What is Arirang?

The term Arirang (아리랑) is something I often hear in reference to Korean culture, but for a long time I wasn’t sure what it was. Finally, I did some research and it turns out to be a very famous folk-song:

Although the song is originally a folk song, it has become an important part of Korean culture, both North and South. You hear it played at many public venues, soccer/football games, and so on. For special occasions, sometimes you’ll see KPop groups sing it was well (e.g. Wonder Girls). It’s essentially the unofficial anthem of Korean culture and if you are in South Korea, you’re likely to encounter it from time to time.

In the North, the hold an annual Arirang Festival, which are among the biggest attractions of the year, but I am not 100% sure if the term “arirang” here relates to the song or not. If you’re curious, someone wrote about their experience seeing the Festival by the way.

According to Wikipedia, Arirang is essentially a love song, whose name is taken from an imaginary mountain pass (Arirang Pass), and has many variations of the same tale. There’s quite a bit of study around this one song because of its regional variations, which may reflect regional cultures and such.

Anyhow, that’s a brief look at nice little song that helps speak to an entire culture. Enjoy!

About Doug 陀愚

A Buddhist, Father and Japanophile / Koreaphile.
This entry was posted in Korea, Music. Bookmark the permalink.

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