After the Iron Curtain fell in 1991, Koreans have been free to journey to previously forbidden international locations similar to China.
The following 12 months, 29-year-old Jin Yong-sun traveled to China searching for traces of “Arirang” within the international land.
There it was. Deep throughout the huge continent have been remnants of the Korean people tune carried by Koreans relocated there all through historical past. Joyful and exquisite, but there’s a trace of longing and tragedy within the unofficial nationwide anthem of Korea.
“Tracking down the historical past (of ‘Arirang’), I got here to say that ‘Arirang’ is like flower seeds in your shirt. When you progress someplace else, the flower seeds go along with you and blossom there,” Jin informed The Korea Herald. “It’s the identical means with ‘Arirang.’ Koreans sing our personal songs in international lands, and it spreads there.”
|Jin Yong-sun, director of Arirang Museum and an “Arirang” researcher, speaks throughout an interview in Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon Province. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)|
The precise origin of the tune is unclear, however the oldest document of the tune seems throughout Joseon period, 1392-1910. It was extensively adopted by the general public across the 19th century when it was sung principally by laborers engaged on the restore of the palace Gyeongbokgung.
In 1991, Jin established a middle devoted to the research of the Jeongseon “Arirang” — a model of “Arirang” that originated from Jeongseon, Gangwon Province — in his hometown. He interviewed native residents and conventional singers in a bid to analysis and protect the tune.
The fruit of his decadeslong analysis is saved within the Arirang Museum in Jeongseon, of which he’s the director.
But younger Jin sought out the “Arirang” that has been handed by way of generations in different international locations, which was prompted by his private curiosity within the historical past of Korean folks’s migration.
“They say the Korean Peninsula is a land that has been invaded over 900 occasions. Since diaspora is rooted in Koreans’ migration. I’ve tried to observe their footsteps the world over, however it’s simply too broad,” he mentioned.
In his pursuit, Jin has visited China over 40 occasions together with different international locations in central Asia, Russia and Japan to the place Koreans have been pressured to relocate. There, he discovered that “Arirang” has blossomed into much more numerous strains.
“At first, the songs retained traits of the area that every originated from. For instance ‘Arirang’ sung by Koreans in China’s Amur River area have been very just like the songs within the Gyeongsang provinces,” he mentioned.
But over time, he defined that the completely different variations combined with one another and common variations of the tune started to face out.
“Jeongseon ‘Arirang,’ Miryang ‘Arirang’ (from South Gyeongsang Province) have been handed down as they have been. Then the songs start to alter through the time of second-generation migrants, feeling completely different from conventional Korean ones,” he mentioned.
“As a end result, ‘Arirang’ in different international locations befit the traits of the native music … Qingdao ‘Arirang,’ Yanbian ‘Arirang’ and Simyang ‘Arirang’ are among the many new ‘Arirang’ that co-exist with conventional ones.”
The traits of “Arirang” outdoors Korea fluctuate relying on the circumstances of their migration. Many folks of Korean descent within the central Asian international locations have been forcibly moved because of political motives of the Soviet Union within the 1930s.
Much of the Korean tradition died out, with Korean language being banned.
“People on this area affiliate ‘Arirang’ with phrases like ‘mother,’ ‘unhappiness,’ ‘dwelling,’ which point out their ache. To them, ‘Arirang’ is a tragic tune,” he mentioned.
This, nevertheless, differs from different areas like China, the place Koreans have been allowed to retain a lot of their tradition.
“We are likely to affiliate migrations simply with unhappiness. They left dwelling in order that they should be unhappy; that’s a Korean mind-set. But the individuals who left dwelling had the desire, the desire to seek out happiness,” Jin mentioned.
But even in international locations like China, a lot of Korean tradition is being assimilated into that of locals.
“As lengthy as there are Koreans, ‘Arirang’ won’t ever die out. Yanbian and different ‘Arirang’ will probably be handed on, however in Chinese,” Jin mentioned.
“We can’t cease cultural assimilation. But even after they (Korean-Chinese) have develop into a part of China, it’s our responsibility to make sure that they keep in mind the place they’re from. That they’re a part of our nation. For this we’d like constant analysis.
Jin voiced concern that with out correct efforts by the federal government, the tune’s Korean roots could fade with time. It was reported that China in 2012 had registered the tune as its nationwide intangible asset, even earlier than it was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity program by UNESCO later within the 12 months.
It was solely in 2015 that the Cultural Heritage Administration designated “Arirang” an Intangible Cultural Property of Korea.
“We want to acquire documentary proof that the tune had originated from Korean Peninsula. Anyone can say the tune is gorgeous, however we have to put together now in an effort to say that ‘Arirang’ is unquestionably ours,” Jin mentioned.
Neglecting historical past could show pricey sooner or later, he added.
“History will not be solely confined to the previous, however it impacts what is going to occur sooner or later. We have to know, document and always remember what has occurred,” he mentioned.
The scholar lamented that a lot of the continuing “Arirang” research is completed on a private degree. While the federal government has made efforts to conduct analysis, a lot of it’s short-term and lacks professionals who commit years to the trigger.
“I’ve achieved this (research of ‘Arirang’) all my life, and it’s nonetheless overwhelming. Scholars want to appreciate that it’s not simply the tune, however the historical past behind it. We want to review the thoughts and spirit behind ‘Arirang.’”
Jin’s subsequent plan is to finalize what he calls “Arirang Road,” monitoring the route by way of which “Arirang” has unfold the world over, together with the historical past of Korean migration that coincides with it. It was impressed by the Silk Road that allowed cultural interplay throughout Asia, Europe and Africa.
“When you take a look at how ‘Arirang’ has unfold, you possibly can see the historical past of Korean folks’s migration. Arirang Road can be about how far Korean folks and ‘Arirang’ went on this planet,” he mentioned.
In cooperation with an area broadcaster, Jin has been investigating the trail Arirang has traveled and the place it’s rooted in native tradition. He plans to carry an “Arirang” exhibition at Arirang Museum in September, the place movies, audio information and all different information associated to Arirang Road will probably be demonstrated.
“If you ask me the place the trail of Korean folks ends, I’ll say: It’s the place ‘Arirang’ does,” he mentioned.
By Yoon Min-sik
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