainly get inspiration from the South Korean flag. For starters, don't hesitate to use elements related to your history or region. What makes your city or country unique? Are there strong symbols that could inspire you when you create your logo? For example, the animal that represents South Korea is the tiger. If you are in this country or want to reach this clientele, it might be interesting to use this feline as a symbol for your logo. Second, it's important to choose colors that represent your values and who you are. As mentioned above, colors have meaning. The end result must also be harmonious. Finally, we advise you measure the distances between the different elements of your logo so that the ratios are balanced well. This will help you design a professional-looking logo.

In conclusion, we hope that you will no longer see the South Korean flag in the same light after reading this article. If you would like to learn more about the meaning of other countries’ flags, we invite you to read our articles on the New Zealand flag and the flag of Brazil!

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