Rock Version of National Anthem Sparks Outcry

    February 22, 2006 17:22

    A TV commercial for SK Telecom that features a rock version of the national anthem has inflamed watchful patriots. The commercial contains scenes of Korean crowds who gathered to cheer the national football team during the 2002 Korean-Japan World Cup to the soundtrack of Yoon Do-hyun's rock version of the anthem.

    But some in the country’s online community are displeased. "Big business using the national anthem to make a profit doesn't give me a good feeling,” says one post. “This action clearly has a commercial motivation. There has to be something mentally wrong” with SK Telecom, says another.

    At Daum Media websites, a petition is taking shape against commercial use of the anthem. The Netizen behind it wrote, "We are against a commercial version of the song of support all Koreans will sing together at the time of the World Cup being used to promote SK Telecom."

    The official supporters’ club of the national team, the Red Devils, also chimed in. It argues singing the national anthem has a kind of ritualistic sanctity, so it is better to leave it as a song that can be respected. Some point out that the national anthem is “a symbol of our ancestors who died for the sake of our nation,” and say its dignity must be maintained intact. “The patriotism in the hearts of people who join in the chorus of our national anthem is a sacred thing,” one user writes. “Even if it is only out of respect for the people who love the national anthem, it should not be set to a rock beat.”

    But others say if the flag can be used to cheer the national team, so can the national anthem. If the anthem can be made known to more people across the world, it will have the effect of lifting Korea’s image. “A good thing about this song is that people who don’t even know the lyrics have a chance to get to know the national anthem,” one supporter said. “Is it wrong if we sing the national anthem cheerfully? Must we always sing it with reverence?”

    SK Telecom, which sponsored the Red Devils in the 2002 World Cup, was able to boost profits by harnessing the supporters’ anthem of the time “Oh! Pilsung Korea.”

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