Some of the symbols used in Korea are important symbols in other places too, but Korean has adopted them. If you look out a window of an apartment over Seoul, you will be amazed at one symbol that has been whole heartedly adopted by the Koreans in recent years. You can see crosses rising up above the buildings everywhere. Yesterday, I blogged about a statistic I read that 35% of Koreans became Christians in 30 years. Today, I saw another statistic saying that close to 50% of the Korean population profess Christianity. The Buddhists are here, but they are not in the majority at all. Christianity is truly represented Korea, and they have whole heartedly placed crosses everywhere. The five largest churches in the world are in Korea. However, there are some other important symbols here too.
One symbol I have talked about in my blogs some, the mugungwha. It is a perennial flower that has been adopted as Korea’s national flower. The name of the train that runs all over Korea is the Mugungwha. I have seen pictures of the flower carved into many buildings and statues in Korea. I was surprised that when I went to Japan because I even saw it carved into the Buddhist temple I visited in Japan. I didn’t know the name of the flower in English, but when I learned the name of the flower in English, with Korea’s love of the flower, I found it very ironic because of Korea’s love of Christianity. Many hymns (spiritual songs) in English talk about Jesus as being the rose of Sharon. The meaning of mugungwha is the rose of Sharon. It is an accidental connection which makes it very ironic. The rose of Sharon is Korea’s national flower.
Since we talked about the national flower, it is good to also talk about another important symbol in Korea: their flag. The name of the Korean flag is the Taeguk. If you look at the Taeguk, there are lots of important symbols on the Korean flag. In the middle of the flag, there is a Yin and Yang symbol. Yin and Yang is an oriental philosophy about balance. If you study the history of Korea, you realize the Korean people have been a group of people constantly looking for the best philosophies to order their society and understand life. Yin and Yang is a philosophy that emphasizes that everything is in balance. Everything has an opposite. For example: black is the opposite of white; male is the opposite of female; hard is the opposite of soft; wet the the opposite of dry; etc. The red part is the yang, and the blue part is the yin. It symbolizes the duality and harmony of the cosmos.
Besides the Yin and Yang symbol in the middle of the Taeguk, there are also four sets of black lines. If you look at the top left corner, the three solid lines symbolize the sky. At the bottom right corner below the Yin and Yang symbol, there are six short lines with two lines next to one another. These lines symbolize the earth. On the bottom left, there are again, a set of lines, two solid lines with a line cut in half between them. These lines mean fire. If you look at the top right corner, there are two lines cut in half with a sold line running between them. These lines represent water.
The white on the Korean flag represents the purity of the Korean people and their love for peace. The whole flag represents the ideal of the Korean nation living in harmony with the universe. In a lot of ways, you can see how philosophical the Korean people are from the meanings of everything on their flag.
The Korean people are a people who have always striven for higher civilization for centuries. They listen to all the philosophies and compare. As a people, they have striven not only for higher culture, but for peace and purity. In recent years, they have begun striving for money too, and they got it. They were the poorest country in the world just a short time ago, but have risen to one of the richest. Their rise to riches coincided with the time so many of the became Christians. Their love for looking for the right way to live their lives and make order in the their country has paid off. They have a very peaceful, safe country with one of the lowest crime rates in the world. They believe in these symbols, and it has made the country into a good place to live.