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.