With the FIFA World Cup matches underway and the SOUTH KOREA National Football Team gaining popularity among other nationalities, it would be nice to understand and appreciate the meaning and symbolism of their national flag. Just like other countries, it has gone through a colorful and meaningful history, and it’s great to know about it as we continue to wave in support for the team during every game.
On November 24, 2022, our family had the opportunity to watch our first-ever live FIFA match at the Education City Stadium. It was the game between URUGUAY and KOREA REPUBLIC and it was the only match ticket that we purchased when ticket selling was opened on July 2022 (since the opening ceremonies are already sold out). The energy at the stadium was so high, all fans are excited and both sides are eager to get their first win. The match ended in a draw.
Had it been the Philippines, the emotion would be different (and personal) for me. So I could only imagine the pride and honor of every Korean cheering for their own team at this prestigious sporting event. But as a fan and supporter of Korea, I also felt the honor of waving their flag – not only as fellow EAST ASIANS but also as a culture that is close to my heart.
And as I look at that big flag unfolding right before my very eyes (while the fans rolled it on top of them to reveal a waving Korean flag)… while their national anthem is being played… I couldn’t help but feel that sense of nationalism and pride – how I wish I knew the song and I could also sing along.
For this episode of FEED YOUR S[e]OUL, let’s get to know more about TAEGEUKGI (the South Korean National Flag). And to help me understand this, I needed to read some online resources and watch video content to appreciate it more. One of my main references is this VLOG along with other online materials:
The Korean flag is called taegeukgi (pronounced teh-GUK-key). The colors of the flag are red, blue, and black on a white background. The flag stands for the three components of a nation: THE LAND (the white background), THE PEOPLE (the red and blue circle), and THE GOVERNMENT (the four sets of black bars or trigrams). It was created in 1882 but the symbols are among the oldest found on any nation’s flag. source: https://asiasociety.org
THE WHITE BACKGROUND
The white background represents brightness, purity, and peace, qualities that are highly valued by the people.
THE TAEGEUK (yin and yang symbol)
The red and blue circle in the middle of the flag is called taegeuk in Korean (t’ai chi in Chinese), which, translated literally, means “supreme ultimate.” The circle is divided equally into a blue portion below and a red portion above representing the dual cosmic forces of Yin (blue) and Yang (red). It symbolizes universal harmony, in which the negative (or passive) and the positive (or active) form the whole.
The yang and um together form the to (tao in Chinese), signifying the perpetually changing opposite yet complementary forces or principles embodied in all aspects of life: light and darkness, good and evil, active and passive, masculine and feminine. The thick round part of each comma represents the beginning of all things and the tail section represents the end so that where the yang begins, the um disappears and vice versa.
THE GEONGONGAMRI (four black trigrams)
The four sets of trigrams further convey the idea of the dualism of the cosmos (clockwise).
- WATER [GAM] – two broken lines with an unbroken line in the middle
- EARTH [GON] – three broken lines placed opposite each other, the manifestation of the pure um principle
- FIRE [RI] – the stages between the two extremes of yang and um are represented by the two lines with a broken line between them
- SKY or Heaven [GEON] is the manifestation of the pure yang principle and is represented by the three unbroken lines
The four black trigrams are specific representations of the movement and harmony of these forces. Together, they create harmony around the taegeuk mark.
In short, the Taegeukgi flag embodies the vision of the Korean people who, like the universe, seek continuous creation and enrichment. By upholding the spirit and significance of the Taegeukgi, the people seek to realize unity and unification and contribute to the happiness and peace of humanity.
FEED YOUR S[e]OUL is a special feature of Best Life Qatar in partnership with the Korean Embassy in Qatar for the promotion of Korean culture through social media. This will cover various topics of interest ranging from food, travel, music, traditions, and more.
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