Yin Yang (side trail)


Jeong Seon, Geumgangjeondo, and the shape of taegeuk

This, again, comes from the ‘Special Lecture on Korean Painting’ of Oh Ju-seok; I paraphrase:
In the past Koreans considered time and space to be the same – space in terms of south, north, east and west and time in terms of the seasons. East is spring and morning, south – summer and day, west is fall, north is night. The five elements (water, fire, wood, metal, earth) correspond with colours, human emotions and taste: east is sour, south is bitter, west is spicy, north is salty and the centre is sweet. The elements depicted on the Korean flag are at the core of Korean food and the alphabet. In the alphabet, the vowels are composed of three components that stand for heaven, earth and man. The yin and yang (Eumyang) of heaven and earth are re-divided into four vowels that represent the four seasons. The consonants are composed of the Five Elements; their basic shapes represent the articulations of the tongue, palate, teeth and throat when they produce these sounds.
It sounds complicated but the alphabet is very easy to learn.
With this part I just want to express my admiration for such a well composed system in its totality, and especially for the beautifully designed Korean alphabet.


In symmetrical shapes, the left part is yin (eum) and the right is yang.
The subject of symmetry/asymmetry/mirror/reflection really interests me (see here on my website). This is worthy of another book.
I would like to find a Korean graphic designer or an artist with affinity for this subject to work with me on this.