Does Marvel’s Newest Superhero ‘Taegukgi’ Miss the Mark?

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.

Credit: Yahoo

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.

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.

Captain America uniform | Marvel Database

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.

Taegukgi Symbolism

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:

1882 Edition of the Flag | Wikipedia
  • 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.

National flag at 1948 Inauguration | Wikipedia

Subscribe to FIB’s Weekly Alchemy Report for your weekly dose of music, fashion and pop culture news!