Some news stories make readers scratch their heads and think, “Why?” or "How?"

This story, the mystery of the missing circle, may be one of those stories.

It all began Monday when Louis Medina, director of community impact at Kern Community Foundation, was taking a lunchtime walk at Jastro Park in downtown Bakersfield. As he neared the Korean War Memorial at the park he looked up at the three flags flying overhead.

What he saw was a big hole in the center of the flag of South Korea.

"It’s funny," Medina said in an email. "I happened to notice it because I was walking around the park for exercise during my lunch break yesterday. Doubt I would have noticed it if I had been driving."

The center of the flag of South Korea holds a circular symbol signifying balance and harmony. That circle was missing.

Medina posted a photo on Facebook, where some wondered if the red and blue yin-yang circle had been cut out, with the rest of the flag left untouched. One person suggested the circle symbol had been stitched in and had blown away in the wind.

But one thing is sure, Medina said.

“In remembrance of our South Korean allies in that war, the Korean flag in that monument should be replaced.”

In an amazing coincidence, nine students from Bucheon, South Korea — a Bakersfield sister city — spent the past week in Bakersfield.

But Paul Cha, who as a member of the Bakersfield Sister City Committee helped organize the students' itinerary during their visit, said the group did not visit the memorial at Jastro. The students departed for home on Tuesday.

It might have been a little embarrassing had the students visited the local site only to find a gaping hole in their national flag, said John Hefner, president of Bakersfield Sister City Project Corporation.

But a replacement flag is already on its way, he said, and is expected to be flying sometime Wednesday.

Dianne Hoover, director of the city's Recreation and Parks Department, confirmed.

"We believe that with the high winds lately, the stitching for the center circle containing the Yin-Yang symbol became unraveled, creating a perfect center hole in the flag," Hoover said.

It happened recently to a City of Bakersfield flag, she said. The center cornucopia symbol became unraveled, creating a perfect center hole.

"All the ropes to the flags at Jastro Park are located inside the poles, and the Korean War Veterans have the keys to those flags," Hoover said. "The veterans group has been notified and they are in the process of replacing all the flags at the memorial."

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

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