Tagukgi : The Korean Flag

             The Korean flag became national flag in 1883 after the Korean empire was established.  The white background represents  Korean people. The Korean people have been called “white cloth folks” due to their fondness for wearing white cloth. Furthermore, the white background also signifies purity.

The Symbols found in the flag is wholly based on the worldview found in the Iching as articulated by Neo-Confucianism. The circle located in the center called, referred to as Taeguk in Korean, represents  two forms of energy in the cosmos:  Yin & Yang .All nature phenomena arise through the mutual interaction of these two forces. The red portion symbolizes Yang, heaven and light.The blue portion symbolizes Yin, the earth and darkness. The four sticks surrounding the circle, collectively referred to as Sague in Korean, signifies Heaven, Earth, the Sun, and the Moon, beginning from the upper left corner and moving clockwise. Within this symbolism is the hope that Korea will be eternal and have a bright future.

The symbolism of the flag illustrates the historical importance of Confucianism for the Korean state. Neo-confucianism was a philosophy especially well-adapted for governing the country. During the Joseon Dynasty,Korean kept Confucian’s values over 500 years. The essential value is the three cardinal guides and the five moral rules in human relationship. Three guides are a king  guides a subject, a father guides children, a husband guides a wife. Five moral rules in human relationship: Between parents and children, there must be intimacy. Between ruler and a subject, there must be loyalty. Between a husband and a wife, there must be distinction. Between the old and the young, there must be hierarchy.Between friends, there must be trust. These values are still rooted in Korean society.

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Hangul : Korean language

Korean has their own language system. They had own spoken language for a long time but they didn’t have their own written language until  1446. The King Sejong, famous for the wisest king in Korean history made Korean Alphabet called Hunminjeonum(now we called it as a Hangul). The meaning of the name is the appropriate sound for teaching people.

The Korean Alphabet is consist in 3 essential vowels, 5 essential consonants and its extended vowels and consonants.  Three vowels was patterned after Heaven( · ), Earth(ㅡ), and  human(ㅣ)  and five consonants was patterned after the shape of vocal organs. Heaven, Earth, and human is three essential elements in the world. This theory is based on Confucianism’s thought. The chart on the left side is the basic combination of Korean alphabet. Korean Kids memorize this when they start to learn Korean alphabets.

The basic word order of Korean language is Subject, Verb, and Object.  In Korean structure, an element of sentence was omitted a lot. This language is not logical like English but it has abundant word for expressing emotion and colors.

Recently, the TV show treated on the story of making Hangul was made. The title is “Tree with deep root.”  You can find this show in Hulu.com (http://www.hulu.com/watch/297395#x-0,vepisode,1,0)

Where is Korea?

     Korea is located in the eastern end of Asia, between China and Japan.  Geographically, the Korean peninsula was a bridge between the two countries.  Advanced culture was transmitted to Japan through Korea  from continental Asia, including religions, philosophies, cultural artifacts, and institutions.

Though the location helped Korea to acquire the latest cultural innovations, the peninsula was simultaneously exposed to many invasions from China and Japan.  There were three times big invasion from China and one time invasion from Japan.  The first fighting between Korea and China 645CE, that time Kogurye, one of three kingdom dynasty defeated. The second one was a Mongolian invasion  from 1231 to 1259. The invasion time was counted  from 6 to 9 times. As you know Jinghis Khan’s notorious,  their invasion was continued until Koryo Dynasty surrendered.  Some sholars urged that Korea was a Shield of invasion to Japan. Especially, Mongol was exhausted their military power from several times of fighting with Korea.  The third one was Ching Dynasty in 1623 and 1637 Dec two times.  From the late Koryo Dynasty period 13CE, Japan started bothering Korea. was watching for an opportunity  to expand their territory to the continent. after 13CE. Therefore, Korea had a problem on that, too.  In such a tough situation, Korean always struggled to keep their own culture.  With Korean’s effort, they keep their own culture though they got lots of influence from China.

p.s : Korea is divided south and north in present days, as you know.  North Korea supports communism and South Korea supports capitalism.  After they were divided in two, they cultivated their own style. But they use the same language and share a same ancient history.