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Korean Reunification Flag variants

Last modified: 2022-10-08 by christopher oehler
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Korean Unification Flag

From The Fraught Politics Of Olympic Flag Design by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan (

In January, North Korea and South Korea announced they would march together at the Games under a single design: The so-called "unification flag."

The graphic, showing the Korean peninsula in light blue on a white background, has flown in the Olympics before, in 2000, and was created in 1990 for use in the Asian Games, the international competition that happens every four years in the region. It's made a handful of appearances since then. The flag has acted as a magnet for controversy this week; conservative protesters in Seoul burned and tore up the flag in a demonstration against North Korean participation while others waved it happily in a show of support for the visiting North Korean athletes. According to the New York Times, South Koreans are fairly divided over the issue, and increasingly, young people don't see unification as an important goal. To some, the flag seems like a symbol of misguided priorities.

Meanwhile, Japan protested a detail of the flag’s design, which one official called "extremely regrettable." The problem? A light-blue speck on the eastern side of the landmass.

The dot - which is so small, it's not really visible in the above image - represents an uninhabited landmass known as the Liancourt Rocks (aka Dokdo in Korean, or Takeshima in Japanese). The islands have been in dispute between South Korea and Japan for decades, and when the unified Korean hockey team flew the unification flag during a practice match this week, Japan reportedly lodged a formal complaint with the International Olympic Committee. The IOC, as the de facto arbiter here, recommended that the flag be changed if it flies during the Opening Ceremony on Friday - to which the delegation reportedly agreed.

On Friday, keep your eyes peeled for the flag - which is “the only thing that makes both feel comfortable,” according to one minister quoted by the Korea Herald. It's not the first unofficial flag flown at the games as a form of political protest, though. In 1906, at the games in Athens, an Irish medalist who had to compete for England protested by reportedly shimmying up the flagpole at the ceremony and replacing the Union Jack with “a green flag blazoned with a gold harp and the words ‘Érin go Bragh,'” or Ireland Forever. Ten years later, Ireland would declare independence (and incite a war). The future of a unified Korea seems less certain.

William Garrison, 21 July 2021

Korean bus drivers' flag

[Reunification flag variant] image by Marcus Schmöger

In a recent issue of Süddeutsche Zeitung (6 Feb 2003; p. 8) there was a photo of (South) Korean bus drivers holding flags quite similar to the "Korean Olympic flag".
The flags were used during a first test trip for a road connection between South and North Korea; I guess, they were attached to the buses in some way, making kinds of "car flags".
The flags were square, had a thin blue border, and the blue map was more detailed.
Marcus E.V. Schmöger, 16 February 2003

United Republic of Korea

[United Republic of Korea flag] image by screen name Thorondun, 05 October 2006

It is the flag of the United Republic of Korea from Dale Browns novel Battle Born, as described on page 363:

There were two dark blue bars at the top and bottom of the banner representing the sky and strength of the earth. The white middle section symbolized the united land. The circle in the center, the taeguk, represented yin-yang, the power of opposites. Its red yang upper half, or positive side, represented life, goodness and fire; the lower yin blue half, or negative side, represented evil, death, darkness and cold. The two segments were entwined, meaning they could never be separated. Surrounding the center circle were the four broken-bar trigrams, taken from ancient Taoist and Confucian thought, representing virtuous ideals important to a long and happy life.
I'm not sure the sides are equally wide, so if its accepted in this manner, it may need some minor adjustment.
Thorondun, 05 October 2006

If you're wondering whether such a flag will really be used should Korea become whole again: I doubt it. The basic design of the flag used in the South is the same of that of the flag of Korea before it was divided, and I expect it will be used once more when it is united again. If blue is added to it, it will probably be that the kwae are once more coloured in blue, as they were in the past.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 08 January 2012

I agree with your view, in terms of real world. However I meant the likeliness of this design within the fictional setting — maybe a stronger presence of specific northern heritage in the fictional post-unification Korea. Of course this design may have been chosen by the author (or someone else on his behalf) not to specifically include an unexpected northern token but rather, out of ignorance of the "irredentist" and pre-split nature of the South Korean flag in real world, as a plain-faced attempt at a vexillographic hybrid of the two flags — which illustrates yet another interesting angle of fictional vexillology.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 08 January 2012

Spectator holds pro-unification flag at Asian Games in Incheon

[Reunification flag variant] image located by David Martucci, 04 October 2014

Is anyone able to read what it says on the flag?
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 17 April 2015

I can't see the first word at the top of the Korean Peninsula silhouette. The second word is 통일 which roughly translates to "unification" or "unity." The third word is 하나 which translates to "one" or "first." And the final word is 사랑 which translates as "love." Google translates the three words we can see, 통일 하나 사랑, as "one love united," but I'm sure there's more to it than that. Wish we could find a photograph showing the entire inscription.
Randy Young, 17 April 2015

For what it's worth, here's the official website of those games: (maybe you can find something there)
Esteban Rivera, 17 April 2015

Reunification flag variant

[Reunification flag variant] image located by Esteban Rivera, 24 August 2015

Dean Thomas posted on April 2, 2015 on the Facebook group "Emblems of the World" the link for the group "Flags and Emblems of DPR Korea". In the latter group, a member, 睡蓮三つ (who labels himself as "Timmy D") posted on August 17, 2015 a link for this news report (which was originally posted by this group.
The news report does not feature the same flag as the Facebook post (a white horizontal flag with a logo and an inscription in Korean below).
Image is screenshot from image displayed from shared link of this news report during the 70th anniversary of the Gwangbokjeol (meaning "the day the light returned"), also called as the National Liberation Day of Korea, celebrated annually on August 15, here in the 2015 celebration.

Also, this Facebook group "615haewe" also features a Korean unification flag with the Korean Peninsula in blue, in the middle of a white horizontal flag, but without any inscription (similar to this one but without the lettering) as seen in the following pictures:

Esteban Rivera, 24 August 2015