"Arirang" (아리랑; [a.ɾi.ɾaŋ]) is a Korean folk song, often considered the unofficial national anthem of Korea. There are about 3,600 variations of 60 different versions of the song, all of which include a refrain similar to, "Arirang, arirang, arariyo (아리랑, 아리랑, 아라리요)" It is estimated the song is more than 2,000 years old.
"Arirang" is included twice on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. South Korea successfully submitted the song for inclusion on the UNESCO list in 2012. North Korea also successfully submitted the song for inclusion in 2014. In 2015, the South Korean Cultural Heritage Administration added the song to its list of important intangible cultural assets.
It is believed that "Arirang" originated in Jeongseong, Gangwon Province. According to one legend, the name is derived from the story of a bachelor and a maiden who fell in love while picking camellia blossoms near the wharf at Auraji (아우라지). In one version of the story, the bachelor cannot cross the Auraji to meet the maiden because the water is too high, and they sing a song to express their sorrow. In another version of the story, the bachelor attempts to cross the Auraji and drowns, singing the sorrowful song after he dies.
Other theories on the origin of the name "Arirang" point to Lady Aryeong, wife of the first king of Silla; "arin," the Jurchen word for "hometown"; and a Chinese song named "Airang."
The first known recording of "Arirang" was made in 1896 by American ethnologist Alice C. Fletcher. Fletcher recorded three Korean students singing a song she called, "Love Song: Ar-ra-rang," in her home in Washington, D.C. One source suggests that the students belonged to noble Korean families and were studying abroad at Howard University during the period the recording was made. The recordings are currently housed in the U.S. Library of Congress.
During the Japanese occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945, "Arirang" became a resistance anthem against Imperial Japanese rule. Korean protesters sang "Arirang" during the March 1 Movement, a Korean demonstration against Japan in 1919. Many of the variations of "Arirang" that were written during the occupation contain themes of injustice, the plight of laborers, and guerrilla warfare.
The most well-known lyrics to "Arirang" first appeared in the 1926 silent film Arirang, directed by Na Woon-gyu. Arirang is now considered a lost film, but various accounts say the film was about a Korean student who became mentally ill after being imprisoned and tortured by the Japanese. The film was a hit upon its release and is considered the first Korean nationalist film.
Popularity in Japan
Japan experienced a craze for Korean culture in general and for "Arirang" in particular during its occupation of Korea. Over 50 Japanese versions of "Arirang" were released between 1931 and 1943, in genres including pop, jazz, and mambo.
All versions of "Arirang" include a refrain similar to, "Arirang, arirang, arariyo (아리랑, 아리랑, 아라리요)." The word "arirang" itself is nonsensical and does not have a precise meaning in Korean. While the other lyrics vary from version to version, the themes of sorrow, separation, reunion, and love appear in most versions.
The table below includes the lyrics of "Standard Arirang" from Seoul. The first two lines are the refrain. The refrain is followed by three verses.
- English translation
- 아리랑, 아리랑, 아라리요...
- 아리랑 고개로 넘어간다
- Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo...
- Arirang gogaero neomeoganda
- Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo...
- You are going over Arirang hill
- 나를 버리고 가시는 님은
- 십리도 못가서 발병난다.
- Nareul beorigo gashineun nimeun
- Shimrido motgaseo balbyeongnanda.
- My love, you are leaving me
- Your feet will be sore before you go ten li.
- 청천하늘엔 잔별도 많고
- 우리네 가슴엔 희망도 많다.
- Cheongcheonhaneuren janbyeoldo manko
- Uri ne gaseumen huimangdo manta.
- Just as there are many stars in the clear sky,
- There are also many dreams in our heart.
- 저기 저 산이 백두산이라지
- 동지 섣달에도 꽃만 핀다.
- Jeogi jeo sani Baekdusaniraji
- Dongji seotdaredo kkotman pinda.
- There, over there, that mountain is Baekdu Mountain,
- Where, even in the middle of winter days, flowers bloom.
There are an estimated 3,600 variations of 60 different versions of "Arirang." Titles of different versions of "Arirang" are usually prefixed by their place of origin.
While "Jeongseong Arirang" is generally considered to be the original version of the song, "Bonjo Arirang" (literally: Standard Arirang) from Seoul is probably the most famous version. This version was first made popular when it was used as the theme song of the influential 1926 film Arirang.
Other famous variations include "Jindo Arirang" from South Jeolla Province, a region known for being the birthplace of Korean folk music genres pansori and sinawi; and "Miryang Arirang" from South Gyeongsang Province.
Both South Korea and North Korea submitted "Arirang" to be included on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. South Korea successfully submitted the song for inclusion in 2012. North Korea successfully submitted the song for inclusion in 2014.
In 2015, the South Korean Cultural Heritage Administration added the "Arirang" to its list of important intangible cultural assets.
Arirang, Lyrics in English Adaptation-2 by GSIT at HUFS in 2013. Adaptation of W. B. Yeats
' poem, "The Falling of the Leaves," into the Arirang melody to convey the woe and sorrow with which Korean people sympathize when listening to the song.
The U.S. Army's 7th Infantry Division adopted "Arirang" as its official march song in May 1956, after receiving permission from Syngman Rhee, the first president of South Korea. The division had been stationed in Korea from 1950 to 1953, during the Korean War.
In popular culture
- American composer John Barnes Chance based his 1962-63 concert band composition Variations on a Korean Folk Song on a version of "Arirang" that he heard in Korea in the late 1950s.
- The tune of "Arirang" is used for the 1986 Christian hymn, "Christ, You Are the Fullness."
- The New York Philharmonic performed "Arirang" for an encore during its unprecedented trip to North Korea on February 26, 2008.
- In November 2013, the student choir at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies performed "Arirang" in English, Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Arabic and Korean.
- K-pop group BTS performed an "Arirang" medley at KCON France in June 2016.
- An October 2016 episode of South Korean TV music competition show Immortal Songs: Singing the Legend was an "Arirang" special, featuring famous musicians performing different variations of the song.
- Parts of "Arirang" are used in Kim Wu's stage theme, "The Dragon Spirit," in Killer Instinct.
- "Arirang" is the theme song for the Korean civilization in Civilization V and Civilization VI.
- Overwatch uses "Arirang" as background music on the title screen for their 2017 event celebrating Lunar New Year.
- ^ Literally translates to "I had parted with my lady". Founded in Why? Everyday Life and Conventions(Why? 의식주와 풍속)
- ^ a b c "N. Korea's Arirang wins UNESCO intangible heritage status". Yonhap News Agency. 2014-11-27. Retrieved 2017-12-05.
- ^ a b c d e "Arirang, lyrical folk song in the Republic of Korea". Intangible Cultural Heritage. UNESCO. Retrieved 2017-12-05.
- ^ a b c Chung, Ah-young (2012-12-12). "'Arirang' makes it to UNESCO heritage". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2017-12-05.
- ^ a b c "Arirang folk song in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea". Intangible Cultural Heritage. UNESCO. Retrieved 2017-12-05.
- ^ a b "'Arirang' Listed as National Intangible Asset". The Chosun Ilbo. 2015-07-15. Retrieved 2017-12-05.
- ^ The National Folk Museum of Korea (2014). Encyclopedia of Korean Folk Literature. Encyclopedia of Korean Folklore and Traditional Culture Vol. III. 길잡이미디어. pp. 95–96. ISBN 8928900840.
- ^ a b c d e "From lyrical folk song to cheering song: variations of 'Arirang' in Korean history". The Korea Times. Yonhap News Agency. 2012-12-06. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
- ^ Yoon, Min-sik (2017-09-27). "Oldest recorded Arirang to be on display in Seoul". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
- ^ Kim, Hyeh-won (2012-05-11). "Arirang under renewed light ahead of UNESCO application". Yonhap News Agency. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
- ^ Provine, Robert C. "Alice Fletcher's Notes on the Earliest Recordings of Korean Music" (PDF). The Academy of Korean Studies. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
- ^ "Alice C Fletcher collection of Korean cylinder recordings". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
- ^ a b c d Atkins, E. Taylor (August 2007). "The Dual Career of "Arirang": The Korean Resistance Anthem That Became a Japanese Pop Hit". The Journal of Asian Studies. 66 – via JSTOR.
- ^ Koehler, Robert (2015). Traditional Music: Sounds in Harmony with Nature. Volume 8 of Korea Essentials. Seoul Selection. ISBN 1624120423.
- ^ Edwards, Matthew (2014). Film Out of Bounds: Essays and Interviews on Non-Mainstream Cinema Worldwide. McFarland. p. 198. ISBN 147660780X.
- ^ Taylor-Jones, Kate (2017). Divine Work, Japanese Colonial Cinema and its Legacy. Bloomsbury USA. ISBN 1501306138.
- ^ "Arirang (아리랑)". Sejong Cultural Society. 2015. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
- ^ a b Kim Yoon, Keumsil; Williams, Bruce (2015). Two Lenses on the Korean Ethos: Key Cultural Concepts and Their Appearance in Cinema. McFarland. p. 39. ISBN 0786496827.
- ^ Damodaran, Ramu (Winter 2017). "UNAI Impacts Scholarship, Research for Greater Good". SangSaeng. APCEIU. 49: 23.
- ^ "Jindo Arirang". Sejong Cultural Society. 2015. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
- ^ "Milyang Arirang". Sejong Cultural Society. 2015. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
- ^ "Chronological History 7th Infantry Division". 7th Infantry Division Association. 2012-05-25. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
- ^ "Christ, You Are the Fullness". Hymnary. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
- ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (2008-02-27). "North Koreans Welcome Symphonic Diplomacy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
- ^ Lee, Claire (2013-11-19). "HUFS to hold concert featuring 'Arirang' in 10 languages". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
- ^ Mnet K-POP (2016-06-14), [KCON 2016 France×M COUNTDOWN] Opening Performance _ Arirang Medley(아리랑 연곡) M COUNTDOWN 160614 EP.47, retrieved 2017-12-08
- ^ KBS World TV (2016-10-29), Immortal Songs 2 | 불후의 명곡 2: "Arirang" special [ENG/2016.10.29], retrieved 2017-12-08
- ^ Bradshaw, Peter (2012-06-07). "Arirang – review". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
- ^ "Arirang TV begins DTV service in metropolitan Washington, D.C., area". The Korea Times. Yonhap News Agency. 2011-04-28. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
- ^ "Arirang Radio to Go On Air in U.S". The Chosun Ilbo. 2012-01-11. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
- ^ DeHart, Jonathan (2013-07-29). "Pyongyang's Arirang Festival: Eye Candy for the Masses". The Diplomat. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
- ^ Ito, Makoto (2000-09-16). "Two Koreas make history during opening ceremony". The Japan Times Online. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
- ^ Hersh, Philip (2011-04-30). "Botched jumps cost Kim world title, Czisny the bronze". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2017-12-07.