Korea, its people having the inclination to wear white, have come to be know as the white-clad nation, and with such acknowledgement the color white is expected to be included in the country’s flag. That element in the flag represents peace and the Korean’s purity.
The centerpiece, the taegeuk, symbolizes the origin of every creation in the universe. This symbol can trace its meaning back to ancient Korean – and Chinese – philosophy about two opposing forces, the yin and yang, co-existing, struggling but in harmony with each other to keep the balance in the universe. Yin, associated with the negative force, means cold and dark. Yang, the positive force, means hot and bright. Yin can be the moon, the winter, and the night as the sun, summer, and day respectively are yang.
The four trigrams (geon, ri, gam, gon) symbolize a role in nature, seasons, cardinal directions, family, virtues, and elements. Geon represents sky, spring, east, father, humanity, metal, and means justice. Ri means wisdom, represents sun, autumn, south, son, courtesy, and fire. Gam symbolizes moon, winter, north, daughter, intelligence, water, and means vitality. Gon meaning fertility is symbolic of earth, summer, west, mother, righteousness, and earth.
The Korean flag was designed by Young-Hyo Park and used to represent the Kingdom of Korea in 1882. The flag was banned from 1910 to 1945 during the Japanese occupation in Korea. After the independence, North and South Korea each made a version of the taegeukki for their flag. Later though, North Korea adopted a Soviet-inspired design while South Korea (The Constituent Assembly of the Republic of Korea) officially used the Taegeukki as national flag since July 1948.