South Korea




Republic of Korea

National Emblem

Great Seal

National Achievement

National Assembly

Security Service

Armed Forces



Air Force



Presidential Guard


Back to Korea




In December 1945, a conference was convened in Moscow to discuss the future of Korea and it was decided that the sovereign state of Korea would be restored. The de jure sovereignty was deemed to pass from the Joseon (Yi) Dynasty to the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. A 5-year trusteeship was discussed, and a joint Soviet-American commission was established. The commission met intermittently in Seoul but deadlocked over the issue of establishing a national government. In September 1947, with no solution in sight, the United States submitted the Korean question to the UN General Assembly.

Initial hopes for a unified, independent Korea quickly evaporated when the proclamation of the Republic of Korea in the south on 15 August 1948 was quickly followed by the proclamation of the Korean Democratic People’s Republic in the north on 9 September 1948.  On December 12, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations recognised the Republic of Korea as the sole legal government of Korea which resulted in the Korean War.


Daehan Minguk (Republic of Korea)



At the inauguration of the Republic on 15 August 1948 the flag of the empire was displayed.


Ceremonies on the day of inauguration of the Republic of South Korea, 17.08.1948.


The National Emblem


Somewhat later a (new) national emblem was introduced. This consists of a Rose of Sharon charged with the eum-yang emblem.


The Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus- Malvaceæ) is called mugunghwa in Korean. Its symbolic significance stems from the Korean word mugung, which means “eternity”. Today it is the national flower of South Korea.

It was probably chosen because at the Battle of Noryan (1598) which marked the end of a seven years war against the Japanese, such a flower was on the canopy of the ship’s commander’s seats.

This can be seen on a painting of that battle.


Scene of the Battle of Noryang 1598

í On this ship the commander’s seat is canopied with a sun and clouds supported by a hibiscus flower. His ensign is black and has a red-blue-yellow-white and black streamer. His umbrella also shows a hibiscus flower.

On the stern is a standard crested with a trident and on the counter are two whirls (gakhil) symbolizing ceaseless change and movement (referring to the name of the ship).


National Emblem on a Korean banknote, 1949

The Mugunghwa charged with a diamond enclosing a eum-yang symbol.


Early versions of the emblem are on banknotes issued in 1949 and on the jewel of the Grand Order of Mugunghwa, founded 13 August 1949.

Collar of the Order of Mugunghwa


Grand Order of Mugunghwa

Issued from 1949 to 1967. The pendant is described as 87 Í82 mm with the Mugunghwa flower being 58 mm across and the Taeguk symbol having a diameter of 10 mm. The Order is made of gold with silver being used to accent the Mugunghwa flowers along the length of the chain. The flowers on the chain represent each of the provinces and the cities of Seoul and Pusan which have provincial statue. Minor variations are known to exist.


A new emblem was adopted by the fourth Republic (1972-1981) and is still in use. This consists of the restyled  mugungwha and eum-yang symbol (the emblems of the state and the republic of Korea) surrounded by a scroll with the name of the country in Hangul-script.


Æ See illustration in the head of this essay.


The Great Seal of Korea


In May 1949, one year after the proclamation of the Republic of Korea, a new seal of state was created. On it was the legend “Seal of the Republic of Korea” in chinese characters. In 1962 the rules about the seal were changed and a new seal was made consisting of a square surface of  7Í7 cm, bearing the name of the country in Korean Jeonseo characters. It was adopted on 01.01.1963. The handle consisted of a tortoise, symbol of long life. The seal met with much criticism because its form was condemned inapropriate to a modern nation. As a result, when the surface of the seal began to show signs of wear in 1998, the government decreed that a new seal should be made  inscribed with the name of the country in Korean Hangeul script, and should have a handle in the form of a phoenix, symbolizing sovereign wisdom.

The new seal was adopted on 1 February 1999 to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Korea. Its face is inscribed in Hangeul script in honour of King Sejong the Great (1418-1450), the inventor of the Hangeul script.[1]

Prints of the first  and second seal of the Republic of Korea.


Seal of South Korea, 01.02.1999

Gold, 2150 g.; 10.1 Í 10.1 Í 10 cm. Inscription in Hangeul.



Face and print of the 3rd Seal of State, 01.02.1999


The National Achievement


The national achievement shows the emblem of the state of Korea, being the hibiscus flower, supported by two phoenixes, being the emblems of the head of state or the president.

The National Achievement is on the presidential seal and -flag.


Presidential Seal


Presidential Flag

Adopted 31.01.1967


National Assembly and Prime Minister






Emblem of the National Assembly

Emblem of the National Assembly, 2014


Emblem of the Prime Minister


National Intelligence Service 대한민국국가정보원, 국정원



National Intellicence Service seal

National Intellicence Service  seal (2016)




Armed Forces


Ministry of National Defense Emblem




Army Emblem


Army Officer’s Cap Badge




Navy Emblem


Air Force




Air Force Officer’s Cap badge

 Roundel 1950-2000

Roundel 2000-present


Marine Corps






The design of the emblem and seal of the R.O.K. Marine Corps is based on the design of the U.S. Marine Corps emblem and seal.









The present emblem of the Korean National Police Agency was designed at the 60th anniversary of the corps. It consists of an eagle, a balance and the national emblem.

The police badge consists of a disc with the legend POLICE in Hangeul and latin lettering, charged with another disc with the coloured eum-yang emblem, surrounded by five other eum-yang emblems in black and white.


Presidential Guard




Back to Main Page


© Hubert de Vries 2012- 02-01; Updated 2018-01-29


[1] See also: http://www.chinahistoryform.com