|The idea of eum and yang, probably originated from the old Koran philosophy of Sam-Sin with the meaning of three gods, is quite similar to the above. While representing the dualism of the cosmos, the harmonious state of the eum-yang movement is called "Taegeuk." Eum means darkness and coldness while yang means brightness and hotness.
The "Taegeuk" mark at the center is divided into two equal parts. The upper half red circle represents yang while the lower half blue circle represents yin or eum, and this stands for the state of harmony of yin and yang or eum and yang. The mark also represents the principles of cosmology and ontology appearing in oriental philosophy.
The symbols in the four corners, surrounding the "Taegeuk" mark, are called Kwae which means the principle of movement and harmony. Each "Kwae" consists of three bars of divination signs that can be either broken or unbroken bars. A broken bar stands for yin or eum while an unbroken bar stands for yang. Among so many states of Kwae, four basic states of Kwae are used in the Korean national flag, Taegeuk-ki. For example, the upper left Kwae is called Kun ( ) with the meaning of heaven, spring, or east; the lower left Kwae is called Yi ( ) with the meaning of fire, sun, autumn, or south; the upper right Kwae is called Kam ( ) with the meaning of water, moon, winter, or north; and the lower right Kwae is called Kon ( ) with the meaning of earth, summer, or west. In other words, each Kwae symbolizes one of the four universal elements: heaven, fire, water, earth. Moreover, the white colored background stands for the peace and the purity of the Korean people.
Taegeuk-ki was first hosted on a ship to Japan in 1882, carrying a Korean envoy Park Young-Hyo, and it was formally proclaimed as the national flag of the Republic of Korea in 1883. For the Korean people, Taegeuk-ki is a source of pride and inspiration and also has been a symbol of freedom and independence.