Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Korean National Flower 무궁화

The national flower of South Korea is the Rose of Sharon (official name: Hibiscus Syriacus). The Korean name of the flower is called 무궁화 (mu-gung-hwa; Hanja: 無窮花), where 무궁 means "immortal, eternal, everlasting" and 화 means "flower"*.

Source: wikipedia

Koreans have loved 무궁화 for centuries. According to record, Korean have treasured 무궁화 as a heavenly flower since ancient times. It is also mentioned in the Korean national anthem 애국가 (ae-guk-ga; Hanja: 愛國歌).

There are around 100 variaties indigenous to Korea, include flowers of single, semi-double and double types. Of those, 단심 (dan-sim, single type flower with red centre) was chosen by the Korean government as the national flower in 1990.

Several variaties of 단심

무궁화 blossom from July to October, closing every evening and bursting back into flower as the sun rises. They are very hardy and can withstand both blight (transplanted or cut for flower arrangements) and insects.

Thus, this flower that "never withers" is ideal in representing Korean people's wish for ever lasting national development and prosperity.

(*) 화 "flower" in 무궁화 is of Chinese origin 花 (as in Hanja 無窮), I guess it is a carry over from the days where Hanja is more commonly used. The native Korean for "flower" is actually (kkot), few examples:

꽃꽂이 flower arrangement
꽃다발 bunch of flowers
꽃미남 pretty boy, literal meaning "flower beautiful male"

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