The Phoenix is a popular icon in Asian mythology, just as it is in Europe. The Western image of the fantastical bird rising from the ashes of its own corpse is a powerful symbol of rebirth – the growth of the new from the old. In Korea, the bird is known as Bonghwang 봉황, the Korean pronunciation of the Chinese fenghuang, and has a different meaning. In Asia, the Phoenix is often seen in partnership with the Dragon, sometimes taking gender roles, with the role similar to the Western Phoenix filled by a different creature called Bulsajo 불사조 (不死鳥), or “immortal bird”.
The Korean Phoenix has a long history in this ancient culture, reaching right up to modern times. The Phoenix Throne has been the term used to describe the rulers of the Joseon Dynasty since 1392, and it carried on that role with the formation of the Empire of Korea in 1897, although that ended quickly when the country was occupied by Japan in 1910. The origins of its use extend considerably further than that, however, with cave paintings in Korea featuring the myth dating back over 1,000 years before the formation of the Josean Dynasty.
Today, the Phoenix, actually a pair of them, appears on the Korean Presidential Emblem and the Presidential Standard, so the choice of this mythical bird for a Korean bullion round is certainly an appropriate one for KOMSCO, especially as it’s the first one they’ve released specifically designed for the investment, rather than the collectors market.