UNESCO Puts 'Arirang' on Intangible Heritage List

The Korean signature folk song "Arirang" has finally been listed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The UN body's Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage made the decision at a meeting in Paris on Thursday.

Last year, China listed a version of "Arirang" sung by ethnic Koreans in Jilin Province's Yanbian Autonomous Prefecture as its own intangible cultural heritage, prompting some jitters here among patriots who felt Beijing was trying to appropriate Korean culture.

UNESCO praised the Korean government's efforts to protect intangible cultural assets, and solicit participation of researchers and scholars across disciplines in the application process.

The Cultural Heritage Administration on Thursday announced a five-year plan to promote and preserve "Arirang" staring next year. It will allocate W33.6 billion (US$1=W,1083) to build an archive devoted to the song, hold exhibitions, fund research, and support "Arirang" festivals by regional organizations.

Seoul applied for UNESCO listing of all versions of "Arirang" in Korea ending with the words "Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo," but not necessarily the regional variations.

According to American missionary Homer Hulbert in 1896, "Arirang" was a song that expressed all Korean people's feelings from joy and anger to sorrow and happiness, and even children sang it everywhere.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 06, 2012 14:01 KST