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English: The Patriotic Song
Anthem of North Korea sheet music.svg
Sheet music atop North Korean state emblem

National anthem of  North Korea
Also known as(English: Song of a Devotion to a Country)
LyricsPak Se-yong, 1946[1]
MusicKim Won-gyun, 1945[1]
Audio sample
"Aegukka" (instrumental, one verse)
Revised RomanizationAegukga

"Aegukka" (Chosŏn'gŭl: 애국가, lit. "Patriotism Song") officially translated as the "Patriotic Song"[2] is the national anthem of North Korea. It was composed in 1945 as a patriotic song celebrating independence from Imperial Japanese occupation and was adopted as the state anthem in 1947.


"Aegukka" is a Romanized transliteration of "The Patriotic Song"; the song is also known by its incipit Ach'imŭn pinnara or "Let Morning Shine"[3][1] or alternatively as the "Song of a Devotion to a Country".

The Encyclopedia of Korean Culture defines "Aegukka" as "the song to wake up the mind to love the country". "Aegukka" in itself is differentiated from a national anthem. While a national anthem or gukka (lit. country song) is an official symbol of the state, aegukka 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 "Aegukka" plays the role of symbolizing the country.[4][5] In general shorthand, the term aegukka refers to the national anthem of North Korea.[6][4]


Originally, the Korean exile government (1919–1945) in Shanghai, China adopted as their national anthem "Aegukga" (which has the same name with a different Romanization) to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne". After World War II, South Korea kept the words, put to a new tune (changed from "Auld Lang Syne"), while North Korea adopted this newly written piece in 1947.[3] The words were written by Pak Se Yong and the music was composed by Kim Won Gyun.[1]

In the early 1980s, Kim Jong Il sought to reduce the song's importance to the benefit of "Song of General Kim Il Sung".[7]

On official occasions, when only the first verse is performed, it is customary to repeat the last four bars. However, if both verses are performed, it is the last four bars of the second verse that are repeated instead.[8][9]

"Song of General Kim Il Sung" and "Song of General Kim Jong Il" have since taken the place of de facto national anthems domestically, and "Aegukka" is reserved for representing North Korea internationally: when foreign dignitaries visit the country or North Korean athletes compete at international sporting competitions.[10] Compared to other nations, the North Korean national anthem is not often performed inside the country (except for radio and television sign-off) and thus many North Koreans do not know the lyrics.[10]

"Aegukka" is almost unique among most North Korean patriotic songs, as it praises neither the Workers' Party of Korea, nor the Kim dynasty, but rather the whole of Korea itself.

"Aegukka" is played at the start of each of Korean Central Television's broadcast days.[11]


Chosŏn'gŭl McCune-Reischauer romanization Literal translation Poetic translation
First verse
아침은 빛나라 이 강산 Ach'imŭn pinnara i kangsan May the morning shine on the rivers and mountains of this land, Shine bright, you dawn, on this land so fair
은금에 자원도 가득한 Ŭn'gŭme chawŏndo kadŭkhan Packed with the wealth of silver and gold. So rich in silver and in gold you are
삼천리 아름다운 내 조국 Samch'ŏlli arŭmdaun nae choguk My beautiful homeland of three thousand Ri[a] The country of three thousand Ri
반만년 오랜 력사에 Panmannyŏn oraen ryŏksaë With a long history of five millennia. Five thousand years your history.
𝄆 찬란한 문화로 자라난 𝄆 Ch'allanhan munhwaro charanan 𝄆 Brought up in a brilliant culture 𝄆 Rich in cultural heritage
슬기론 인민의 이 영광 Sŭlgiron inminŭi i yŏnggwang The glory of a wise people Our people ever were renowned and sage
몸과 맘 다 바쳐 이 조선 Momgwa mam ta pach'yŏ i Chosŏn We devote our bodies and minds And as with heart and soul we strive
길이 받드세 𝄇[b] Kiri pattŭse 𝄇[b] To supporting this Korea forever. 𝄇[b] Korea shall forever thrive! 𝄇[b]
Second verse
백두산 기상을 다 안고 Paektusan kisangŭl ta anko Embracing the atmosphere of Mount Paektu, And in the spirit of Mount Paektu,
근로의 정신은 깃들어 Kŭlloŭi chŏngsinŭn kittŭrŏ Nest for the spirit of labor, With love of toil that shall never die,
진리로 뭉쳐진 억센 뜻 Chilliro mungch'yŏjin ŏksen ttŭt The firm will, allied with the truth, With will of iron fostered by the truth,
온 세계 앞서 나가리 On segye apsŏ nagari Will set forth before the whole world. We'll lead the whole world by and by.
𝄆 솟는 힘 노도도 내밀어 𝄆 Sonnŭn him nododo naemirŏ 𝄆 The nation, created by the will of the People, We have the might to foil the angry sea,
인민의 뜻으로 선 나라 Inminŭi ttŭsŭro sŏn nara Facing the furious waves with thunderous force. Our land more prosperous still shall be,
한없이 부강하는 이 조선 Hanŏpsi puganghanŭn i Chosŏn Let's glorify this Korea forever, As by the people's will we strive,
길이 빛내세 𝄇[c] Kiri pinnaese 𝄇[c] Infinitely rich and strong. 𝄇[c] Korea shall forever thrive!

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reference to Goguryeo's historical boundaries
  2. ^ a b c d Only when the first verse alone is performed.
  3. ^ a b c Only when both verses are performed.


  1. ^ a b c d Hoare, James E. (2012-07-13). Historical Dictionary of Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Scarecrow Press. p. 273. ISBN 9780810879874. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  2. ^ "National Anthem of the DPRK". DPRK Today. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b Agency, Central Intelligence (2015-01-01). "KOREA, NORTH". The World Factbook. Masterlab. ISBN 9788379912131.
  4. ^ a b "애국가". Academy of Korean Studies. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  5. ^ "애국가[愛國歌]". Doosan Coroporation. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  6. ^ "애국-가愛國歌". NAVER Corp. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  7. ^ Eddie Burdick (May 26, 2010). Three Days in the Hermit Kingdom: An American Visits North Korea. McFarland. p. 248. ISBN 978-0-7864-5653-6. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
  8. ^ BlueMarbleNations (27 October 2011). "North Korean National Anthem - "Aegukka" (KO/EN)" – via YouTube.
  9. ^ Military Parade Music (4 September 2015). "Military Music - North Korean National Anthem - "Aegukka"" – via YouTube.
  10. ^ a b Lankov, Andrei (April 24, 2007). North of the DMZ: Essays on Daily Life in North Korea. McFarland. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-7864-5141-8. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  11. ^

Further reading[edit]

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