Korean culture has evolved through centuries of political and social change, while maintaining thousands of years of ancient Korean culture with influence from ancient Chinese culture. Though the country has undergone rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, have taken over Korea their cultural backbone is just as strong as it ever was.
Many Korean symbols are identical to the Chinese characters for longevity, fertility, fortune, and luck. Common themes in the Korean symbolisms comprise of longing for love, happiness, good fortune, and paradise.
Here are a few interesting Korean Cultural Symbols:
1. Taegeuk- The Ultimate Existence
Taegeuk refers to the ultimate reality from which all values and things are acquired. In Buddhism, this pattern means balance and ultimate equality. It not only embodies the dual principle of Yin and Yang but also personifies the continuous cycle of life.
2. Symbolism of colours in Korea
The cultural blending of colour seen in traditional Korean architecture, decor, and clothing stem from the Eastern religions like Confucianism and Buddhism. The colours are associated with the five directions and elements. The five main colours are yellow representing earth, white representing metal, black representing water, blue/green representing wood, and red representing fire.
3. Korean Houses
Authentic Korean houses are called Hanok. According to geomancy (the art of placing or arranging buildings or other sites auspiciously), the house should be built against a hill and it should be built facing the south side, to receive the optimum amount of sunlight. The shape of the building and the material it is built from are influenced by geomancy.
4. Family values
The family is the most important part of a Korean’s life. The father is the head of the family and it is upon him to provide clothing, shelter, food, and to approve the marriages of family members. The eldest son of the family will eventually assume full responsibility for both, his parents and his younger siblings.
5. Korean Clothing
The traditional clothing adorned by Koreans is known as Hanbok. Since time immemorial the hanbok has been worn. It comprises of a shirt also known as Jeogori and a skirt known as Chima. Though Hanbok isn’t as prominent as it once was, you will still find the elderly wearing it.
6. Meeting and Gift giving etiquettes
Greeting in Korea follows a strict rule of conduct. Many Koreans shake hands with non-natives after a bow, thereby merging both cultural practices.
It is considered inappropriate to give someone an exorbitant gift if you know they can’t afford to reciprocate it. Giving 4 of anything is considered unlucky in Korea, whereas giving 7 of something is considered to be extremely lucky.
7. Double Hee – Double Hee symbol extends to a harmonious union of Yin and Yang energies derived from the Chinese Cosmology. It is a sign of happiness for both the husband and the wife. It is found at wedding ceremonies throughout Korea. It is a wish for the couple to enjoy a blissful marital life. It is commonly seen in Chinese marital celebrations across the world.
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