|Design||A white background with the Korean Peninsula on it in blue|
|Korean Unification Flag|
|North Korean name|
|South Korean name|
North and South Korea initially planned to compete as one team at the 1990 Asian Games, and conceived the Korean Unification Flag amid logistical difficulties with raising two flags at once. While the unified team effort was not realized, the flag was prominently displayed by an unofficial cheerleading group during the Games.
The background is white. In the center is a sky blue silhouette of the Korean Peninsula, including Jeju Island to the southwest. The silhouette is a slightly smoothed version of the actual coastline and northern border; according to both Koreas, the shape of the peninsula is "symbolic" and several smaller islands such as Geojedo are visibly omitted. The agreement creating the flag explicitly excluded Maando, Marado, and Dokdo/Liancourt Rocks (the Koreas' westernmost, southernmost, and easternmost islands).
Ulleungdo was added to the flag in 2002, and the disputed Liancourt Rocks were added in 2003.
Around September 2006, Socotra Rock was also added to the flag after an EEZ dispute flare-up with China. It is unconfirmed whether it was present at any future official or unofficial usages of the flag.
Ulleungdo and the Liancourt Rocks were removed in an official capacity at the 2018 Winter Olympics and other events in 2018, following alleged pressure from the IOC and Japan. The IOC has told South Korea that including the Liancourt Rocks officially would be seen as "a political act" and violate the IOC's neutrality, to which South Korea agreed. Japan allegedly pressured South Korea to officially remove Ulleungdo as well, citing the "Chiba precedent" (where the flag's first official use, in Chiba, did not include it). Ulleungdo was added back in 2019.
According to South Korean government policy, it allows use of the Liancourt Rocks variation during private events or by people in an unofficial capacity, including cheerleaders. For example, in the 2018 Winter Olympics, the variation was used on the women's ice hockey team's training uniforms, by the North Korean cheerleading groups during the opening ceremony, and during the team's evaluation match five days prior to the opening ceremony (which was hosted by the Korea Ice Hockey Association and not officially part of the Olympic schedule). Japan has protested these uses. Additionally, it appeared on the team's official (non-training) uniforms four days before the opening ceremony; BBC reported that it was quickly removed following media attention, while Yonhap News Agency reported that it was not removed until just before opening ceremony entry.
Korean Peninsula and Jeju Island
Korean Peninsula, Jeju Island, and Ulleungdo
Korean Peninsula, Jeju Island, Ulleungdo, and the Liancourt Rocks
The Korean Unification Flag has been officially used at several international events, either for a unified team, or when the two teams march together in the opening ceremony while competing separately.
In addition to international events, inter-Korean sporting events have used the Unification Flag.
The flag was not used in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Not only was a unified team shelved, but the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG)'s plan to make the two Korean teams enter consecutively during the opening ceremony was rejected due to opposition by the North Korean delegation at the last moment.
Other occasions on which the flag were used include the following:
- The flag was prominently displayed at the border between the two sides when South Korean president, Roh Moo-hyun, walked into North Korea on an official visit in 2007.
- In 2010, a large group of North Korean citizens and officials waved the flag when saying goodbye to South Korean Reverend Han Sang-ryol returning to South Korea from North Korea by crossing the DMZ line, but he was immediately arrested upon his return to South Korea.
- In 2012, a large group of North Korean citizens and officials waved the flag when saying goodbye to Ro Su-hui, vice-chairman of the Reunification of the Fatherland Union (Pomminryon). This was on the occasion of his return to South Korea from North Korea by crossing the DMZ line. Media reports referred to the flag as the “Korea is one” flag. He was immediately arrested upon his return to South Korea (the moment he stepped over the border mark of the two Koreas) and later jailed.
According to American scholar and Korea expert Brian Reynolds Myers, South and North Koreans view the flag in different contexts. South Koreans see the flag as representing a peaceful relationship and coexistence with North Korea, whereas North Koreans view its usage by South Koreans as representing a desire to have their country annexed into North Korea. In this sense, Myers says, South Korean usage of the flag is more detrimental to their country's status vis-à-vis North Korea than North Koreans' usage of it in regards to South Korea.
- Chinese Taipei Olympic flag
- Proposed flags of Taiwan
- United Team of Germany
- Division of Korea
- Flag of North Korea
- Flag of South Korea
- Korean reunification
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By forbearing to march behind the yin-yang flag at the opening ceremony of the Olympics, the South Korean athletes are making a bigger sacrifice than the North Koreans... [T]he peninsula flag means two very different things to the two Koreas. In the South it symbolizes a desire for peaceful co-existence, or at most for a unification of equal partners in the reassuringly remote future. In wall posters above the DMZ it has always symbolized the southern masses' yearning for "autonomous unification," meaning absorption by the North. It's worrying to think how inner-track propaganda is certain to misrepresent the South Koreans' eschewal of their state flag for this of all symbols — and at this of all events.
- North & South Korea, Sydney 2000 (page on non-national Olympic flags)
- Relationship between South and North Korea in 1990s
- Explanation and detailed design of the Korean Unification Flag (in Japanese)
- North, South Agree to Add Dokdo to the Korean Unification Flag (in Korean)
- Korean Unification Studies