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  • Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST).
  • Arirang is the most famous folk song of Korea. In fact, the song is so well-known that it is often described as the unofficial anthem. Yet, despite its popularity, no one seems to sure about what “Arirang” means or even exactly when or where the song first came to be. Arirang is by any measure a unique and integral part of the Korean cultural patrimony. One reason why it is so popular is that it seems to be an expression of “pure” Korean culture. Arirang is an ancient native Korean word with no direct modern meaning. But it is the name of a Korean mountain pass.

    Arirang is a popular form of Korean folk song and the outcome of collective contributions made by ordinary Koreans throughout generations. At first, it was the song of ladies who had to send their husband somewhere. But it became a popular song when Korea was ruled as a colony by Japan in the early 20th century.

    Experts estimate the total number of folk songs carrying the title ‘Arirang’ at some 3,600 variations belonging to about sixty versions. A great virtue of Arirang is its respect for human creativity, freedom of expression and empathy. Everyone can create new lyrics, adding to the song’s regional, historical and genre variations, and cultural diversity. Arirang is universally sung and enjoyed by the Korean nation. At the same time, an array of practitioners of regional versions, including local communities, private groups and individuals, actively lead efforts for its popularization and transmission, highlighting the general and local characteristics of individual versions. Arirang is also a popular subject and motif in diverse arts and media, including cinema, musicals, drama, dance and literature. It is an evocative hymn with the power to enhance communication and unity among the Korean people, whether at home or abroad.




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    Page last modified: 21-10-2021 19:07:40 ZULU