Wednesday, July 11, 2007

무궁화 꽃이 피었습니다

A ride on Mugunghwaho (무궁화호-無窮花號) train set me asking what is "mugunghwa"? A check on the internet gave "mugunghwa" as Hibiscus syriacus or its common name "Rose of Sharon". Mugunghwa is the national flower of the Republic of Korea and is worded into its national anthem. "Mugung" means endless or unlimited. It is said that the flower represents the enduring nature of the Korean culture and the perseverance of Korean people.

Though Malaysia's national flower is also called hibiscus, it is of a different species. Its scientific name is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis or commonly known as "Bunga Raya" or the Chinese hibiscus.

My teacher introduced me to a once bestselling Korean novel called "무궁화 꽃이 피었습니다" (The Rose of Sharon has bloomed) written by 김진명 (Kim Jin Myeong). In this science-fiction novel, the North and South Korea are not enemies. The actual enemy is in fact Japan. The nuclear weapons, being developed by the North Korea, are made up to be a conspiracy between the two Koreas. The codeword for the nuclear weapon is call "무궁화 꽃". In the near future, a war finally erupted between the Korean peninsula and the Japan over the sovereignty of Dokdo (독도-獨島). Japan tried to invade the peninsula but the Koreans fought back and eventually nuked Japan, forcing it to surrender. My teacher said that this novel is popular among the Koreans because it creates a strong sense of patriotism.

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