‘One apple and two bananas’; ‘One red apple and two yellow bananas’. Which one sounds more delicious? Why do people feel wonder at blue roses and feel eager to see a pink whale? What will happen if the water color turns brown? We are surrounded by numerous colors and have gotten used to them. Now it’s time to look deeply into colors!
● Five Colors of Korea
Let’s first look at the colors of our tradition. Although most Koreans don’t know what the five colors imply accurately, they are familiar with those colors. There are so many relations between Korean tradition and the five colors that we have taken for granted.
Do you wonder how many other examples there are related to the five colors?
As you know, the five colors refer to Korea’s traditional colors: Yellow, Blue, White, Red, and Black, which are based on Yin-Yang and the Five Elements theory.
When it comes to Yin-Yang theory, it means all of the phenomena of the universe and humanity are decided by Yin and Yang’s expanding and extinction. Plus, the five elements theory means all things of the universe are created and go out of existence from Wood, Fire, Earth, Gold, and Water.
The five colors are considered pure and unadulterated, so Korean ancestors made brides wear red rouge on the cheeks and the forehead to drive evil spirits out. Also, they prayed for children’s good health and long life by letting them dress up in rainbow-colored Hanboks on holidays.
Now lets’ go back to the five colors. It will be helpful to understand if you read the article while referring to the pictures. As you can see in the picture, there is yellow at the center, black at the north, white at the west, blue at the east, and red at the south. White at the west is connected to gold and implies innocence, truth, life and purity, so we Koreans traditionally have preferred to wear white clothes. The meaning of the white clad-folk originated from this. Next, yellow implies earth and is considered honorably as the center of the universe, so yellow is used to make the clothes of the King. Blue implies trees and means the color of spring, defeating evil and wishing luck. As you can associate red with implying fire, it means creation, formation, passion and affection, and initiative. Finally, black is connected to water and is considered to take charge of wisdom.
We can see that these five colors have been used in various traditional assets such as dancheong in the palace and temple, patchwork wrapping-cloth, garnish on noodles, red clay houses and red amulet. These five colors are inherent and traditional colors that cannot be separated from Korea even now.
● History and Story of Color
Why don’t we take a look at some stories about colors? It will be the red color that comes to your mind when you think of history. That is because red has been recognized as a color related to history, policy, and revolution. We’ve researched out some people related to red in history.
First of all, there was Gwak Jae-u, called ‘general in red’ in Korea. He was a general at the time of the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592. He used to wear red clothes in every battle. Everybody knows that he was the general who made the war end in a victory for Korea.
A person in red also existed in Italy. He was Garibaldi of the ‘Red Shirts’. At that time, Italy was divided into many countries like Kingdom of Sardinia and Kingdom of Naples. Garibaldi, who aimed for republicanism, organized a group of people with red shirts and contributed to uniting Italy at the end of the 19th century. Even now, he is respected in his position as a hero by Italians.
How about looking at the history of the white color? Have you heard of the ‘White Rose’? That was a group of non-violent protesters organized by students in Munich University and their professors against the despotism of the Nazis. Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie Scholl were leaders of the group. They used the word ‘White Rose’ as the title of their leaflets, and this name came from a Spanish novel. Unfortunately, all members of the group were killed after they were discovered by a janitor while handing out the leaflets to passers-by in school.
Let’s take a look at the color purple. Ancient clerics and early Christians wore purple clothes. In addition, gods from Greek mythology wore the same color clothes and King Solomon’s carriage’s color was purple, too.
Why did they like purple? Purple symbolizes an emperor. This came from soldiers who came back after winning the war with purple capes. Therefore, purple is well known for clothes of kings and nobles. A reason why purple was used to make clothes for people in high places is because it was difficult to extract the dye. Purple dye is made from the clear body fluid of a snail, and the fact that people got just 1.4g of this dye from 200 snails is on record.
Another reason why purple symbolizes authority is that it is a neutral color. Purple is a neutral color between blue meaning heaven and red meaning blood of a person. That is, Purple implies an image of a man of dignity who delivers God’s words to the people.
Here is a lighter example. The 1990s in Korea were the days of the first generation idols.H.O.T. and Sechskies were two prominent groups on the stage, and their fans represented their groups with color. On their seats, H.O.T.’s fans waved white balloons and Sechskies’s fans waved yellow ones so that anyone could find out whether someone was on their side or not. Even now, fans of a group or figure have their own color. It makes them unified with other fans of the same idols they love. The history of color will go forward with these balloons’ colors.
● Color with Psychology
Color can not only be used to make the world colorful, but also be related to human psychology. People can feel comfortable or uneasy through color. Also, it can make consumers buy something or even get hungry. People often doubt if it can happen, but it’s definitely true in our lives.
Red generally means ‘physical’, and it’s the most powerful color among the spectrum. Positive meanings involved in it are courage, strength, warmth, energy, stimulation, and excitement. Red has a tendency to be outstanding because of its intensity, such as a red sign or a traffic light. However, at the same time, it has negative meanings in being demanding or aggressive. In emotional aspects, we can recall love, romance, comfort, and warmth. Red also can be found in marketing, especially in clearance sales, as it stimulates urgency by increasing breath and heartbeats. For the color red to indicate intensity is common, so wearing red increases the possibility of failing negotiation, agreement, or consultation. The red car is a main target for thieves, too. The color is used for emphasis in decoration or makeup and has the attraction of catching one’s eye in furniture arrangement.
Green recalls in us a tree, meadow, forest and fresh breeze, sogreen means balance, harmony, rest, refreshment, equivalence, and peace. Scientifically, it is in the center of the spectrum, surprisingly. It is the “hottest” color in decoration these days, and matches with dark blue well. Brides in the Middle Ages wore green dresses, wishing for fertility. Because green is the color of calm and refreshment, it is used for the purpose of making patients stable in the hospital. Besides, it is the most efficient color to improve your sight, like a school board. Green is also associated with wealth, and it has the role of relaxing customers in stores. Lastly, the color green is also considered as boredom, stagnation, and enervation of the negative.
When we think of yellow, it brings refreshment, brightness, and cuteness, because we are likely to feel that yellow makes people lively. In fact, yellow has the meaning of optimism, self-esteem, friendliness, warmth, and creativity. It’s the most powerful color in psychology, so when people or babies are in a yellow room, they can have a hot temper, and babies can cry more than usual. Yellow has a negative influence on the eyes and is for legal uses due to its intensity. It will raise metabolism and catch window shoppers’ hesitating glimpses. In psychological therapy, a yellow color stimulates nerves and purifies one’s body. However, it includes implications of suicide, irrationality, fear, and anxiety.
First, this color is often described as purple. Second, the elderly tend to prefer violet more than the young. That’s why violet meansstability, gentleness, and luxury. Actually, it includes luxury, quality, authenticity, prevention, and containment. It is also the most feminine and romantic; however, it can appear artificial as it’s rare in nature. Violet is considered the color of the widow. In terms of shopping, we can find it easily in beauty shops or cosmetic stores, and it’s used widely for anti-aging products. Violet can relax the mind and body. Violet was also the “it” color once. If we pair it with black, ironically, it can be stunning for a bright, eye-opening look. In contrast to this, if we do it with white, it can be romantic. By extension, violet represents not only exotic nature, sophistication, mystery, and wisdom, but also introversion, decadence, suppression, and inferiority.
Black is an amazing color which can match any clothes, anything, and any time. This black indicates security, glamour, and efficiency, and it implies being confidential and veiled.It can absorb the light of every color due to the nature of light, so it means absolute power. For instance, you would remember that evil beings appearing in dramas or movies usually wear black clothes and black accessories such as black suits, black sunglasses, and black hats. Of course, they took them in order to symbolize evil or absolute authority, but ultimately, it is a stylish color which makes people thinner and taller. In other words, black is a splendid color for fashion. Therefore, products of limited edition or premium class are applied with black colors in marketing with its strong and sleek characteristic. However, black can represent death, threat, frigidness, grief, and heaviness, and that’s why we usually go to funerals in black.
White, as you know, means hygienic, clean, pure and simple. As white reflects all colors, people usually wear white clothes in summer. In China, it indicates grief, in contrast with popular notions. In Japan, a white carnation means death. To keep hygienic, doctors put on white gowns, use white gauze and white bed sheets. Brides wear white dresses, which symbolize innocence. The color is widely used in fashion with its harmonious characteristic, but there’s one flaw: that a spot of dirt can be easily seen on a white background. People who like white colors generally pursue hope or perfection to lose nothing even including mental things. If you answered white to the question “which color do you like?”, you would be the one who seeks perfection.
● Colors of CBNU
The main colors for CBNU are blue, sky-blue and wine.These colors are applied consistently to every school emblem, logo, promotion, etc., to make highly attractive visual-effects. Also, sliver, gold, grass-green, bottle-green and grey colors are used as assistance colors.
Up until now, we’ve all looked at some colors and their meanings. Colors we missed in our lives turn out to be interesting and sometimes mysterious. A man in the movie ‘Siam Sunset’ took a far journey to find a new color that he has never seen while he was working at a paint company and finally fell in love with a girl he met at the end of the journey. Like him, can we get something else if we search for a new color around us?