National anthem of the Korean Empire

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"대한제국 애국가"
"大韓帝國 愛國歌"
English: "Korean Empire Aegukga"
"Daehan Jeguk Aegukga"
The Imperial Seal of Korea 03.png

National anthem of  Korean Empire
Also known as
English: "Anthem of the Korean Empire"
Lyrics Min Young Hwan, 1902[1]
Music Franz Eckert, 1902
Adopted 1902
Relinquished 1910
National anthem of the Korean Empire
Hangul 대한제국 애국가
Hanja 大韓帝國 愛國歌
Revised Romanization Daehan Jeguk Aegukga
McCune–Reischauer Taehan Cheguk Aegukka

The "Anthem of the Greater Korean Empire" (Hangul대한제국 애국가; Hanja大韓帝國 愛國歌; literally "Korean Empire Aegukga") was the anthem of the Korean Empire, used in the early 20th century. It was the first national anthem of a unified Korean state.


The anthem was first commissioned by Emperor Gojong in 1901 and presented to the Korean court on 1 July 1902, by German composer Franz Eckert, who was the director of the Korean Empire's military band at the time.[2] It was published in Germany in five different languages (Korean, German, English, Chinese, and French) and performed for the first time on 9 September 1902, during Emperor Gojong's birthday ceremony.[3]

The imminent demise of the Korean Empire's independence, however, meant that the anthem did not become widely available. With the signing of the Eulsa Treaty in 1905, the Korean Empire was well on its way towards annexation by the Empire of Japan.

Lyrics (monarchist version)[edit]

Original Korean English Modern Korean translation

대한제국 애국가 원가사.gif

God help the emperor
May he live forever
Bestow treasures like mountain-piles
May his influence and power reach across the world
Fifty million times may his blessings be renewed every day
God help the emperor

하늘이시여, 우리 황제를 도우소서
해옥주를 산같이 쌓으시고
위세와 권력이 천하에 떨치사
오천만 대까지 복이 매일 새롭게 하소서
하늘이시여, 우리 황제를 도우소서

It was the original version made for Gojong Emperor.[4]

Lyrics (Republican version)[edit]

The republican lyrics were re-discovered on 13 August 2004, by curator Lee Dong-guk of the Seoul Calligraphy Art Museum.[5] The surviving specimen was a copy kept by the Korean-American Club of Honolulu-Wahiawa and published in 1910 under the title Korean old national hymn in English and 죠션국가 in Korean.[5][6][7]

The discovery came as a surprise even in South Korea, where the existence of the republican lyrics was unknown until then. The finding was later reported in the mass media and has since then been performed by various K-pop artists. Hawaii has been a source for various pre-Japanese annexation heritage investigations by South Korea since many Korean Empire citizens emigrated to Hawaii before the Japanese annexation. One recent incident involved a Korean Empire émigré descendant donating a very rare 100-plus-year-old original passport issued by the Korean Empire to South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun during his visit to Hawaii.

The republican lyrics are:

republican Korean with hanja added Romanisation (Yale) English Modern Korean translation

샹뎨(上帝)는 우리 나라를 도으소셔

영원(永遠) 무궁(無窮)토록
나라 태평(太平)ᄒᆞ고 인민(人民)은 안락(安樂)ᄒᆞ야

위권(威權)이 셰상(世上)에 ᄯᅥᆯ치여
독립(獨立) 자유(自由) 부강(富强)을 일 신(日新)케 ᄒᆞᆸ소셔

샹뎨(上帝)는 우리 나라를 도으소셔

syā:ngtyeynun wuli na:la lul twou:swosye
yēngwen mwukwung thwo:lwok
nala thayphyeng hokwo inmin un an.lak hoya
wikwen i syēys(y?)ang ey stelchi:ye
twok.lip ca.ywu pwūkang ul ilq sin khyey hopswosye
syā:ngtyeynun wuli na:la lul twou:swo:sye

God help our nation
May our country be peaceful forever
May its people live comfortably
May our influence and power reach across the world
May independence, freedom and prosperity be renewed every day
God help our nation

하늘이시여, 우리 나라를 도우소서
영원 무궁토록 나라 태평하고
인민은 안락하여
위세와 권력이 세상에 떨치여
독립 자유 부강을 매일 새롭게 하소서
하늘이시여, 우리 나라를 도우소서

In the romanisation, ‹:› indicates length marks for singing that appear in the source; ˉ marks vowels that would have been pronounced as long vowels when not singing. While the copy appearing in the source ([1]) appears markedly newer than the 1900s and calls the anthem the “Joseon national anthem” (죠션 국가) instead of “Patriotic song of the Korean Empire” (大韓帝國愛國歌) as one would expect from a 1900s original, it clearly shows pre-1933 orthography (reproduced here) that was not used after the 1940s.

See also[edit]