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National Symbols

National Flag

The Korean flag is called Taegeukgi. Its design symbolizes the principles of the yin and yang in Asian philosophy. The circle in the center of the flag is divided into two equal parts. The upper red section represents the proactive cosmic forces of the yang. Conversely, the lower blue section represents the responsive cosmic forces of the yin. The two forces embody the concepts of continual movement, balance, and harmony that characterize the sphere of infinity. The circle is surrounded by four trigrams, one in each corner. Each trigram symbolizes one of the four universal elements: heaven, earth, fire, and water.

National Flower

Koreans have loved the rose of Sharon for centuries. According to records, Koreans have treasured the rose of Sharon as a heavenly flower since ancient times. In fact, the Silla Kingdom called itself Mugunghwa Country. Even the ancient Chinese referred to Korea as "The land of gentlemen where Mugunghwa blooms." Love for the flower was further heightened when Mugunghwa samcheolli hwaryeo gangsan" ("Rose of Sharon, thousand miles of beautiful mountain and river land!") was written into the national anthem of the late 19th century. As the rose of Sharon has been an important part of the Korean culture for centuries, it was only natural that the government adopted it as the national flower after Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule.

There are more than 100 cultivars of the rose of Sharon indigenous to Korea. There are single, semi-double, and double types of flowers. Depending on the colors of flower, they are divided into 3 groups, Dansim (flower with red center), Baedal (pure white flower), and Asadal (pink dots on the edges of the petals). The Dansim, single types of flowers, serves as Korea's national flower.

The rose of Sharon blooms from early July through late October. Some 2,000 to 3,000 bloom on a single plant, which is strong enough to survive even when it is transplanted or cut for decoration or flower arrangements. Thus, the flower represents the wish for lasting national development and prosperity.
Koreans cherish and care for the national flower as it symbolizes the many glories the country has experienced and the trials and tribulations the people have overcome.

National Anthem

Our national anthem is "Aegukga," which means a "Love the Country." In 1896, the Dongnip Sinmun (Independence News) published various versions of lyrics for this song. It is not known exactly what music they were sung to in its early days. Records show that a Western-style military band was formed during the time of the Dae-han Empire (1897-1910) and that "the Daehan Empire Aegukga" was composed in 1902 and played at important national functions.

The original words of Aegukga appeared in a written form around 1907 to inculcate allegiance to the nation and foster the spirit of independence as the country faced threats of foreign annexation. Over the years, the lyrics have gone through several versions until they were adopted as the national anthem in the present form in 1948.

Before the birth of the Republic in 1948, the words were often sung to the tune of the Scottish folk song, Auld Lang Syne. Maestro Ahn Eak-tai (1905-1965), then living in Spain, felt that it was inappropriate to sing this patriotic song to the tune of another country's folk song. So, he composed new music to go with the lyrics in 1935, and the Korean Provisional Government in exile adopted it as the national anthem. While Koreans outside the country sang the anthem to the new tune, those at home continued to use Auld Lang Syne till after Korea was liberated in 1945.

The Republic of Korea Government in 1948 officially adopted the new version as the national anthem and began to use it at all schools and official functions.


 
 

  General Information of Korea  
   Facts and Figures of Korea
· Country Name : Republic of Korea · Capital City : Seoul (10.1 million) · National flag : Taegeukgi · National flower : Mugunghwa (Rose of Sharon) · Currency : won · Language : Korean (Written form: Hangeul) · Location : Strategically located at the crossroads of …
   Geography
Korea is situated on the Korean Peninsula, which spans 1,100 kilometers north to south. The Korean Peninsula lies on the northeastern section of the Asian continent, where Korean waters are joined by the western-most parts of the Pacific. The peninsula shares its northern border with China and Russia. To the east is the East Sea, beyond which neighboring Japan lies. To the west is the Yellow Sea. In addition to the mainland, Korea includes some 3,200 i…
   Climate
Korea has four distinct seasons. Spring and autumn are rather short, summer is hot and humid, and winter is cold and dry with abundant snowfall, especially in the mountainous regions, but not along the southern coast. Temperatures differ widely from region to region within Korea, with the average being between 6°C (43°F) and 16°C (61°F). In early spring, Siberian winds pick up "yellow dust" from thawin…
   Population
As of the end of 2007, South Korea's total population was estimated to be 48,456,369 with a density of 498 people per square kilometer. The population of North Korea was estimated to be 23,200,238. Korea saw its population grow by an annual rate of 3 percent during the 1960s, but growth slowed to 2 percent over the next decade. In 2005, the rate stood at 0.21 percent and is expected to further decline to 0.02 percent by 2020. In the 19…
   Language
All Koreans speak and write the same language, which has been a decisive factor in forging their strong national identity. Korean has several different dialects in addition to the standard variety used in Seoul. Only the dialect of Jeju-do Province, however, is so different that it is difficult for others to understand. Linguistic and ethnological studies have classified the Korean language in the Altaic language family, which includes the T…
   National Symbols
National Flag The Korean flag is called Taegeukgi. Its design symbolizes the principles of the yin and yang in Asian philosophy. The circle in the center of the flag is divided into two equal parts. The upper red section represents the proactive cosmic forces of the yang. Conversely, the lower blue section represents the responsive cosmic forces of the yin. The two forces embody the concepts of continual movement, balance, and harmony that characteriz…
   Constitution

manuscript of the first Constitution of the Republic of Korea On July 17, 1948, the first Constitution of the Republic of Korea was adopted. As the nation underwent political upheavals in pursuit of democratic development, the Korean Constitution has been amended nine times, the last time on October 29, 1987. The current Constitution represents a major advancement in the direction of full democratization. Apart from a legitimate process of revision, a number of substantive changes are notable. They include the curtailment of presidential powers, the strengthening of the power of the legi…

   Executive Branch
The President Cheongwadae (Office of the President) The President of the Republic of Korea, elected by nationwide, equal, direct and secret ballot, stands at the apex of the executive branch. The President serves a single five-year term, with no additional terms being allowed. This single-term provision is a safeguard for preventing any individual from holding the reins of government power for a protracted period of time. In the event of…
   Legislature

The National Assembly Legislative power is vested in the National Assembly, a unicameral legislature. The Assembly is composed of 299 members serving four-year terms. Out of 299 members, 245 are elected by popular vote from local constituencies, while the remaining 54 members obtain their seats through a proportional representation system in which seats are allocated to each political party that has gained 3 percent or more of all valid votes or five or more seats in the local constituency election. The system is aimed at reflecting the voices of people from different walks of life whil…

   Judiciary

The Supreme Court The Judiciary of Korea consists of the Supreme Court, High Courts, District Courts, Patent Court, Family Court, Administrative and Local Courts. The courts exercise jurisdiction over civil, criminal, administrative, electoral, and other judicial matters, while also overseeing affairs related to real estate registrations, family registrations, financial holdings, and court officials. The Supreme Court is the highest judicial tribunal. It hears appeals on cases rendered by lower courts. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is appointed by the President with the consent …

   Independent Organizations
The Constitutional Court The Constitutional Court The Constitutional Court was established in September 1988 as a key part of the constitutional system. The Constitution of the Sixth Republic, based on the Korean people's deep enthusiasm for democracy, adopted a new judicial review system ― the Constitutional Court ― to safeguard the Constitution and to protect the people's basic rights by establishing special procedures for …
   Local Government
Seoul Plaza in front of City Hall The Constitution of the Republic of Korea states in Article 117 that "Local governments deal with matters pertaining to the welfare of local residents, manage properties and may, within the limit of laws, enact provisions relating to local autonomy regulations." Local government heads manage and supervise administrative affairs except as otherwise provided by law. The local…
   Organization Chart
Korean Government Organization Chart
   Presidency

The President is the head of state and represents the state in international affairs. The President is also the head of the executive branch, and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. In case of the President's death or disability, the Prime Minister will temporarily act as the President according to an order of succession provided by law. The President is elected for a single five-year term by popular vote through universal, equal, direct, secret balloting. The power and duties of the President are defined in the following six areas. First, the President, as head of state…

   Presidents of the ROK
Presidents of the ROK 1st, 2nd and 3rd President (1948 - 1960) 4th President (1960 - 1962) 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th President (1963 - 1979) 10th President (1979 - 1980) Chun Doo-hwan 11th, 12th President (1980 - 1988) Roh Tae-woo 13th President (1988 - 1993) Kim Young-sam 14th Pr…
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