Korean Folk Song Revived with Korean Wave

      December 12, 2011 10:14

      Korea's most beloved folk song "Arirang" seems to be gaining traction worldwide on the back of the rising popularity of K-pop, a recent study claims.

      In the study to be presented by Prof. Park Ae-kyung of Yonsei University this week at an international symposium hosted by the Academy of Korean Studies, Park makes the case that "Arirang" is also emerging as a cultural symbol to represent the nation.

      These two very different musical genres are dramatically converging under the Korean Wave, she added.

      Wonder Girls perform with a traditional Korean dance troupe to the tune of "Arirang" at the closing ceremony of the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens in July. /AFP

      The classic folk song has provided endless sources of inspiration to Korean musicians for generations. Before the country's independence from Japan's colonial rule at the end of World War II, no less than 53 popular songs borrowed their titles, lyrics or refrains from "Arirang." In later years, the song continued to inspire artists of subsequent generations, who frequently reinterpreted it.

      Now "Arirang" seems to have found its way into the hearts and minds of K-pop fans around the world as K-pop stars often perform it in their concerts at home and abroad.

      For instance, the tune was performed as a finale in a show featuring a host of popular Korean singers in Gyeongju in October, and also at the closing ceremony of the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens in July.

      In early November, some European K-pop fans gathered to listen to a rendition of "Arirang" in front of the Pompidou Center in Paris. They were drawn to the song after hearing it repeatedly at the concerts of their favorite Korean singers, they said.

      The song's rich history has seen it transcend the boundaries of its musical genre to become an "ever-evolving text that is expanding its influence to various fields of popular culture," Park added.

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