Hongik Ingan (Korean홍익인간; Hanja弘益人間) is the unofficial national motto of South Korea. The phrase is English translated as "To broadly Benefit Humanity/Devotion to Human Welfare".[1]

Hongik Ingan
Revised RomanizationHongik ingan
McCune–ReischauerHongik in'gan

The phrase may also be translated as "Live and work for the benefit of all mankind."[2]

The Korean Spirit and Cultural Promotion Project's blog[3] describes Hongik Ingan as "the original founding philosophy of Korea, which transcends the boundaries of ideology and religion."

This philosophy is represented in the lives of Queen Seondeok, Shin Saimdang, and Shin Saimdang's son, Yi Yulgok, "who were all distinguished by their self-discipline, reverence, compassion and" devotion to duty in the face of hardships.[2]

Queen Seondeok of Silla, the first female monarch in Korean history ruled the Silla Kingdom from 632 to 647 C.E.[4]

Shin Saimdang lived from 1504 C.E. to c. 1551 C.E. She grew up on her maternal grandparents' house without male siblings, relatively free from the patriarchial order of the society. Saimdang was a courtesy name meaning "generosity". That Saimdang has a courtesy name—a privilege normally granted only to male aristocrats—is a tribute to her efforts to overcome the limitations that society placed on women.[5]

Yi Yulgok (1536 C.E. – 1584 C.E) was a son of Shin Saimdang. He was a prodigy who made a significant contribution to Confucian thought.[6]


  1. ^ "A New Way of Seeing Country Social Responsibility" (PDF). Faculty of Philosophy and Social-Political Sciences. Alexandru Ioan Cuza University: 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 16, 2014. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "The Practice of Hongik Ingan: Lives of Queen Seondeok, Shin Saimdang, and Yi Yulgok" by the Korean Spirit and Cultural Project, published by the Diamond Sutra Recitation Group, March 2011
  3. ^ "What is Hongik Ingan". koreaingan.wordpress.com. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  4. ^ ibid
  5. ^ ibid
  6. ^ ibid