8 Important National Symbols Of South Korea: All You Need To Know

National symbols are patriotic symbols symbolizing nations and countries. National symbols try to join people or send a message by representing the national people, values, goals, or history.

Korean society traditionally changed to and found interest in the order of nature. Wanting to pass on the hidden meanings of the natural world to future generations and assuming them as law and order in their daily lives. These National Symbols of South Korea are a reflection of their culture, faith and lifestyle.

Korean people have created tons of beautiful and various patterns and themes which can be found beautifying everything from traditional Korean architecture to objects of everyday life. This talent is shown in all phases of Korean culture, from common people’s daily goods and accessories to royal clothing.

Recommended Read: 25 Best Places to visit in South Korea

National Symbol Of South Korea

 People often value their nation, country, or group by celebrating their national symbol. Formal symbols to signify the nation, including flags, seals, and buildings. These symbols are usually a part of celebrations of nationalism or aspiring loyalty such as independence, autonomy, or separation movements.

The symbols are sketched to be inclusive and represent all the people of the national community.

So when you talk about South Korea, what comes to your mind? King Sejong, Yi Sun Sin, or even K-Pop surely could come to mind. But, what about the symbols that represent South Korea?

Here is a list of 8 Important National Symbols of South Korea

National Flag of South Korea- Taegeukgi

Significance: The national flag of South Korea is known as Taegeukgi. The colors of the flag are red, blue, and black with a white background. The white background signifies purity and peace.

The inner circle represents stability in the universe (yin and Yang, The red positive heavenly forces, and the blue negative cosmic forces).  The four black symbols describe heaven, fire, earth, and water. Together, the trig rams represent movement and harmony as primary principles.

History: It was found in 1882, but the symbols are among the oldest found on any nation’s flag. On August 22, 1882, Korean politician Park Yeong-Hyo displayed a scale model of the Taegeukgi to the Joseon government and soon became the first person to use the flag in the Empire of Japan later that year.

In March 1883, the Joseon government formally confirmed the Taegeukgi as the official national flag. A version similar to the current South Korean flag continued to be used up until the division of Korea when each country then used its flag.

Finally, on October 15, 1949, the country’s government announced the current South Korean flag, although it had been used as the national flag for some time before then.

National Anthem of South Korea- Aegukga

Significance:The lyrics of Korea’s national anthem were first written around 1907 to inspire love and loyalty to the country and a sense of freedom when the country was under foreign control.

Generally, Aegukga refers to any song that expresses love for one’s country. However, the term has become compatible with Korea’s national anthem. It is one of the most important National Symbols of South Korea that imbibes it’s spirit perfectly.

History: During the period of development in the late Joseon Dynasty, several patriotic songs were used. In 1896, the first versions of the Dongnip Sinmun (The Independent) featured several lyrics for such songs, but it is unclear what melodies were sung with those lyrics.

According to records, a song named “Daehan Jeguk (Korean Empire) Aegukga” was composed in 1902, and the government arranged a western-style military band to perform it during significant state functions.

Initially, the Aegukga was sung to the melody of the Scottish folk song, “Auld Lang Syne.” While studying abroad, Korean composer Ahn Eak-Tai observed that this foreign melody was unfit for Korea’s national anthem.

In 1935, he produced the Symphonic Fantasy Korea, the finale of which became the current melody for the national anthem.

In Korea, the lyrics continued to be sung to the Scottish folk song until the Korean government was founded in 1948 following Japan’s independence. Afterwards, the song was widely spread abroad and was finally confirmed as the national anthem of Korea.

National Currency of South Korea- Korean Won

Significance: The Korea won’s is yet one of the National Symbols of South Korea. It existed as currency in Korea in some form for centuries, although other currencies, such as the Mun and the Yang, also served as the country’s currency at various times.

History: The modern version of the won determines back to 1902 when it was simply the Korean won since, at that time, the divisions of North Korea and South Korea did not exist. From 1910 to 1945, Korea was under Japan’s control, and the won was replaced with the Korean yen, attached to the Japanese yen.

At the end of the Second World War, following Japan’s surrender, the United States and the Soviet Union invaded Korea’s southern and northern parts, respectively. North Korea and South Korea’s organization was created in 1948, and a new South Korean won currency was announced in 1949.

Between 1953 and 1962, the won was replaced with the hwan, but the won restored in 1962. As before, the won was secured to the US dollar, this time with an initial replacement of 125:1.

The secured rate was again modified several times upward during the following years. Finally, in 1997, the Bank of Korea dropped the peg to the US dollar, allowing the South Korean won to float openly in the foreign exchange market.

National Flower of South Korea- Mugunghwa

Significance: The Mugunghwa is known as the national flower of South Korea. This is because the Mugunghwa expresses several values that Koreans have maintained for a long time. Hence it was adapted as one of the National Symbols of South Korea.

Most of all, endurance, very often Koreans are viewed as determined people. Like Koreans, this flower, Mugunghwa, is full of life and endurance, allowing them to live anywhere.

History: Korea’s history is riddled with enormous struggles and grief until as recently as 1953. The Mugunghwa, South Korea’s national flower, is recognized for its hardiness and strength.

The plant can regrow despite harsh conditions and even when damaged; thus, it is the ideal symbol of success.

The flower first achieved recognition as early as the Gojoseon Era (Unknown – 108BC), when the mugunghwa was considered “a blossom from heaven.” King Dangun was often painted with mugunghwa, representing its heavenly significance. Since then, the mugunghwa has made an occurrence in Korean history.

National Tree of South Korea- Pine

Significance: Pine is the national tree of South Korea and one of the National Symbols of South Korea.  It is an evergreen needle-leaf tall tree that is a part of Pinaceae. It grows in a large range under 800 meters above sea level except for the highlands in the northern part of Korea.

Pine is 20 to 40 meters high, and when it arises from 10 years, it has flowers and cones. It is not allergic to the soil; it grows well on fertile land, barren land, sandy soil and fields, and the seashore.

History: From ancient times the Korean people planted and cultivated pine, regarding it as a symbol of unalterable constancy and will, manly strength, and longevity.

People regarded the green pine woods as typical natural scenery. Such a natural environment was kept in the mind of the Korean nation, and people frequently liked drawing pine and describing it in literary works, including poems.

National Animal of South Korea-Tiger

Significance: The tiger has been strongly affiliated with Korean people and Korean culture.  The 1988 Summer Olympics held in Seoul is Hodori, an artificial tiger to represent Korean people.

History: Throughout the centuries Koreans, both feared and cherished the top predator as the most fortunate animal and the legendary animal of the dragon. The tiger holds a deep and heavenly status in the culture of South Korea.

In the past, people of the nation even offered atonement to tigers while praying to God for rain. Due to the above reasons mentioned, the tiger was titled as the national animal. The mountainous landscape of Korea was once home to huge tigers, with the end goal that the nation was publicly known as the “land of Tigers.”

Korea was also once called the “place where there are amazing individuals who realize how to tame the tiger,” showing the pleasant connection among tigers and the Korean public. From outdated occasions through the Joseon Dynasty, Koreans have communicated their respect for tigers differently.

National Bird of South Korea-Magpie

Traditionally loved by the Korean people, the magpie is believed to be a favorable bird and a messenger of good fortune. According to a Korean folktale, magpies built a bridge to help two star-crossed lovers reunite hence it was included as one of the National Symbols of South Korea.

Significance: The most famous painting related to a magpie is the one with a striped tiger, Hangul the magpie, is chirping at a tiger. The magpie symbolized good news, and the tiger symbolized good luck since its pronunciation in Chinese sounds similar to good luck (bok). There are many folktales about magpies.

History: The magpie was chosen as the national bird of Korea in 1964 after receiving a considerable amount of votes in a national contest. Koreans considered that magpies delivered good news, and when they saw a magpie chattering, they believed that visitors were coming.

National Sport of South Korea- Taekwondo

Korea’s most famous involvement in the history of sport is Taekkyeon, a type of martial art introduced in the Korean peninsula in the fourth century. Taekwondo was not to be confused with Taekwondo, a sport derived in South Korea, but in the mid-20th century,

Taekkyeon was in 1983 identified as an Important Indefinable Cultural Asset by the Korean government. It was added by UNESCO to its Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2011.

Like Taekkyeon, Ssireum, or Korean wrestling, are also a part of Korea’s athletic and cultural heritage since the fourth century. The full-contact sport was initially used as part of military training before becoming a diversion pastime.

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National Symbols Of South Korea


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Parting Words

South Korea is one of the most desirable countries at present.It is a pioneer in technology and Oil & Gas industry. Korean Tourism industry has been working towards welcoming visitors from all over the world.

South Korea is a developed nation with facilities at par with most of the Western countries. Sometimes it even excels in many area like standard of living, amenities and most importantly security.

It is a perfect example of modernization and traditional living all at the same time. Knowing all the national symbols of South Korea will help you understand the cultural heritage and the ethical value.

Garima Nag
A compulsive traveler, voracious reader & habitual fashionista. Love to explore, live & laugh. Read More

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