The Korean flag is called Taegeukgi. Its design symbolizes
the principles of the yin and yang in Asian philosophy.
The circle in the center of the flag is divided into two
equal parts. The upper red section represents the proactive
cosmic forces of the yang. Conversely, the lower blue
section represents the responsive cosmic forces of the
yin. The two forces embody the concepts of continual movement,
balance, and harmony that characterize the sphere of infinity.
The circle is surrounded by four trigrams, one in each
corner. Each trigram symbolizes one of the four universal
elements: heaven, earth, fire, and water.
Koreans have loved the rose of Sharon for centuries.
According to records, Koreans have treasured the rose
of Sharon as a heavenly flower since ancient times.
In fact, the Silla Kingdom called itself Mugunghwa Country.
Even the ancient Chinese referred to Korea as "The land
of gentlemen where Mugunghwa blooms." Love for the flower
was further heightened when Mugunghwa samcheolli hwaryeo
gangsan" ("Rose of Sharon, thousand miles of beautiful
mountain and river land!") was written into the national
anthem of the late 19th century. As the rose of Sharon
has been an important part of the Korean culture for
centuries, it was only natural that the government adopted
it as the national flower after Korea was liberated
from Japanese colonial rule.
There are more than 100 cultivars of the rose of Sharon
indigenous to Korea. There are single, semi-double,
and double types of flowers. Depending on the colors
of flower, they are divided into 3 groups, Dansim (flower
with red center), Baedal (pure white flower), and Asadal
(pink dots on the edges of the petals). The Dansim,
single types of flowers, serves as Korea's national
The rose of Sharon blooms from early July through late
October. Some 2,000 to 3,000 bloom on a single plant,
which is strong enough to survive even when it is transplanted
or cut for decoration or flower arrangements. Thus,
the flower represents the wish for lasting national
development and prosperity.
Koreans cherish and care for the national flower as
it symbolizes the many glories the country has experienced
and the trials and tribulations the people have overcome.
Our national anthem is "Aegukga," which means a "Love
the Country." In 1896, the Dongnip Sinmun (Independence
News) published various versions of lyrics for this
song. It is not known exactly what music they were sung
to in its early days. Records show that a Western-style
military band was formed during the time of the Dae-han
Empire (1897-1910) and that "the Daehan Empire Aegukga"
was composed in 1902 and played at important national
The original words of Aegukga appeared in a written
form around 1907 to inculcate allegiance to the nation
and foster the spirit of independence as the country
faced threats of foreign annexation. Over the years,
the lyrics have gone through several versions until
they were adopted as the national anthem in the present
form in 1948.
Before the birth of the Republic in 1948, the words
were often sung to the tune of the Scottish folk song,
Auld Lang Syne. Maestro Ahn Eak-tai (1905-1965), then
living in Spain, felt that it was inappropriate to sing
this patriotic song to the tune of another country's
folk song. So, he composed new music to go with the
lyrics in 1935, and the Korean Provisional Government
in exile adopted it as the national anthem. While Koreans
outside the country sang the anthem to the new tune,
those at home continued to use Auld Lang Syne till after
Korea was liberated in 1945.
The Republic of Korea Government in 1948 officially
adopted the new version as the national anthem and began
to use it at all schools and official functions.