Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Ramhongsaek Konghwagukgi
UseNational flag and ensign Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag Reverse side is mirror image of obverse side Design has no element that can be rotated
Adopted10 July 1948; 75 years ago (1948-07-10) (introduced)
8 September 1948; 75 years ago (1948-09-08) (official)
DesignA wide red stripe at the centre, bordered by a narrow white stripe both above and below, followed by a blue stripe. The central red stripe carries a five-pointed red star within a white circle near the hoist.
Designed byKim Il Sung (North Korean official claim), Kim Ju-gyŏng
Flag of North Korea
Revised Romanizationlamhongsaek gonghwagukgi(bal)
McCune–Reischauerlamhongsaek konghwagukki(ppal)
Revised Romanizationhongramogakbyeolgi
인공기 (인민공화국기)
人共旗 (人民共和國旗)
Revised Romanizationin-gonggi (inmingonghwagukgi)
McCune–Reischauerin'gonggi (inmin'gonghwagukki)

The national flag of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, also known as the Ramhongsaek Konghwagukgi (Korean: 람홍색공화국기; literally "blue and red-coloured flag of the republic"), consists of a central red panel, bordered both above and below by a narrow white stripe and a broad blue stripe.[1] The central red panel bears a five-pointed red star within a white circle near the hoist.[2]

The flag is strictly prohibited under the National Security Act in South Korea due to its association with the North Korean government, and it is only allowed in extremely exceptional cases such as media coverage, drama and film, and international sports events.[3][4]


The North Korean national flag is officially defined in article 170 of Chapter VII of the North Korean constitution. According to it:

The national flag of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea consists of a central red panel, bordered both above and below by a narrow white stripe and a broad blue stripe. The central red panel bears a five-pointed red star within a white circle near the hoist.


The ratio of the width to the length is 1:2.[2]


Flag can be hoisted vertically only The vertical display

The North Korean flag's prominent motif is a red star, which is a universal symbol of communism and socialism.[5] Despite many changes to the country's constitution and legal documents, including systemic removal of references to communism in favor of Juche,[6] the constitution is still stated to be socialist in nature[2] and the description of the flag has always remained the same.[7]

The website of the Korean Friendship Association indicates that, on the contrary, the red star represents revolutionary traditions and the red panel is indicative of the patriotism and determination of the Korean people. The white stripes symbolize the unity of the Korean nation and its culture. The blue stripes represent the desire to fight for independence, peace, friendship, and international unity.[5][8]

According to a typical North Korean official text published in Rodong Sinmun,[9] Kim Il Sung gave the following significance to the flag's elements:

The red of the flag symbolises anti-Japanese sentiment, and is the colour of blood shed by the Korean patriots and the invincible might of our people firmly united to support the Republic. The white symbolizes one bloodline, one land, one language, one culture of our monoethnic country, which lived in purity. And blue stands for the gallant visage of our people and symbolises the spirit of the Korean people fighting for world peace and progress.[9]

The colours of the North Korean flag – red, white, and blue – are considered national colours and symbolize respectively: revolutionary traditions; purity, strength, and dignity; and sovereignty, peace, and friendship.[10]


According to Korea expert and scholar Brian Reynolds Myers in 2018, in North Korea the flag of the Workers' Party of Korea and the Korean People's Army Supreme Commander's personal standard are treated with more reverence than the North Korean national flag, with the Supreme Commander's flag ranking highest among the three in terms of reverence.[11]


A portrait of Kim Il Sung and the Taegukgi in 1948.


In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Korean Peninsula was ruled by a monarchy known as the Korean Empire. During this time, the Korean monarchy used a flag now known as the Taegukgi as its national flag. It featured a yin-yang symbol surrounded by four trigrams. The Taegukgi flag remained as the symbol of Korea after Imperial Japan occupied and annexed the Korean Peninsula in 1910.[9]

In 1945, World War II ended with an Allied victory and Japan was defeated. Per Allied terms, Japan relinquished its control over the Korean Peninsula, with the Soviet Union occupying the northern half of Korea and the U.S. occupying the southern half of it.[9]

Flag used by the People's Committee of North Korea and its provisional predecessor between 1946 and 1948
Flag used by the United States Army Military Government in Korea between 1945 and 1948

Between 1946 and 1948, North and South Korea used very similar flags, with the Taegukgi design.[9]


In 1947 the Soviets communicated via Major General Nikolai Georgiyevich Lebedev to discuss whether the Taegukgi flag should be kept for newly founded North Korea. Vice Chairman of the Provisional People's Committee for North Korea Kim Tu-bong was in favor of keeping the Taegukgi. However, for Lebedev, the concept of Chinese philosophy, which the design of the Taegukgi is based on, appear to him as medieval superstition, so he wanted to change to a new flag. Tu-bong yielded and a few months later the design for the new flag was dictated from Moscow, although it is not known who the Soviet official was that designed the flag. Before its formal adoption, the flag remained in official use.[9][12]

The world's sixth tallest flagpole – at 160 m (525 ft) – flying a 270 kg (595 lb) flag of North Korea over Kijŏng-dong ("Peace village") near Panmunjom in the Korean Demilitarized Zone

The design of the flag was disclosed, along with a draft constitution, on 1 May 1948.[13] The design of the flag was firstly sketched by painter Kim Ju-gyŏng in May 1947, who served as the headmaster of the Pyongyang Academy of Fine Arts (now Pyongyang University of Fine Arts) at the time. The initial design featured a white disk in the middle, in February 1948 Kim Il Sung suggested to move the white disk towards hoist, and add a red five-pointed star in it, the aspect ratio was also changed from 2:3 to 1:2.[14][15][16][17] On 10 July 1948 the new flag was approved by the provisional People's Assembly of North Korea. The following month Tu-bong, who formerly supported the traditional design, wrote a reasoned text On the Establishing of the New National Flag and the Abolition of Taegukgi. Thereby he explained the decision to adopt a new flag against the wishes of those who favored the old one. In terms of North Korean official texts, Tu-bong's account is unequivocally frank in acknowledging dissenting public opinion. In 1957, Kim Tu-bong was purged by Kim Il Sung who by that time had erected a cult of personality. Any mention of the use of Taegukgi was removed from texts and it was doctored out of photographs on the orders of Il-sung who sought to monopolize North Korean history to serve him and his regime. Contemporary official North Korean accounts now posit that the new flag of North Korea as personally designed by Il-sung.[9]

Use in propaganda

A 270-kilogram (600 lb) North Korean national flag flies from a tall flagpole, which is located at Kijŏng-dong, on the North Korean side of the Military Demarcation Line within the Korean Demilitarized Zone. The flag-pole is 160 meters (520 feet) tall.[18]

Historical and other flags

Further information: List of North Korean flags

There are several other known flags to be in use in North Korea by its regime. There are flags for the Korean People's Army (KPA), and its two subdivisions the Korean People's Air Force and Korean People's Navy, which follow a common design but with different colors (blue and white for the North Korean navy and dark blue and light blue for the North Korean air force). There is also a flag of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea that is modeled on similar communist party flags, and a flag for the Supreme Commander of the KPA used by Kim Jong Un, which has the Supreme Commander's arms on a red field. KPA Guards units use the same common design but with the national arms in the center of the obverse field.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ 北朝鮮国旗や国旗デザイン関連グッズ販売は違法? 英国旗との共通点. KoreaWorldTimes (in Japanese). 28 October 2020. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Chapter VII, Article 170" (PDF). Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House. 2014. ISBN 978-9946-0-1099-1. Amended and supplemented on April 1, Juche 102 (2013), at the Seventh Session of the Twelfth Supreme People's Assembly.
  3. ^ Rutherford, Peter (12 September 2014). "Seoul reminds citizens of North Korea flag ban". Reuters. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  4. ^ "South Korea Makes Olympic Exception for North Korean Flag". Archived from the original on 23 June 2018. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  5. ^ a b "North Korean Flag". Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 2016-08-10.
  6. ^ "DPRK has quietly amended its Constitution". Leonid Petrov's KOREA VISION. 11 October 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  7. ^ Tertitskiy 2016, p. 270.
  8. ^ "Flag and emblem". Archived from the original on 30 January 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Tertitskiy, Fyodor (20 June 2014). "Kim Tu Bong and the Flag of Great Extremes". Daily NK. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  10. ^ "Korea, North". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  11. ^ Myers, Brian Reynolds (7 February 2018). "On the February 8 Parade and the Olympics". Sthele Press. Retrieved 9 February 2018. 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, in whose iconography the banner of the DPRK ranks lower than the party standard, which in turn ranks much lower than the Supreme Commander's standard, the flag of the personality cult — something to which the North Korean athletes may end up paying homage anyway by wearing their leader badges.
  12. ^ Jeffries, Ian. North Korea: A Guide to Economic and Political Developments.
  13. ^ Pringsheim, Klaus H. (1967). "North Korea Under the Hammer and Sickle: A Non-Marxist view". In Shaffer, Harry G. (ed.). The Communist World: Marxist and Non-Marxist Views. New York: Ardent Media. p. 439. OCLC 228608.
  14. ^ "북한미술산책 : 북한의 국장과 국기를 도안한 월북 미술가 김주경". 경향신문 [Gyeonghyang News]. 2 July 2019. Retrieved 24 August 2022.
  15. ^ Choe Jong-go (1999). 남북한(南北韓)의 국가상징(國家象徵)과 법(法) (PDF). Seoul University.
  16. ^ Tertitskiy, Fyodor (23 September 2014). "The Evolution of North Korea's Coat of Arms". Daily NK. Archived from the original on 25 September 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  17. ^ "국기(인공기) - 인공기 제정과정". NK Choson. 30 October 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2023.
  18. ^ Potts, Rolf (3 February 1999). "Korea's No-Man's-Land". Salon.
  19. ^ a b Kariyasu, Nozomi (2011). "The History of Taegeuk Flags" (PDF). In Takano, Miru; Harden, Zachary (eds.). Official Proceedings: The Twenty-Third International Congress of Vexillology. Tokyo: Japanese Vexillological Association.

Works cited

Further reading