The mugunghwa, or the rose of Sharon, is an object of deep affection. Meaning “eternal blossom that never fades,” it has been an important symbol of Korean culture for centuries.
Ancient records show that even before the Gojoseon era (ancient Korean kingdom), the mugungwha was treasured as a “blossom from heaven”. As further testimony of its cultural value, the Silla Kingdom (57 BC – AD 935) called itself Geunhwahyang, meaning Country of the Mugunghwa. The ancient Chinese, too, referred to Korea as the “land of wise men where the mugunghwa blooms.”
Over time, the public affection grew stronger when a phrase extolling the flower’s beauty was included in the national anthem in the late 19th century. Those words are “Mugunghwa samcheonli hwaryeogangsan (Three thousand ri* (equivalent to 1,200 kilometers, the length of the Korean Peninsula) of splendid rivers and mountains covered with mugunghwa blossoms)”. Even during the dark days of Japanese colonial rule, the people’s devotion to the flower never faded. Hence, it was only natural for the government to adopt it as the national flower after Korea regained its independence from Japan.
Koreans cherish the national flower because it honors the country’s noble spirit and symbolizes the many successes as well as tribulations that the nation has experienced. Mugunghwa varieties are grouped based on the colors of their blossoms. The groups are dansim, baedal, and asadal.
The flower is a symbol in the flags of government and national organizations, decorations, and badges.
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