|English: Patriotic Song|
National anthem of South Korea
|Lyrics||Unknown author, [a] 1896|
|Music||Ahn Eak-tai, 1935|
"The Patriotic Song" (instrumental)
"Aegukga" (Korean: 애국가/愛國歌, lit. "Love Country Song"), often translated as "The Patriotic Song", is the national anthem of South Korea. It was adopted in 1948, the year the country was founded. Its music was composed in the 1930s and its lyrics date back to the 1890s. The lyrics of "Aegukga" were originally set to the music of the Scottish song "Auld Lang Syne" before Ahn Eak-tai composed a unique melody specifically for it in 1935. Before the founding of South Korea, the song's lyrics, set to the music of "Auld Lang Syne", was sung, as well as during Korea under Japanese rule by dissidents. The version set to the melody composed by Ahn Eak-tai was adopted as the national anthem of the Korean exile government, which existed during Korea's occupation by Japan from the early 1910s to the mid-1940s.
"Aegukga" has four verses, but on most occasions only the first one is sung when performed publicly at events such as baseball games and soccer matches.
The Encyclopedia of Korean Culture defines "Aegukga" as "the song to wake up the mind to love the country". "Aegukga" in itself is differentiated from a national anthem. While a national anthem or gukga is an official symbol of the state, aegukga refers to any song, official or unofficial, that contains patriotic fervor towards its country, such as Hungary's "Szózat" or the U.S. "The Stars and Stripes Forever". However, the nationally designated "Aegukga" plays the role of symbolizing the country. In general shorthand, the term aegukga refers to the national anthem of South Korea. Nevertheless, there are still more than ten other extant "Aegukgas" in South Korea.
In the 1890s, the previously established Joseon dynasty began to contact other countries for the first time, including the United States, United Kingdom, and Russia. The meeting with foreign countries gave rise to patriotism, which then created several "Aegugkas". For instance, works in 1896 includes "Aeguka" created by Na Pil-gun, Han Myung-one, and Lee Yong-mu. On November 21, 1896, scholars from the Pai Chai school sang a version of "Aegukga" in the independence door ceremony. However, this song differs from the song sung by the Military Academy in 1898 and from the songs sung on the birthday of the former emperor.
However, a book from the Korean Empire in 1900 has a record of a national anthem. It was called the "Korean Empire Aegukga", or literally the "Anthem of the Greater Korean Empire". The anthem is commonly believed to be written by Franz Eckert. Some people contend that records documenting Franz Eckert's actions show that it was physically impossible for him to write the anthem. It is guessed that the song sung by the Paejae school was the Scottish song "Auld Lang Syne" and that the song sung by the Military Academy is a version of the British song "God Save the Queen".
The song attributed to Eckert was established by the military in 1902. A version of Eckert's song with different lyrics began to be officially implemented in the schools in 1904. All the schools were forced to sing the version of the song. The policy is thought of as a by-product of the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905 and the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1907.
There are many theories concerning the writer of the currently official lyrics of "Aegukga". It is most commonly believed that the lyrics were written for the cornerstone-laying ceremony of the Independence Gate in Seoul in 1896 by Yun Chi-ho, a Korean politician. Later, Kim Gu during the Korean government-in-exile era, said to his comrades: "In the March 1st Movement, we had the Taegeukgi and the Aegukga. Why should who wrote it be an issue?" He wrote: "The lyrics and the anthem's spirit are more important than the nature of the lyricist." Other theories name the lyricist as An Chang-ho, Choi Byung-hun, Kim In-sik, Min Yeong-hwan, or some combination of the aforementioned writers. The "Committee to search for the composer of 'Aegukga'" was established in 1955 by the government on the request of the United States, but the committee concluded that there was not enough evidence to name a lyricist.
Initially, "Aegukga" was sung to the tune of the Scottish folk song "Auld Lang Syne", introduced to Korea by western missionaries. The Provisional Korean Government (1919–1945) in Shanghai, China adopted it as their national anthem. At a ceremony celebrating the founding of South Korea on 15 August 1948, the Scottish tune was finally replaced by the Finale of "Korea Fantasia", which Ahn Eak-tai had composed in 1935. The new "Aegukga" was later adopted by the Presidential Decree of 1948 by the then South Korean President Syngman Rhee (or Lee Seungman).
Since the composer Ahn Eak-tai died in 1965, the copyright for the music was to not expire until at least 2036. Two South Korean professional football clubs were sued by a copyright holders' group for playing this song in December 2003. However, on March 16, 2005, the composer's widow—Lolita Ahn—and her family relinquished all rights to "Aegukga" to the South Korean government. "Aegukga" has since become a public domain song.
The South Korean national anthem's lyrics have been criticized by some as being too focused on racial nationalism instead of civic republicanism, thus festering patriotism towards a "Korean race" rather than the South Korean state itself, possibly endangering South Korea's national security in the face of a North Korean military threat by festering sympathy for the North Korean regime.
동해물과 백두산이 마르고 닳도록
남산 위에 저 소나무 철갑을 두른 듯
가을 하늘 공활한데 높고 구름 없이
이 기상과 이 맘으로 충성을 다하여
東海물과 白頭山이 마르고 닳도록
南山 위에 저 소나무 鐵甲을 두른 듯
가을 하늘 空豁한데 높고 구름 없이
이 氣像과 이 맘으로 忠誠을 다하여
Donghaemulgwa baekdusani mareugo daltorok
Namsan wie jeo sonamu cheolgabeul dureun deut
Gaeul haneul gonghwalhande nopgo gureum eopsi
I gisanggwa i mameuro chungseongeul dahayeo
- English translation
- Hibiscus and three thousand ri full of splendid mountains and rivers;
- Great Koreans, to the Great Korean way, stay always true!
As the pine atop Namsan Peak stands firm, unchanged through wind and frost,
as if wrapped in armour, so shall our resilient spirit.
The autumn skies are void and vast, high and cloudless;
the bright moon is like our heart, undivided and true.
With this spirit and this mind, let us give all loyalty,
in suffering or joy, to love our nation.
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- Myers, Brian Reynolds (22 September 2011). "North Korea's state-loyalty advantage". Free Online Library. Archived from the original on 20 May 2018.
The national anthem conveys no republican ideals at all, referring only to the ancient race and homeland.