Useless Tree has a post up on the Chinese roots of the Korean flag. This post led me to look up an interesting, if rather old, article on the use of “the T’ai Chi symbol in Japanese wartime propaganda.”1 That Japanese governments in China used “Chinese/Pan-Asian” images like the Great Ultimate was not news to me. What was new was his discussion of the use of the image in Korea. Obviously in the end it ended up on the Korean flag, but before that it was a very common symbol in Korean architecture, turning up on all sorts of gates and entryways, especially for official buildings, schools, temples, etc. Rowe also says that the symbol turned up on the Independence Arch in Seoul, which was erected right after the Russo-Japanese War and symbolized Korean independence. Soon after that the flag became a symbol of resistance against Japan. Has anybody done anything more recent than Rowe on Korean nationalist symbolism?
Rowe, David Nelson. “The T’Ai Chi Symbol in Japanese War Propaganda.” The Public Opinion Quarterly 5, no. 4 (Winter 1941): 532-547. ↩