Korean Unification Flag
Most people are familiar with the fact that the Korean peninsula and Korean people have been separated for over half a century. Following the Second World War, the nation was divided along the 38th parallel and each nation developed along different routes. The Northerners embraced Communism and followed the Juche ideal, while their southern neighbors became an outpost of the capitalist system on the Asian mainland.
Yet while disagreements remain, it appears that both nations have an earnest desire for reconciliation and cultural diplomacy has been a useful vehicle in promoting unification.
The recent trend for North Korea and South Korea to compete together as one nation in global sports events is certainly a positive development. The two nations started competing together in 1991 at the World Table Tennis Championship in Japan in and the World Football Championships in Lisbon. While the two nations did not compete together in the Beijing Olympics, they did march together under one flag in Sydney 2000, Athens in 2004, Turin 2006 and the Doha Games in 2006.
Anyone familiar with tensions between North and South Korea will agree this represents a breakthrough in relations. Yet, this begs a question; what flag do they march under?
The answer is simple. They march under the Korean Unification Flag.
This flag was first used in 1991 during the table tennis championships in Japan and was designed specially for this event. This flag not only represent each nation’s desires for unification, but is in itself a monument to the cooperation which made it possible.
Yet, unfortunately all is not well in the flag department.
Recently a disagreement has erupted between the North and South over the use of the flag and national anthems in and an impending preliminary match in Pyongyang in March of 2010. It seems that North Korea would like the unification flag to fly and a neutral Korean anthem to be played at the start of the match. However, Federation International Football Association (FIFA) regulations stipulate that during FIFA games, each nation’s individual flag must be flown.
North Korea argues that this violates the spirit of the June 15th Joint Declaration the two nations share. The FIFA governing body has been called in to moderate the disagreement.
Yet, there are other issues. The flag, which consists of a blue silhouette of the Korean peninsula on a white background, now includes the Liancourt Rocks a territory who ownership is disputed with Japan.