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Arirang, lyrical folk song in the Republic of Korea

Writer : acc Date : 2013-08-08 (Th) 07:47 Clicks : 13320


Arirang, lyrical folk song in the Republic of Korea


Arirang is a popular form of Korean folk song and the outcome of collective contributions made by ordinary Koreans throughout generations. Essentially a simple song, it consists of the refrain ‘Arirang, arirang, arariyo’ and two simple lines, which differ from region to region. While dealing with diverse universal themes, the simple musical and literary composition invites improvisation, imitation and singing in unison, encouraging its acceptance by different musical genres. 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.



"Arirang" (Korean: "아리랑") is a Korean folk song, often considered the unofficial national anthem of Korea.[1]

In December 2012, the song was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity programme by UNESCO.[2][3] This was followed by an announcement by the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea of a five-year plan to promote and preserve the song. The plan is aim to support "Arirang" festivals by regional organizations, as well as building an archive for the song, exhibitions, fund research; of which it has allocated ₩33.6 billion.[4


Etymology[edit source | editbeta]

Many versions of the song open by describing the travails the subject of the song encounters while crossing a mountain pass. "Arirang" is one name for the pass and hence the title of the song. Some versions of "Arirang" mention Mungyeong Saejae, which is the main mountain pass on the ancient Joseon Dynasty road between Seoul and southeastern Gyeongsang Province.

There are apparently a number of passes in Korea called "Arirang Pass". One such is a pass among some hills in central-northeastern Seoul. That Arirang Pass, however, was originally called Jeongneung Pass and was only renamed in 1926, to commemorate the release of the filmArirang.[5] Older versions of the song long predate the movie.

Arirang Pass (아리랑 고개) is an imaginary rendezvous of lovers in the land of dreams, although there is a real mountain pass, called, "Arirang Gogae," outside the Small East Gate of Seoul. The heroine of the story from which the Arirang Song originated was a fair maid of Miryang. In fact, she was a modest woman killed by an unrequited lover. But as time went on, the tragic story changed to that of an unrequited lady-love who complained of her unfeeling lover. The tune is sweet and appealing. The story is recounted in "Miss Arirang" in Folk Tales of Old Korea (Korean Cultural Series, Vol. VI).

Variations[edit source | editbeta]

Many variations of the song exist. They can be grouped into classes based on the lyrics, when the refrain is sung, the nature of the refrain, the overall melody, and so on. Titles of different versions of the song are usually prefixed by their place of origin or some other kind of signifier.

The original form of Arirang is Jeongseon Arirang, which has been sung for more than 600 years. However the most famous version of Arirang is that of Seoul. It is the so-called Bonjo Arirang, although it is not actually "standard" (bonjo: 본조; 本調). This version is usually simply calledArirang, and is of relatively recent origin. It was first made popular by its use as the theme song of the influential early feature film Arirang (1926).[6] This version of the song is also called Sin Arirang (Shin; "new") or Gyeonggi Arirang, after its provenance, Seoul, which was formerly part ofGyeonggi Province. (The titles Bonjo Arirang and Sin Arirang are also sometimes applied to other versions of the song.)

Particularly famous folk versions of Arirang—all of which long predate the standard version—include:

Paldo Arirang is sometimes used to collectively denote all the many regional versions of the song, as sung in the far-flung regions of Korea's traditional Eight Provinces (Paldo).

The American composer John Barnes Chance based his 1967 concert band composition Variations on a Korean Folk Song on a version of Arirang which he heard in Korea in the late 1950s.

Lyrics[edit source | editbeta]

The table below gives the refrain (first two lines; the refrain precedes the first verse) and first verse (third and fourth lines) of the standard version of the song in Hangulromanized Korean, and a literal English translation:

Korean original
Romanization
English translation
아리랑, 아리랑, 아라리요...
아리랑 고개로 넘어간다.
나를 버리고 가시는 님은
십리도 못가서 발병난다.
Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo...
Arirang gogaero neomeoganda.
Nareul beorigo gasineun nimeun
Simnido motgaseo balbbyeongnanda.
Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo...[7]
Crossing over Arirang Pass.[8]
Dear[9] who abandoned me [here]
Shall not walk even ten li[10] before his/her feet hurt.[11]

The standard version of Arirang has three verses, although the second and third verses are not as frequently sung as the first verse:

Korean original
Romanization
English translation
청천하늘엔 찬별도 많고
우리네 가슴엔 희망도 많다
Cheongcheonghaneuren chanbyeoldo manko
Urine 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 kkonman pinda
There, over there that mountain is Baekdu Mountain,
Where, even in the middle of winter days, flowers bloom.

Refrain[edit source | editbeta]

In all versions of the song, the refrain and each verse are of equal length. In some versions, such as the standard version and Jindo Arirang, the first refrain precedes the first verse, while in other versions, including Miryang Arirang, the first refrain follows the first verse. Perhaps the easiest way to classify versions—apart from melody, which can vary widely between different versions—is the lyrics of the refrain. In the standard and some other versions, the first line of the refrain is "Arirang, Arirang, arariyo...," while in both the Jindo Arirang and Miryang Arirang (which are otherwise quite different from each other), the first line of the refrain begins with "Ari arirang, seuri seurirang...." ("Arariyo" and "seurirang"

Korean original
아리랑 아리랑 아라리요
아리랑 고개로 넘어간다

Bonjo Arirang[edit source | editbeta]

Korean original
English translation
If you leave and forsake me, my own,
Ere three miles you go, lame you'll have grown.
Wondrous time, happy time—let us delay;
Till night is over, go not away.
Arirang Mount is my Tear-Falling Hill,
So seeking my love, I cannot stay still.
The brightest of stars stud the sky so blue;
Deep in my bosom burns bitterest rue.
Man's heart is like water streaming downhill;
Woman's heart is well water—so deep and still.
Young men's love is like pinecones seeming sound,
But when the wind blows, they fall to the ground.
Birds in the morning sing simply to eat;
Birds in the evening sing for love sweet.
When man has attained to the age of a score,
The mind of a woman should be his love.
The trees and the flowers will bloom for aye,
But the glories of youth will soon fade away.

Miryang Arirang[edit source | editbeta]

Korean original
English translation
Look on me! Look on me! Look on me!
In midwinter, when you see a flower, please think of me!
Chorus: Ari-arirang! Ssuri-Ssurirang! Arariga nanne!
O'er Arirang Pass I long to cross today.
Moonkyung Bird Pass has too many curves
Winding up, winding down, in tears I go.
Carry me, carry me, carry me and go!
When flowers bloom in Hanyang, carry me and go.

Bird Pass or "Saejae" is the summit of a high mountain, rising north of Moonkyung in the ancient highway, linking Seoul with Miryang and Tongnae (Pusan). Its sky-kissing heights are so rugged that in their eyes. This is a love song of a dancing girl from Miryang who was left behind by her lover from Seoul (Hanyang). She is calling him to take her with him to Hanyang. She believed that her own beauty was above all flowers in Hanyang. The words in the first line of the chorus are sounds of bitter sorrow at parting. This song was composed by Kim Dong Jin.

Gangwon Arirang[edit source | editbeta]

Korean original
English translation
Castor and camellia, bear no beans!
Deep mountain fair maidens would go a-flirting.
Chorus: Ari-Ari, Ssuri-Ssuri, Arariyo!
Ari-Ari Pass I cross and go.
Though I pray, my soya field yet will bear no beans;
Castor and camellia, why should you bear beans?
When I broke the hedge bush stem, you said you'd come away;
At your doorway I stamp my feet, why do you delay?
Precious in the mountains are darae and moroo;
Honey sweet to you and me would be our love so true.
Come to me! Come to me! Come and join me!
In a castor and camellia garden we'll meet, my love!

The highland maids would like to make up their hair with castor and camellia oils and go flirting instead working in the soybean fields. The mountain grape moroo and banana-shaped darae were precious foods to mountain folk. The song is sarcastic, but emotional to comfort the fair solitary reapers who go about gathering the wild fruits in the deep mountains of Kangwon-do.

Association with the United States[edit source | editbeta]

The South Korean government designated Arirang as the official march of the U.S. Army's 7th Infantry Division since 26 May 1956,[12] after its service in Korea during the Korean War, though the official Division song was the "New Arirang March," an American-style march arrangement of Arirang (the 7th Infantry Division is currently inactive; however, it will be reactivated as an administrative headquarters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington on October 1, 2012 to provide more oversight and guidance for the base’s five combat brigades.[13]

On February 26, 2008, the New York Philharmonic performed Arirang for an encore during its unprecedented trip to North Korea.[14



   

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Michael S. Limb

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Reception committee Co-Chairmen

01) Tomiko Abe                    Co-Chairman of the Tokyo Chapter of the AAC

02) Dr. Louis Fujimoto         Chairman of the Japanese Affairs Committee

03) James Fan                       Director of the Chinese Affairs Committee

04) David Ignacio, Esq.        Chairman of the Filipino Affairs Committee

05) Richie Ian                        Chairman of the   Caribbean Affairs Committee

06) Mohummad Iqubal       Chairman of the International Affairs Committee

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08) Young Chul Lee             Co-Chairman of the Korean Affairs Queens Committee

09) Qasim Majeed                 Chairman of the Event Committee

10) Pea Young Ho                Co-Chairman of the Korean Business Affairs Committee

11) Jae Hack Sin                   Co-Chairman of the Korean Business Affairs  Committee

12) James Sheng                  Director of the Chinese Business Affairs Committee

13) Gun  Soo Youn               Chairman of the Korean Affairs Committee

14) Wu, Kuan He                  Chairman of the Chinese Business Affairs Queens Committee

15) Oshell Oh                       Communication Director of the International  Affairs Committee    

16) Rafael Flores                Director of Central America Affair Committee          

 


Michael S. Limb

Executive Chairman

The Asian American Council
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