The meaning of colors
Q. I saw a tall bank building in Seoul covered with green ribbons. I was told it was an art project, but what I noticed in Korea is that there is a lot of green in public spaces. Road signs, hospitals, banks and even trash cans are green. I was wondering what the reasons for this are. Does green have a special significance in Korea? In Western culture, colors sometimes take on certain meanings. Black is worn to funerals, for example to show mourning. People wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. What are some associations for certain colors in Korea that we foreigners should be aware of?
A.Colors are perceived differently in different cultures. Green in Korea symbolizes a fresh start, youth, new energy and more. To convey this image, many traditional institutions have changed their sign-boards in gold or black to a modern-looking symbol in green.
White also carries strong cultural undercurrents as Koreans used to wear white hanbok to represent patriotism. White also means purity and innocence, so despite the gradual changes in many cultures, it is unthinkable for a Korean bride to wear anything but white on her wedding day. White chrysanthemum, on the other hand, represents death. Black is also the color of death, although it is gaining ground in fashion as being chic or elegant.
Red in Korea is, unlike China, not a lucky color but the color of passion, and borders on social impropriety.