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Manoa 14.2 (2002-2003) 34
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Mugunghwa (Rose of Sharon)
[East Goes West]
The Rose of Sharon has been regarded by Koreans as a heavenly flower since ancient times. The ancient Chinese referred to Korea as "The land of gentlemen where mugunghwa blooms," and in the seventh century, the Silla Kingdom called itself Mugunghwa Country. In the late nineteenth century, Korea's love for the flower and identification with it increased when the line "Mugunghwa samch'olli hwaryo kangsan" ("Rose of Sharon, thousand miles of beautiful mountain and river land") was written into the unofficial national anthem. At the start of the twentieth century, Korean immigrants transplanting themselves to America hoped their new home would be a utopian land—what they called a garden of mugunghwa. After Korea was liberated from Japan in 1945, the mugunghwa was adopted as the national flower. The root of the word means "immortal" or "eternal" in Korean.