Passive-aggressive Canadian flag “battles”

The Economist ran an article on the slighting of Canada’s flag’s 50th anniversary by the current Conservative government — which is otherwise quite gung-ho about promoting (even creating) Canadian nationalism. The five-decade-old flag replaced British imperial/monarchical motifs.

For non-Canadians, the passive-aggressive bickering over Canadian nationalism, history, and symbols is fairly amusing. Excerpt from the piece:

Mr Harper’s government has been reinforcing ties with Britain. He reinstated the word “royal” for the navy and the air force, replaced Canadian artwork in the lobby of the foreign ministry with a portrait of the queen and agreed to share some embassies with Britain. Given his royalist inclinations, it would be tough for the prime minister to celebrate the flag whole-heartedly.

The Liberal Party, which supported the flag’s development and introduction in 1965, recently cobbled together an enthusiastic rally to celebrate the flag (and itself ahead of upcoming elections). The Conservatives stayed pretty quiet about the anniversary.


In praise of South Korea’s flag

The design of South Korea’s flag looks really modern and postwar to me, but in fact the core version was designed and finalized from 1882 to 1883 as the flag of Korea. It included all the current elements even then.

From: "Flags of Maritime Nations," 1882, US Navy via Wikimedia

From: “Flags of Maritime Nations,” 1882, US Navy via Wikimedia

The design was immediately revived in 1945 by locals as the ruling Japanese Empire surrendered to the Allies, and subsequently had only relatively small, stylistic revisions under US military rule in the south, and again in 1948 after independence. Exact color shades were officially set in 1997 but are roughly still the same as the 1883 colors. The 1948 design is the one in use today:


I think maybe the new ratios, angles, precision shapes, proportions, and distances are what make the original late-19th century version into a sort of modernist vibe.

This is the flag equivalent of the Futura typeface. Look at those incredibly precise spacings and lengths radiating across every element. And those exact angle alignments that match every part to every other part! It’s an elegant simplicity with no fluff. Yet they still manage to pack a tremendous amount of cultural symbolism into the flag’s five components. Bravo.