Young Pioneer Tours

History of Korean Flags

History of Korean Flags

Korean flags instead of Korea flag is the result of Korea being split in two these days, but it has a glorious history as a unified state. It has also been through a hell of a lot of changes, which means there have been a lot of versions of the Korean flag..

Here’s our guide to the history of the Korean Flag, from Koryo to the DPRK.

The history of the flags of Korea

The First Korean Flag

The Goryeo Dynasty is also when Chili powder was introduced to Kimchi, making it the spicy and delicious staple food of Korea today

Goryeo,  or as it is also spelled Koryo, was the first unified state on the Korean peninsula. It is from the word Koryo that we get the transliteration of Korea. It lasted until the Joseon Dynasty came to power in 1392.

There is only one known Koryo Flag. The Royal flag, also known as the Bong-gi truly is quite a funky affair

Korean Flags – Flag of the Joseon Dynasty

If I was Korean, I’d fly this flag. Hypnotizing isn’t it?

The next entrant comes from 1856 and again, represents the Royal flag of the dynasty, rather than a national flag per se. As you will see it is much more artistic than any flag that currently exists. Fun fact YPT was nearly called Joseon Tours – so glad we did not do that.

Flag of the Korean Empire

Now we’re getting closer and closer to its modern incarnation; at least for the south.

The Korean Empire succeeded the previous incarnation of the country and was to last from 1897 until the annexation of Korea by Japan in 1910. This was also during the attempts at modernization in the county. In many respects, this marks the first national flag of a unified Korea. As you will see it bears more than a resemblance to the current flag of South Korea . The current flag of the Republic of Korea is indeed based on this design. As we can see, the design of our Korean flags are more contemporary.

Flag of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea

We’re getting there! Almost the same as the flag of the ROK.

This government in exile was based in China during the Japanese occupation of Korea. It is based again on the flag of the Korean Empire. It is considered by Koreans to have been the national flag between 1919 and 1948.

Flag of the People’s Republic of Korea

The People’s Republic of Korea was the last unified Korean state to exist on the Peninsula, before being dismantled by the Soviet Union and USA. This was a very interesting of short period in the history of Korea, that you can read about here.

Interestingly this Korean flag has a lot of similarities with the Imperial flag, but with a change in color and a bit more revolutionary zeal to it.

The flags after the division of Korea

Following the division of Korea, you could say that there are now 3 Korean flags, the North Korean flag, which you can read about here, the South Korean flag, which you can read about here (link) and lastly the unified flag of Korea, which you can read about here.

And that is the history of the flags of unified Korea!

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