Suppose you are walking down a street. On the street you see buildings, flags, signs, advertisements, schools, children, and cars. How much extra somatic information do you get on the street? Extra somatic information is information stored outside your body. Alix Spiegel says we live in a symbolic world. All the symbols that you see on the street are signifiers that have signified meanings. The languages you speak, read, and write every day are also symbols. According to Scott McCloud, symbols are one category of icon. In a linguistic way, icon means any image used to represent a person, place, thing, or idea. A flag is an example of icon. Taegukgi, the national flag of South Korea, represents the universe and shows the sorrow and pleasure of Korean history.
History, Etymology and UsageEdit
Young Hyo Park, a politician, designed Taegukgi. During the period that Japanese ruled Korea, the Japanese forbade Taegukgi. Young Hyo Park and many activists worked for independence and used Taegukgi as a symbol of resistance and independence. There are four Korean national holidays: National Liberation Day, the Independence Movement of March 1st, Constitution Day, and the National Foundation Day. On these days, Koreans put up Taegukgi on streets and doors. In1882, both South and North Korea accepted Taegukgi as a symbol of Korea, but after three years, North Korea changed it to a more soviet form.
Taegukgi has trigrams on each corner. On the left upper corner, the three lines are called geon. Geon represents the sky and justice. RI, the four lines under the geon, represents the sun and wisdom. On the right upper corner, the five lines are called gam, and they represent the moon and vitality. The last six lines at the right bottom, called gon, represent the earth and fertility. In the middle of Taegukgi, there is Taeguk. Taeguk is derived from Yin Yang. It represents the origin of all things in the universe and continuous history.
Taegukgi in FictionEdit
Here are two fictional stories about Taegukgi: Father’s Taegukgi and Brotherhood of War. Both stories were developed in the same time period and both deal with Taegukgi, but the ways Taegukgi is reflected are completely different. Father’s Taegukgi is about a boy who lived in a war. In the story, the narrator, the boy, describes a scene of the war: “The air strike continued until the afternoon…….My father pulled out something from his backpack and unfolded it. It was Taegukgi. He spread it out on his backpack so it could be seen from the sky.” In this story, Taegukgi shows the father’s patriotism and courage, but in Brotherhood of War, Taegukgi is meaningless. Although the brothers win the war and the Taegukgi flutters, it is nothing if their family and they suffered from the war. It is a brother’s line from the film. “I wish it was a dream. Later I open my eyes in my room and I will tell you that I have a strange dream.”
Taegukgi in Non-FictionEdit
I was looking for a non fictional text, and I found an article about Taegukgi. This news article is about Guri, a Korean city. Guri has been declared “the first city of Taegukgi” to encourage people’s patriotism. The Mayor of Guri, Young Soon Park says, “love for country comes from love for Taegukgi, but I feel sorry for the fact that many family don’t hoist Taegukgi even on the four most important national holidays.” As the Mayor of Guri said, many Koreans does not care about the reason for these holidays. They are not just holidays. We should think of people who worked for our country and remind ourselves of the love of country.
Taegukgi contains adversity and happiness of Korean history. You cannot imagine how cruel and miserable a history Korea had. We still have the scars on our history and they will never be removed. In this harsh history, Taegukgi was a driving force; Taegukgi united Koreans and encouraged their desire for independence. It should be important and meaningful for all Koreans, but I think the meaning of Taegukgi is being forgotten. I wish Koreans remembered and were proud of Taegukgi. S.J from 9th grade says, “It is a beautiful and symbolic flag.” Hanuel Lee, also from 9th grade, says, “There are a lot of ideas. It shows the experiences of ancient Korea.” My dad says, “When I see Taegukgi, I want Korea to be a strong country and I am proud of my country.”
Bibliography and External SourcesEdit
Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics
Alix Spiegel, What Makes Us Modern
Carl Sagan, Dragons of Eden
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