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            The Korean National Flag

Korea first felt the need for a national flag as it was preparing to conclude the Korean-American Treaty of Commerce, which was concluded on May 22 and signed on June 6, 1882. This was during the 19th year of the reign of King Gojong of the Joseon Kingdom (1392- 1910).

Though China had been pressing Korea to use a dragon design on its national flag, Korea rejected this in favor of a blue and red yin-yang on a white field, a favorite Korean design since ancient times. Thus, the taegeuk design flag became the temporary national flag. Later Korea added eight trigrams-combinations of three unbroken and broken bars - around the taegeuk circle and thereby creating the Taegeukgi, which served as the national colors for a while.

King Gojong appointed Bak, YoungHyo as his ambassador to Japan in September 1882. While aboard ship heading for Japan, Bak drew a national flag with a taegeuk circle but included only four trigrams instead of eight, and started using the flag on the 25th of that month. On October 3, Park reported this change to King Gojong who formally proclaimed the Taegeukgi as the national flag on March 6, 1883. For some unknown reason, however, he did not have formal instructions published at that time on how to make the flag.

In fact, it wasn't till June 29, 1942, that the provisional Korean government in exile enacted a law on the uniform method of making the national flag. The law was promulgated but as the government was in exile, it was not widely known to Koreans at home still under Japanese colonial rule.

Following the founding of the Republic of Korea on August 15, 1948, the government felt that it should codify the method of making the national flag. This prompted the government to form a special commission in January 1949 that issued the provision on the national flag on October 15 of that year. Since then, the Republic of Korea has been using the Taegeukgi as the national flag.

  

 

 

 

 

 

The Taegeukgi embodies the ideals of Koreans who have pursued development and prosperity under universal principles and truth.

  Standard color shades of Taegeukgi, the Korean National Flag are
  follows: in the CIE System, the x, y, and Y coordinates for the red are
  x=0.5640, y=0.3194, Y=15.3; for the blue, x=0.1556, y=0.1354,
  Y=6.5. Alternatively, in the Munsell System of color Nation, the red
  corresponds to 6.0R 4.5/14, and the blue to 5.0PB 3.0/12. In the
  Pantone Matching System, 186C red and 294C blue are
  recommended.


  

 

 

 

 


  1) Diameter of circle x 3
  2) Diameter of circle x 2
  3) Length of flag x 1/2
  4) Length of flag x 1/4
  5) Diameter of circle x 1/4
  6) Diameter of circle x 1/2
  7) Diameter of circle x 1/3
  8) Diameter of circle x 1/12
  9) Diameter of circle x 1/24
  10) Right angle(90 degrees)
   (Width:Length = 3:2)

Meaning of the Taegeukgi

The white background of the Taegeukgi symbolizes light and purity and reflects Koreans' traditional affinity for white. A taegeuk circle, divided equally and in perfect balance with red on top and blue below, represents the cosmic dual forces of yin(blue) and yang(red). It symbolizes universal harmony in which the positive and the negative or the active and the passive form a whole.

The four trigrams that surround the taegeuk circle in the four corners denote the process of yin and yang going through a spiral of change and growth. The three unbroken bars in the upper left-hand corner denote 
geon( heaven - justice), the three broken bars in the lower right-hand corner denote gon( earth - fertility), the two broken bars with one unbroken bar in the middle in the upper right-hand corner denote gam( water - life), and the two unbroken bars with a broken bar in the middle in the lower left-hand corner denote 
i( fire - wisdom). Collectively the Taegeukgi represents universal harmony and unity.

Thus, the Taegeukgi embodies the ideals of Koreans who have pursued development and prosperity under universal principles and truth and circumscribes the country's tasks of unifying the people and working for world peace and prosperity.

Manner to the Flag

Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag

" Before this proud Taegeukgi, I firmly pledge my loyalty and will devote my body and soul to the eternal glory of my country and people. "

When and How to Fly the Flag

Days on which the Flag is flown

  • January 1 - New Year's Day

  • March 1 - Independence Movement Day (Anniversary of the 
                                        March    1, 1919, Independence movement)

  • July 17 - Constitution Day

  • August 15 - Liberation Day

  • October 1 - Armed Forces Day

  • October 3 - National Foundation Day

  • October 9 - Hangeul Day 
    (The anniversary of the promulgation of the Korean alphabet in 1446)

Other days the government designates as national holidays

  • The flag may be flown on days local autonomous governments or provincial or city councils designate as local holidays.

  • The flag is flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning on Memorial Day (June 6), during periods of national mourning, and for state or public funerals.

Places Where the Flag is Flown All Year Round

  • It is obligatory to fly the flag every day at national and local government offices, public organizations, schools, and military installations.

  • It is recommended that the flag be flown at places where international events are held such as hotels, large buildings, and parks where large crowds assemble, along walls of government buildings and anywhere flag polls are installed.

  • Private homes and other places may display the national flag all year round if the residents so wish.

Raising and Lowering the Flag

  • The flag may be flown 24 hours a day, but if flown at night, it must be illuminated.

  • Schools and military units are required to fly the flag only during daylight hours.

  • The flag should not be flown if there is any possibility that it might be torn or damaged by wind or rain.

How to Fly the Flag

 

On national holidays and 
ordinary days,
it should be flown at full-mast.

 

On days of mourning,
it should be flown at half-mast.

 

When the flag is flown in a line with other flags in three or
 in other odd numbers, it is placed in the center.

 

When the number of flags is even, the flag is flown 
on the left end as viewed from the front.

* When the flag is flown in Korea together with the U.N. flag and flags of other countries, they should be flown in the following order: the U.N. flag, the Korean flag and flags of other countries in alphabet order.

Order of Raising or Lowering the Flag

  • When the flag is flown along with other flags, it should either be raised first or simultaneously with the others.

  • When the flag is lowered with other flags, it should either be lowered last or simultaneously with the others.

Safekeeping and Care of the National Flag

  • The flag must be folded with great care and stored in a flag box or other container for safekeeping. Additionally, the box or container must be stored in plain sight and be easily accessible.

  • If the flag is dirtied or wrinkled, it may be washed and ironed but care should be taken to ensure its original form is not distorted.

  • If the flag is damaged or worn out, it should not be discarded casually or used for other purposes; it should be burned in a discreet place.

National Flower

   

The rose of Sharon (Hibiscus Syriacus L.) has been generally 
accepted as the national flower of Korea due to its popularity 
among the Koreans call it mugunghwa, or the "flower of eternity,
" as it embodies their aspiration for eternal prosperity.


The Appearance of Korean Peninsula 

    
                 

South Korea

Geography
Over 70% of the land is mountainous with the eastern regions consisting of mainly rugged mountain ranges and deep valleys. Many people enjoy hiking in the foothills and mountains. Most of the larger rivers and forests are located in the west. The coastline is dotted with bays and it has some of the highest tides in the world. The eastern coastline has many sandy beaches, while the western side consists mainly of mud flats and rocky shores.

South Korea
Location: between 131°52'42"E (East) and 124°11'00"E (West), 43°00'39"N (North) 
and 33°06'40"N (South) Area: 222,154 km˛ (South Korea: 99,392 km˛)

The country extends south from the northeastern end of Asia and consists of the 
Korean Peninsula and over 3,400 islands. It is bordered in the north by Russia and
China and by Japan across the East Sea. Since 1945, the country has been divided 
into the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People's Republic of 
Korea (North Korea). South Korea is divided into 9 provinces and 3 special cities.

People
Population: over 46.9 million (1999 est.)
Koreans descended from the Mongolian race in prehistoric times. Periods of 
occupation have also added Chinese and Japanese blood to the gene pool. 
Although they have borrowed from other cultures, especially Chinese and Japanese, 
Koreans have maintained their own distinctive language, culture, and customs. 
It is a family orientated society, heavily based on Confucianism, which even in 
modern times retains the basic patterns and manners of family-centered life.

History of Korea

Korea claims a 5,000+ year history, dating from the country's foundation by 
Tan-gun. Its history is full of foreign invaders and various factions vying for power. 
Korean history is broken down into the following periods:

Three Kingdoms (57 B.C. - A.D. 668)
Silla (668 - 935)
Goryeo (918 - 1392)
Joseon (1392 - 1910)
Japanese Occupation (1910 - 1945)
Republic of Korea (1945 - present)

The Legend of Tan-Gun

Tan-Gun Legend has it that Hwan-ung, the son of Hwan-in (who was the God of All and the ruler of Heaven), yearned to live on Earth among the valleys and the mountains. His father sent him and 3,000 helpers to rule Earth and provide humans with great happiness.

Hwan-ung descended to Mount T'aebaeksan on the border between Manchuria and what is now North Korea. He named the place Shinshi, City of God. Along with his ministers of clouds, rain, and wind, he instituted laws and moral codes and taught the humans various arts, medicine, and agriculture.

Tan-Gun A tiger and a bear living in a cave together prayed to become human. Upon hearing their prayers, Hwan-ung called them to him and gave them 20 cloves of garlic and a bunch of mugwort. He then ordered them to only eat this sacred food and remain out of the sunlight for 100 days. The tiger shortly gave up and left the cave. However, the bear remained true and after 21 days was transformed into a woman.

The bear-woman was very grateful and made offerings to Hwan-ung. However, lacking a companion she soon became sad and praved beneath a sandalwood tree to be blessed with a child. Hwan-ung, moved by her prayers, took her for his wife and soon she gave birth to a handsome son. They named him Tan-gun, meaning "Altar Prince" or sandalwood.

Tan-gun developed into a wise and powerful leader and in 2333 BC moved to P'yongyang and established the Choson ("Land of the Morning Calm") Kingdom. Finally, at the age of 1,908, he returned to T'aebaeksan where he became a mountain god.

Pre-20th Century

??- 57 B.C.: Evidence of inhabitants in Korea from as early as 4000 BC exists in Korea. Legend has that the man-god Tan Gun founded the Joseon (meaning Land of the Morning Calm) Kingdom in 2333 BC. Almost no centralized communities existed from then until three kingdoms emerged in the 1st century BC.
 

57 B.C. - 668 A.D.: The Three Kingdoms of Silla, Goguryeo, and Baekje had similar ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. Koguryo occupied the northern part of the peninsula from the Chinese border to the Han River, while Silla and Baekche dominated the southern regions. All three kingdoms were heavily influenced by China, and Buddhism was introduced to Koguryo in 372. Various alliances were formed either with or against the Chinese until 660 when Silla allied with China to overthrow Baekje. Goguryeo fell shortly afterwards in 668.
 

668 - 935: The Silla Kingdom period marked the start of Korea's cultural development. Buddhism expanded and furled the construction of numerous temples and art works. However, despite Chinese influences, Silla remained largely tribal in culture. Society divided into distinct classes with a large semi-slave population supporting an aristocratic minority. Warlords began amassing power bases to the north and eventually took over Silla and founded a new kingdom- Goryeo.

918 - 1392: Korea's English name was derived during the Goryeo period. At this time the government codified the laws and introduced a civil service system. During this time Buddhism flourished and spread throughout the peninsula. Like other kingdoms before it, Koryo was also subject to internal strife and external threats, most notably from the Mongols who had taken over China. In 1231 the Mongols invaded Korea, forcing the royal family to flee to Kanghwa Island near Seoul. After 25 years of struggle, the royal family finally surrendered. The following 150 years saw continued Goryeo rule, but under the control of the Mongols. As the Mongols declined in power, so too did Goryeo. In 1392 a Korean general, Yi, Song-gye, was sent to China to campaign against the Ming rulers. Instead, he allied himself with the Chinese, returned to overthrow the Korean king, and setup his own dynasty. During this time, Korea also perfected the art of celadon pottery.

1392 - 1910 The ruler of the Yi Dynasty (also known as the Joseon Dynasty) moved the capital to Hanyang-gun (today's Seoul) in 1394 and adopted Confucianism as the country's official religion. As a result, Buddhists lost much of their wealth and power. It was during this period that the Korean alphabet, Hangul, was invented by King Sejong the Great in 1446. This period also had its share of external problems, suffering invasions by the Japanese (1592-1598) and the Manchus (1627-1636). With the arrival of Japanese and Western traders in the 19th century, the Korean rulers tried to prevent the opening of the country to foreign trade by closing the borders, earning Korea its nickname of the Hermit Kingdom. Beginning in 1876, the Japanese forced a series of Western-style trade agreements on Korea, leading to Japan's eventual annexation of the country in 1910. Due to growing anti-Japanese sentiment, in 1897 King Kojong declared himself to be emperor of the Taehan Empire, an independent Korea. However, during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), Japanese forces moved onto the peninsula, despite Korean declarations of neutrality. The signing of the Japan-Korea Protection Treaty in 1905 gave Japan virtual control over Korea, and in 1910 a Korean royal proclamation announced the annexation by Japan.

20th Century


1910 - 45: During its occupation, Japan built up Korea's infrastructure, especially the street and railroad systems. However, the Japanese ruled with an iron fist and attempted to root out all elements of Korean culture from society. People were forced to adopt Japanese names, convert to the Shinto (native Japanese) religion, and were forbidden to use Korean language in schools and business. The Independence Movement on March 1, 1919, was brutally repressed, resulting in the killing of thousands, the maiming and imprisoning of tens of thousands, and destroying of hundreds of churches, temples, schools, and private homes. During World War II, Japan siphoned off more and more of Korea's resources, including its people, to feed its Imperial war machine. Many of the forced laborers were never repatriated to Korea.
 

1945 - 60: The Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945, cause the peninsula to came under divided rule: the USSR occupied Korea north of the 38th parallel, while the U.S. occupied the southern section. Under UN auspices, a democratic government established the Republic of Korea (South Korea) in 1948 with its capital in Seoul. The Communists established the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) with its capital in P'yongyang. On June 25, 1950, the North Korean Army invaded the South, starting the Korean War. UN forces helped the South while Communist Chinese volunteers sided with the North, resulting in a three year war which left millions dead on both sides. (The Korean War section gives greater detail about this period, including a day-by-day calendar with historical events, diary entries from people who were there, and period photographs.) Student protests against the corrupt government caused Syngman Rhee to step down as president in 1960.
 

1961 - 79: On May 16, 1961, General Park, Chung Hee organized a military coup and toppled the civilian government. He then established martial law and later had himself elected president. Though his leadership was oppressive, President Park instigated many economic and social changes which helped elevate Korea into and industrializing nation. Major infrastructure enhancements, including the Seoul-Pusan expressway and the Seoul subway system, began under his regime. The Korean CIA chief assassinated President Park on October 26, 1979.

1980 - 87: In the power vacuum left by President Park's death, General Chun, Doo Hwan staged a military coup and seized power on May 17, 1980. After re-establishing martial law, he had himself elected President and banned several hundred former politicians from campaigning. A military crackdown against student protests in the southern city of Kwangju resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries. Although his rule was more lenient than General Park's, and he adopted many reforms, the Korean people became tired of military rule. Violent student demonstrations in 1987 forced President Chun to implement more social reforms and hold presidential elections in 1988.
 

1988 - 92: General Noh, Tae-woo, Chun's chosen political successor, won the presidential election. The opposition party failed to field a single candidate, splitting the opposition vote and giving Noh a comfortable win. During his term, President Noh's government established diplomatic relations with many non-capitalist countries, including the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union, both long-term allies of communist North Korea. The successful hosting of the 1988 Olympic Games brought Korea to the center stage of world recognition.

1992 - 1996: The election of President Kim, Young-sam ushered in a new era of civilian rule. Since taking office he worked hard to reform the widely criticized regulatory system through his "New Economy" and "Globalization" programs. The implementation of the real-name financial transaction act put an end to the easy hiding of hot money. Another 2,000 rules and regulations were abolished or amended during Presdient Kim's term. Despite the many contibutions he made, Kim, Young-sam will probably be remembered most for the dismal economic situation the country was in when he left office.
 

1997 - 2001: The election of President Kim, Dae-jung marked the first time an opposition leader has been elected as president in Korea. After failing in four other attempts to win the popular vote, his party joined with the party of Kim, Jong-pil, and riding the population's growing resentment towards the ruling party, gained the narrow majority needed to gain the presidency. His term immediately got off to the rocky start when the former ruling party boycotted the National Assembly session which was to have confirmed President Kim's choice of cabinet and prime minister candidates.

Korean Language

The Korean language is classified as a member of the Ural-Altaic family
(other members of this family include the Mongolian, Finnish, and Hungarian 
languages.) Until the early 1400s, most documents were written in classical
Chinese characters (known in Korean as Hanja). As the idiographs are 
difficult to learn, only the educated people could read and write. King Sejong,
the 4th ruler of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), set up a special committee 
of scholars in 1443 to create a new writing system specifically suited to the 
Korean language.

The result was Han-gul (meaning 'the one script').
It originally contained 28 symbols, although 4 have dropped out of use.
The alphabet has 10 vowels and 14 consonants. 
The consonants represent the simplified outlines of the parts of the mouth 
and tongue used to pronounce them. 
The vowels are associated with elements of the philosophy of the Book of Changes.

The Hangul Characters

hangul


Before you begin learning the language, you should take some time to practice writing Hangul.

The symbols are combined into blocks, each one representing a single syllable. 
Each sylable must start with a consonant, although the iung is silent in the initial position.
Text is arranged either in the traditional vertical fashion, with columns reading 
from right to left (as in some newspapers and old books) or in rows reading
left to right (as in most modern novels and magazines). 
The alphabet may appear complicated, but it is actually easy to learn. 
Once you are familiar with the characters, looking up words in a dictionary becomes easy.

When speaking Korean, you use formal or informal words and phrases, 
depending on the status of the person to whom you are talking. 
For example, you generally use informal speech to children and formal speech 
to older people. It is better to err by being too formal rather than showing disrespect.
However, Koreans do not expect foreigners to be fluent and will usually excuse minor mistakes.

 


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