Marvel revealed brand new South Korean superhero ‘Taegukgi’ in the Taskmaster comics but this has some fans saying the concept and costume design is underwhelming at best.
The mega-franchise Marvel has announced a superhero rival to the villain Taskmaster in the third issue of his eponymous comic. All we know so far is that Taskmaster travels to Korea to clear his name following the death of Maria Hill. This is where we are introduced to Taegukgi.
So far it is unknown what his superpowers are. And the teaser for the new character has people buzzing–but not necessarily in a good way. Taegukgi is named after the Korean flag and his costume is exactly that: the flag.
At first glance, many people have said he looks like ‘Pepsi man’ (thanks to the blue and red dualist symbol) and some feel this this detracts from the character and is unoriginal, especially considering the resources behind a company like Marvel.
— 민이님 (@Jasminejj) February 8, 2021
But Taegukgi? Just from his costume and name, everything about him has got to be an amalgamation of every cliched Korean characteristic. It's lazy as hell, and the more I think about it, the more it pisses me off. As a Korean, thanks, but no thanks.
— John Lee (@koreanforeigner) February 8, 2021
Taegukgi is meant to be some sort of South Korean equivalent to the renowned and revered Captain America, who admittedly doesn’t have the most original of names either. However, the straightforwardness of Captain America’s patriotic character is explained by his original purpose of fighting for the nation against the Axis of powers during World War II.
His costume is also a very clear evocation of the American flag, but is not an exact screen print. It at least shows some level of the design process needed to reimagine the flag. To compare, Captain America could’ve been called ‘Stars and Stripes man’, ‘Star-Spangled man’ or just ‘American flag’ and his costume would be…the literal American flag.
desperately need to know if any actual korean people were involved in the making of this lol like on the one hand sure i can imagine a hero called "american flag" ("taegukgi" literally = the flag of south korea) but on the other hand this still sucks https://t.co/rCAvts4sQw
— karen han (@karenyhan) February 8, 2021
In all fairness, it is unclear what the context behind Taegukgi is yet so there may be an appropriate reasoning behind the literal nature of his character. It’s also still exciting to have a brand-new character, let alone a South Korean one. While we wait for more information about his background and powers, here is information about the symbolism of the Taegukgi:
- The flag consists of a red and blue ‘taeguk’ on a white background with four trigrams in each corner, and the ‘taeguk’ symbol is where the flag derives its name.
- The ‘taeguk’ is a traditional symbol seen in Korean Shamanism, Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism (think Yin and Yang), representing cosmic balance, harmony and duality. In the case of the Korean flag, the red represents the positive force, and the blue represents the negative.
- The trigrams in each corner also symbolise harmony and movement as fundamental principles and elements:
- In the top left is geon, representing: heaven, Spring, East, humanity, father and justice.
- Top right is gam, representing: the moon, Winter, North, intelligence, son, water and wisdom.
- Bottom right is gon, representing: earth, Summer, West, courtesy, mother and vitality.
- Bottom left is ri, representing: sun, Autumn, South, righteousness, daughter, fire and fruition.
The symbolism behind the flag can be traced back to the Joseon dynasty (est. 1392) and the first known use of the flag was in 1882. After years of unrest largely due to Japanese colonisation and occupation of Korea, it became the official flag of South Korea once it gained independence in 1948.
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