[EDITORIALS]Long may it waveWith the national frenzy about the World Cup come a series of positive signs that break excessive solemnity and taboos rampant in our society. The most salient feature of those signs is the Korean citizens' changing attitude toward the taegeukgi, or national flag, which has long been the symbol of national pride and self-esteem.
Throughout the tumultuous times of the nation's modern history, marked by the 1945 independence from Japan's colonial rule, the 1950-1953 Korean War, and the following authoritarian military dictatorship, the taegeukgi symbolized the nation's dazzling rise, reunification and prosperity despite the painful reality of iron-fist rules.
Since childhood we have been taught solemnly to love the national flag and keep it properly. On streets and in schools, the flag was the object of respect, hoisted at easily noticeable places. It was also a holy item that should be kept carefully in wardrobes when not in use.
While we should respect the national flag as citizens of this country, it is true that there was something that prevented people from feeling a sense of unity with the flag and treating it with comfort in daily lives.
In a pleasant and meaningful change, the taegeukgi has come into our everyday lives, as the World Cup matches have created a fad, prompting people to wear it as a hood, skirt or cape. Some people even paint the taegeukgi on their faces and decorate their bags with it.
As seen in Western societies, people like their national flags and use them in their lives because they are proud of the symbol.
Just as the cheering in the streets and the wearing of red T-shirts for soccer have broken various taboos in our society, including the red complex, the daily use of the taegeukgi signals a new way to love and feel attached to an object of respect. The flag is the creation of horizontal and democratic authority.
But people should remember that if they throw away the national flags like garbage after street cheering is over, they will disgrace the status of the new culture that Koreans have created and mar national pride.