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Korean Flags to be Registered Cultural Heritage

Posted January. 07, 2008 07:53,   


The national flag “taegeukgi” will become a national heritage this year, a first since its official adoption in 1883.

The Cultural Heritage Administration made the announcement Sunday, saying that around Independence Day this year marking the Republic of Korea’s 60th anniversary, the flag will be registered as a modern cultural heritage.

The candidates are 29 taegeukgis owned by Independence Hall, the National Institute of Korean History, Ewha Womans University Museum and Hanam Museum of History. Selection will wrap up this month. The flag of the provisional government owned by the Ewha museum, the taegeukgi autographed by freedom fighter Kim Ku, and General Cho Byeong-sun’s bulwonbok taegeukgi are the leading candidates for cultural heritage designation.

The official flag used by the Korean government-in-exile in Shanghai (width 257.5cm, length 128cm• photo from the Cultural Heritage Administration) was the one used during Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula. Korean martyr Yun Bong-gil (1908∼1932) is known to have made an oath in front this flag before he threw a bomb in Hongkou Park in 1932.

The flag autographed by freedom fighter Kim (width 60cm, length 45cm• produced in 1941; •photo by Song Myeong-ho) was sent by him to the wife of fellow independent activist Ahn Chang-ho. Kim left the following message: “To avoid the sadness of being deprived of a nation, and to enjoy liberty and happiness, let us lend our spiritual energy, human energy and material energy to the independence army, drive out our degenerating enemy, the Japanese, and achieve complete independence.”

“Bulwonbok taegeukgi” (width 129cm, length 82cm• produced in 1907• photo by Song Myeong-ho) has the letters bulwonbok, meaning “the time of return is near,” written by General Cho, who worked in Gurye, South Jeolla Province, during Japanese colonial rule of Korea. He used this flag when his army fought the Japanese.

Another candidate is a taegeukgi given to a U.S. Marine by a Korean during the Korean War. The flag was later donated to the eastern Seoul suburb of Hanam in 2005 (width 85cm, length 67.5cm• believed to date to 1952∼53• Hanam Museum of History; photo from the Cultural Heritage Administration). Also in the running is a taegeukgi used by Korean immigrants in Mexico during Japanese colonial rule (width 44cm, length•31cm• National Institute of Korean History • photo from the Cultural Heritage Administration).

Lee Man-yeol, chairman of the Modern Cultural Properties Division at the Cultural Properties Committee, said, “[This project] will add historical value to taegeukgis by telling when, where and how they were used and what patterns and messages were added to them in different times in Korean history.”