True Patriotism > Nationalism
At the world cup, we’ve heard our fair share of national anthems, and the Korean national anthem is an interesting song that has an interesting history. The world cup has brought about the best kind of nationalism in Koreans, but there is one feeling that I appreciate more than the nationalistic one that flows through my heartt when I hear the national anthem. It’s a feeling brought about by another song.
I choose today to introduce the song because today’s date is June 25th. It is an important day for Korea. It is the day that the Korean War started 60 years ago, in 1950. That pretty much means Korea has been divided for just as long. As such, 3 generations have come of age in the divided Korea, and this song, created shortly after the division happened, calls for the reunification of Korea.
The song is called “우리의 소원은 통일 (Uri e soweon eun tongil)” or Reunification is our wish. Every time I hear this song I almost start to cry. I don’t know what it is about it. I grew up in America and I didn’t even understand the words when I first heard it, but it makes me tear up. Perhaps it’s the children singing it that does it for me. I mean, they don’t deserve to live in a divided country, they’re only children. What do they know of international politics and war?
Perhaps it is the situation in North Korea that makes me emotional. Just look at this picture of the Korean peninsula at night. South Korea is a robust, modern economy. North Korea is.. well, not. The harsh conditions that the people in the north live under is striking, and sad. So perhaps that’s why I am getting emotional.
This song is sung in both North and South alike, and usually in presentation it’s sung by children, because the intent of the song is to portray innocence.
Videos of two renditions of the song with lyrics after the jump
The first video is the song sung by South Korean children.
The second video is sung by North Korean child performers.
The lyrics of the song (with my own translation with poetic justice).
우리의 소원은 통일
We wish to be reunited.
꿈에도 소원은 통일
Even in our dreams, our wish is the same.
이 정성 다해서 통일
We want it from the bottom of our hearts.
Let’s come together.
이 겨레 살리는 통일
We are one nation.
이 나라 살리는 통일
We are one people
통일이여 어서 오라
May the day of reunification come quickly.
May the day of reunification (just) come.
I could talk a lot about reunification, because it’s really not a simple issue. Some people want it to happen quickly, some want it to happen, but only after a long long time, and still others don’t want it at all. If I had more time, I’d share my exact opinion about it, but just watching both of those videos has me choked up right now. I need to take a break. WHOOOOO!
Usually whenever North and South Korean sports teams play each other in international sporting events, instead of playing their national anthems, and raising their flags, the people raise the reunification flag and sing this song. It is a coming together of the people, regardless of the positions of their governments.