You may be seeing a lot of flags all around Korea lately. Streets, businesses and even your neighbor’s homes will be decked out in the taegeukgi . Or perhaps you’ve noticed that this week there’s a day off work. That’s because August 15th marks South Korea’s Gwangbokjeol, or National Liberation Day!
What is Gwangbokjeol?
Gwangbokjeol literally means “The day the light returned“, symbolizing South Korea’s freedom from the Japanese Imperialism in 1945, and it’s the National Liberation Day of Korea.
Needless to say, it’s a very important day for Koreans, in fact National Liberation day (Gwangbokjeol) is also celebrated in North Korea by the name 조국해방의 날 (Chogukhaebangŭi nal) which literally means “Liberation of Fatherland Day“. It’s the ONLY holiday shared by the two Koreas.
South Koreans celebrate this special occasion by raising the Korean Flag (taegeukgi 태극기), almost everywhere, you might have seen it in the streetlights or hanging in trees.
The South Korean flag, also referred to as Taegeukgi, is a symbol of great pride for South Koreans. The white background means peace and purity, the red and blue Taeguk in the middle draw inspiration from Yin and Yang and represent balance, while the four black trigrams at the corners symbolize four different elements, as shown below.
How is it Celebrated?
Citizens of South Korea are encouraged to hang the Taegeukgi outside their houses, either in their doors or outside the windows.
During this day, there is an official ceremony where the President attends the Independence Hall of Korea in Cheonan or the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, and the official “Gwangbokjeol song” (광복절 노래) is played.
Happy Gwangbokjeol – National Liberation Day, Korea!