While the circle represents dualism, the four trigrams at the corners of the flag (called "gwe" in Korean) represent the four points of the compass, the concept of opposites and balance, and the government. The book of I Ching (Book of Changes), called Yeok in Korean, illustrates 64 trigrams, but the four used on the flag represent the essence of the Dao philosophy of the complete circle of life. Western people are probably familiar with the concept of Karma, or "What goes around comes around." Both Dao and Confucianism thought the family was the center of society. The family, and ones role in the family, determine ones position and role in society.
The upper left and lower right trigrams on the flag are "heaven or father" and "earth or mother" They represent the head of the family. Without them, there is no family. Without the family, there is no society. The upper right and lower left trigrams are "water or daughter," and "fire or son." Together the four trigrams express the mysteries of the universe, and they also represent the family: father, mother, daughter, and son. Confucianism thought these four elements made the perfect family. A family with these four parts had perfect balance (eum-yang). The symbols are placed in a circle to represent the circle of life (the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth) and the continuing nature of the universe. South Koreans have many different interpretations the traditional symbols, the following are but a few of them.