Flag of South Korea

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Republic of Korea
Flag of South Korea.svg
Name Taegukgi / Taegeukgi
(Korean: 태극기)
(Hanja: )
Use National flag and ensign
Proportion 2:3
Adopted January 27, 1883 (original version, used by the Joseon dynasty)
June 29, 1942 (Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea)
October 15, 1949 (as the flag of South Korea)[1]
May 30, 2011 (current version)
Naval Jack of South Korea.svg
Variant flag of Republic of Korea
Use Naval jack
Flag of South Korea
Hangul 태극기
Revised Romanization Taegeukgi
McCune–Reischauer T'aegŭkki

The flag of the Republic of Korea, also known as the Taegukgi (also spelled as Taegeukgi, literally "supreme ultimate flag"), has three parts: a white rectangular background, a red and blue Taeguk, symbolizing balance, in its center, and four black trigrams selected from the original eight, one toward each corner.


The flag's background is white, a traditional color in Korean culture. White was common in the daily attire of 19th-century Koreans, and it still appears in contemporary versions of traditional Korean garments, such as the hanbok. The color represents peace and purity.

The circle in the middle is derived from the philosophy of um-yang (yin-yang in Chinese) and represents balance in the universe. The red half represents positive cosmic forces, and the blue half represents the opposing negative cosmic forces.

Together, the trigrams represent movement and harmony as fundamental principles. Each trigram (hangeul: [gwae]; hanja: ) represents one of the four classical elements,[2] as described below:

Trigram Korean Name Celestial Body Season Cardinal Direction Virtue Family Natural Element Meaning
(건 / )
(천 / )
(춘 / )
(동 / )
(인 / )
(부 / )
(천 / )
(정의 / 正義)
(리 / )
(일 / )
(추 / )
(남 / )
(의 / )
(녀 / )
(화 / )
(결실 / 結實)
(감 / )
(월 / )
(동 / )
(북 / )
(지 / )
(자 / )
(수 / )
(지혜 / 智慧)
(곤 / )
(지 / )
(하 / )
(서 / 西)
(례 / )
(모 / )
(토 / )
(생명력 / 生命力)


The earliest surviving depiction of the flag was printed in a U.S. Navy book Flags of Maritime Nations in July 1882.[3]
Ceremony inaugurating the government of the Republic of Korea (August 15, 1948).

The absence of a national flag only became an issue for Korea in 1876, during the reign of the Joseon dynasty. Before 1876, Korea did not assert a need for or the importance of a national flag. The issue arose during the negotiations for the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1876, at which the delegate of the Empire of Japan displayed the Japanese national flag, whereas the Joseon Dynasty had no corresponding national symbol to exhibit. At that time, some proposed to create a national flag, but the Korean government looked upon the matter as unimportant and unnecessary. By 1880, the proliferation of foreign negotiations led to the need for a national flag.[4] The most popular proposal was described in the "Korea Strategy" papers, written by the Chinese delegate Huang Zunxian. It proffered to incorporate the flag of the Qing Dynasty of China into that of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. In response to the Chinese proposal, the Korean government dispatched delegate Lee Young-Sook to consider the scheme with Chinese statesman and diplomat Li Hongzhang. Li agreed with some elements of Huang's suggestion while accepting that Korea would make some alterations. The Qing government assented to Li's conclusions, but the degree of enthusiasm with which the Joseon government explored this proposal is unknown.[1]

The issue remained unpursued for a period, re-emerging with the negotiation of the United States–Korea Treaty of 1882, also known as the Shufeldt Treaty. The controversy arose after the delegate Lee Eung-Jun presented a flag similar to the flag of Japan to the Chinese official Ma Jianzhong. In response to the discussion, Ma Jianzhong argued against the proposed idea of using the flag of the Qing Dynasty and proposed a flag with a white background, with a half-red and half-black circle in the center, with eight black bars around the flag.[1] On August 22, 1882, Park Yeong-hyo created a scale model of the Taegukgi to the Joseon government. Park Yeong-hyo became the first person to use the Taegukgi in the Empire of Japan in 1882.[5] On January 27, 1883, the Joseon government officially promulgated Taegukgi to be used as the official national flag.[1]

In 1919, a flag similar to the current South Korean flag was used by the provisional Korean government-in-exile based in China.

After the restoration of Korean independence in 1945, the Taegukgi remained in use after the southern portion of Korea became a democratic republic under the influence of the United States but also used by the People's Republic of Korea. At the same time, the flag of the United States was also used by the United States Army Military Government in Korea alongside with the Taegukgi. Following the establishment of the South Korean state in August 1948, the current flag was declared official by the government of South Korea on October 15, 1949,[1] although it had been used as the de facto national flag before then.[6]

In February 1984, the exact dimensional specifications of the flag were codified.[7][8][9][10] In October 1997, the exact colors of the flag were specified via presidential decree.[11][12]

Role in contemporary South Korean society

According to scholar Brian Reynolds Myers, the South Korean flag in the context of the country's society tends to represent a grander nationalistic idea of a "Korean race" rather than merely symbolizing the South Korean nation-state itself.[13] He said that: "When the average man sees the flag, he feels fraternity with [ethnic] Koreans around the world."[14]

The name of the South Korean flag was also used as the name of a 2004 South Korean film about the Korean War, Tae Guk Gi.


Proper vertical display of flag


Flag construction sheet

The width and height are in the ratio of 3 to 2. There are five sections on the flag, the taegeuk and the four groups of bars. The diameter of the circle is half of the height. The top of the taegeuk should be red and the bottom of the taegeuk should be blue. The groups of bars are put in the four corners of the flag.[15]


Darker version of the flag using RGB approximations of semi-official Pantone approximations[16]

The colors of the Taegukgi are specified in the "Ordinance Act of the Law concerning the National Flag of the Republic of Korea." (Korean: 대한민국 국기법 시행령)[17] There were no exact specifications regarding the colors until 1997, when the South Korean government decided to provide standard specifications for the flag. In October 1997, a Presidential ordinance on the standard specification of the South Korean flag was promulgated,[18] and that specification was acceded by the National Flag Law in July 2007.

The colors are defined in legislation by the Munsell and CIE color systems:

Scheme Munsell[19] CIE (x, y, Y)[19] Pantone[16] Hex triplet[19]
White N 9.5 N/A N/A #FFFFFF
Red 6.0R 4.5/14 0.5640, 0.3194, 15.3 186 Coated #CD2E3A
Blue 5.0PB 3.0/12 0.1556, 0.1354, 6.5 294 Coated #0047A0
Black N 0.5 N/A N/A #000000


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e 태극기 [Taegukgi] (in Korean). Academy of Korean Studies. Retrieved November 5, 2013. 
  2. ^ "The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved November 4, 2013. 
  3. ^ United States. Navy Dept. Bureau of Navigation (1882). Flags of maritime nations: from the most authentic sources. Bureau of Navigation. p. 16. 
  4. ^ "대한민국[Republic of Korea,大韓民國]" (in Korean). Doosan Corporation. Retrieved November 5, 2013. 
  5. ^ 태극-기太極旗 [Taeguk-gi] (in Korean). NAVER Corp. Retrieved November 5, 2013. 
  6. ^ "National Flag of North Korea". Worldflags 101. Retrieved November 5, 2013. 
  7. ^ "History of the South Korean flag". fotw.fivestarflags.com. 
  8. ^ "flag of Korea, South". Encyclopedia Britannica. 
  9. ^ "History of the South Korean flag". Christusrex.org. Retrieved 9 January 2018. 
  10. ^ "Flag History". Destination South Korea. Retrieved 9 January 2018. 
  11. ^ "National Administration : National Symbols of the Republic of Korea : The National Flag - Taegeukgi". Mois.go.kr. Retrieved 9 January 2018. 
  12. ^ "NATIONAL SYMBOLS OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA". Mois.go.kr. Retrieved 9 January 2018. 
  13. ^ O'Carroll, Chad (2014). "BR Myers - Current Issues". YouTube. Retrieved September 11, 2017. The South Korean flag continues to function, at least in South Korea, not as a symbol of the state but as a symbol of the race. 
  14. ^ "North Korea's Unification Drive— B.R. Myers". Sthelepress.com. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2018. 
  15. ^ "국가상징 > 태극기 > 태극기 더보기 > 국기의 제작". Theme.archives.go.kr. Retrieved 9 January 2018. 
  16. ^ a b "National Flag". infokorea.ru. The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Moscow. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2017. 
  17. ^ 대한민국국기법 시행령 [The law concerning practice for the flag of the Republic of Korea] (in Korean). Government of the Republic of Korea. Retrieved August 6, 2017. 
  18. ^ Stray_Cat421 (June 18, 2003). "Standard specification of Taegukgi". Kin.naver.com (in Korean). South Korea. Retrieved March 1, 2015. 
  19. ^ a b c 국기의 제작 [Geometry of the National Flag] (in Korean). Ministry of the Interior and Safety. 2017. Retrieved 2017-08-06. 
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