Now that an Unha-3 rocket emblazoned with the North Korean flag (or DPRK flag) has carried a satellite into space, and North Korea continues its nuclear program under Kim Jong Un, it’s a good time to answer the question: What does the North Korean flag mean?North Korea’s flag, officially the flag of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was adopted after World War II, when North Korea became a country, the communist half of a Korean peninsula split in two. It is based in part on the colors of the old standard of the Korean Empire. A major North Korean web site explains the North Korean flag colors: “The national Flag of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea consists of a central red panel, bordered both above and below by a narrow white stripe and a broad blue stripe. The central red panel bears a five-pointed red star within a white circle near the flagpole. The red star symbolizes the glorious revolutionary traditions inherited by the Republic. The red panel symbolizes the noble patriotic spirit of the revolutionary forerunners and the fighting spirit of the Korean people. The narrow white stripes represent the homogeneous Korean nation with a long history and resplendent culture. The broad blue stripes symbolize the desire to fight for the victory of the ideals of independence, peace and friendship in unity with the progressive peoples of the world. The ratio of the flag’s width to its length is 1:2.” (www.korea-dpr.com) The CIA World Factbook describes the North Korea national flag this way: “Three horizontal bands of blue (top), red (triple width), and blue; the red band is edged in white; on the hoist side of the red band is a white disk with a red five-pointed star; the broad red band symbolizes revolutionary traditions; the narrow white bands stands for purity, strength, and dignity; the blue bands signify sovereignty, peace, and friendship; the red star represents socialism.” The red star is also North Korea’s national symbol. Some observers say the circle surrounding the star on the pennant is also a reference to the Taeguk, a Korean symbol that forms the center of the South Korean flag. (Review the North and South Korean flag here and decide for yourself.) North Korea has also marched under the “Unification Flag,” which depicts a blue image of the Korean peninsula on a white background and represents North and South Korea when they join as one team in sports. For example, the two Olympic teams entered the 2000 Summer Olympics under this flag. In 2006, the countries reportedly agreed to add the Dokdo/Takeshima islands to the flag; ownership of the islands is hotly disputed between Korea and Japan. North Koreans, as do people in many other countries, take their flag seriously. A giant version of the North Korea flag, said to weigh 600 pounds, flies in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The banner was the center of an international flap in 2012, when Summer Olympics officials accidentally showed the South Korean flag instead of the North’s before a women’s soccer. The North Korean soccer team refused to take the field for forty minutes, no doubt desiring to demonstrate their patriotism to audiences abroad and at home. “We were angry because our players were introduced as if they were from South Korea, which may affect us very greatly, as you might know,” coach Sin Ui Gun told the Associated Press.
|Giant North Korean Flag Flies Over DPRK’s “Propaganda Village” (Gi Jong Don) in DMZ Courtesy: USAF
|North Korea Flag (source; World Factbook)
|Korean Unification Flag(updated to reflect Dokdo Islands)Credit: Wikimedia
|South Korean Flag: How Did the Olympics Once Mistake This and the North Korean Flag?