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Erroneously Reported Flag of North Korea (1948)

Last modified: 2021-08-25 by ian macdonald
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[North Korea in 1948 - dubious]
image by David Martucci

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The Flag Bulletin [tfb], Vol. XIII, No. 5 [#51] September-October 1974, pgs. 99-108 contains an article by Whitney Smith (and illustrated by Dave Martucci) entitled "Symbols of the K.D.P.R." [smi74c] of which the following is excerpted:

The first documentation available to the Western world concerning the arms and flag of this new state [the Korean Democratic People's Republic] appears to be that presented in the Album de Banderas y Escudos de Todo el Mundo, published in Barcelona by Fher (in 1948?). ...

Reference is made in this book to the proclamation of a Communist Republic in North Korea and a flag of most unusual--if doubtfully authentic--design is illustrated. The field is square and red; it bears a white disc in the center surrounded by seventeen crossed yellow hammers and sickles. Within the disc is a worker dressed in blue cap, overalls, and apron, plus a pink shirt; he is holding a hammer. To his left are green plants, presumably intended to be rice, growing from water. Between these two emblems (symbolic of industry and agriculture) is a red star.

This flag may be pure fantasy, perhaps created when the publishers found they were unable to determine the correct design needed to fill the space in their album planned for the Korean Democratic People's Republic. Another possibility is that this flag was actually flown officially (or unofficially) during the period between Soviet liberation and the September 1948 proclamation of the republic. Finally, it could be that a somewhat similar flag was in actual use, its details having been distorted through reconstruction of the flag from a written description. This author believes the first alternative most likely.

Another intriguing reference to a flag for the Korean Democratic People's Republic about which no further information seems to be available is found in Robert Payne's Red Storm Over Asia. He states on p. 236: 'We may still see the Tibetans flying a flag like the flag which Kim Il Sung designed for northern Korea: a white powerhouse on a blue ground below a red star.' This suggests a flag based on the coat of arms of the Korean Democratic People's Republic or, possibly, confusion in the mind of the author between that coat of arms and the flag of the country."

David Martucci, 28 Sep 1999