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The Tallest Flagpole

It is indeed the tallest flagpole with Tae-Geuk-Gi of South Korea, seen from the balcony of my house in Tae-Sung-Dong (TSD). Where else in Korea would one possibly need a more bombastic look?

It is famously known for being in the so-called flagpole war between North and South Korea, a height competition inside the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ). The story is simple as it is. In the 1970’s, South Korea firstly raised a 48-metre-tall flagpole in its propaganda village, TSD, and it soon became an eyesore for South’s counterpart who is, as you must know, notoriously captivated with their faulty hype about their beloved and proud regime. (To be honest, I don’t know which side was more stupid and meaninglessly energy-consuming. The fanatic North, or the pesky South who provoked such rivalry with them, intended or unintended.) So, the North raising a higher flagpole ignited a fiery height-increasing race that went on and on in turn, until the South gave up with their pole on its height of 99.8 metre. In that futile relay, the North went as far as raising theirs up to 165 metres tall. Even the size of the South Korean flag was 18 metres by 12 metres at that stage, the largest of all existing flags on the Southern portion of the peninsula until the the historically massive flag make its appearance during 2002 FIFA World Cup South Korea/Japan.

And, yes, of course. You can see the North Korean flagpole with their In-Gong-Gi (the name of North Korean flag in Korean) clearly from TSD just with the naked eye. On a windy day, you could also hear the two flags loudly flapping without many audiences to notice the sounds in both silent villages.

한국에서 가장 높은 것으로 알려진 대성동의 국기게양대입니다. 2002년 월드컵 당시 응원석에 또 다른 거대 태극기가 등장하기 전까지는 걸려있던 깃발도 국내에서는 최대 크기였죠.

선전경쟁이 치열했던 70년대, 대성동에 세워진 48미터 높이의 태극기를 꼴사나워 했던 북한이 자신들의 비무장지대 내 선전마을 기정동에 더 높은 국기게양대를 세우면서 남북간의 소리없는 국기전쟁이 시작되었습니다. 이 의미없는 경쟁 속에서 양측 국기게양대는 조금씩 조금씩 허공을 향해 올라갔고, 급기야 북한의 인공기가 자그마치 165미터까지 이르게 되자 대성동에서는 당시 최고 높이였던 99.8미터에서 그만 포기해버렸습니다. 모든 게 덧없는 짓이라는 걸 깨달으면서요. 어렵게 성사된 대화장에서도 사소한 겉치레들을 두고 격을 따지며 회의를 종종 결렬시켜 버리곤 하는 남북간의 소모적인 기싸움은 비무장지대에서도 다를 바 없었습니다.

지금도 바람이 심하게 부는 날 대성동에서는, 비무장지대 내 양쪽 마을에 우뚝 세워진 거대한 깃발들이 힘차게 펄럭이는 소리가 들려옵니다.

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