ARIRANG / A CANDY FACTORY PROJECT
Lyrics translated by YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES
Music by TAKUJI KOGO
"Arirang," the iconic, traditional Korean song of love and heartbreak, has been played and sung by musicians throughout Korea's modern history to express memory, sorrow, pride, and propaganda.
The song, a national symbol for both North and South Korea, originated, some say, during the Chosun Dynasty (1392-1910); others say it has existed since the Shilla Dynasty, more than 1,000 years ago.
In 1926, "Arirang" became a hit as the theme song of the first Korean movie of the same title, which depicted the sorrow of Koreans living under Japanese rule. Ironically, even Japanese pop singers, beginning in the 1930s, created their own arrangements of the song.
During the Korean War (1950-53), an American turned "Arirang" into a march to celebrate the heroism of the American-led United Nations forces.
In 1985, the song was sung in Pyongyang by an art troupe from Seoul during a reunion of families separated since the Korean War.
And in 2002, North Korea organized the Arirang Festival of gymnastics and art featuring 10,000 performers, including students and young children, to celebrate the birthday of the nation's founder Kim Il-sung.
It was also this secretive and cash-strapped country's first festival seeking to promote tourism and develop a new source of foreign currency.
In the South, these days, "Arirang" is an unofficial national anthem that performers arrange into countless melodic or lyrical versions played in any kind of mode: pop, rock, folk, jazz, symphonic, even hip-hop.
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