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.

The economic contrast between North and South Korea is clear from space.

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.

통일을 이루자

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.

통일이여 오라

May the day of reunification (just) come.

Korea's reunification flag

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.

19 Responses to “True Patriotism > Nationalism”

  1. I second your feeling…If we can get China to cooperate things will be a lot easier.

  2. Gina Joy Says:

    Spouses were separated at that time, and a parent from his children. Younger generations don’t know this pain directly, but probably have cousins they don’t even know exist. That is why it is so poignant to hear the children sing it.

    • The Seoul Searcher Says:

      I’ve found that the diaspora seems to care about this a lot more than people still living in the peninsula.

      I guess the diaspora people’s opinions of Korea are influenced more by the older generation, whereas the young people who live in Korea have formed their own, and are more worried about the problems reunification would cause, with little benefit for them, as they aren’t emotionally tied to any of the relatives they might have.

  3. Indonesia anthem the title “Indonesia Raya” …
    my teacher told me that the song was to encourage everyone to make triumphant Indonesia…

  4. wow that image of north and south korea at night is just amazing… a picture truely is worth a thousand words.. actually that photo is worth about 100,000 words.

  5. Well. Actually this is the issue that my friends always ask me about when we talk about Korea. I think it is such a sad story to tell that the nation is actually divided into 2 countries… aw;

  6. When I think of North Korea, I actually feel something different that I cannot explain from others. You should ask ‘WHY’ 🙂

    I visited North Korea 5 years ago with the support of the goverment.
    At that time, the relationship between South Korea and North Korea was good as a result of former president Kim deajoong’s endeavor. He thought young people needed to realize how important the renufication of South and North was. They felt that North Koreans were totally different people in thouse days, because there was no exchange between those two countries.

    Before I visited there, I was worried amd afraid of meeting them. I thought they might be very aggressive and not welcome us. However, I was very wrong!
    They were the same as us. I met some of North Koreans and talked with them in SAME Korean. Of course, I couldn’t talk about sensitive topics such as political issues. I don’t exactly remember what we talked about, but it was completely usual things as I cannot remember at all!

    Yes, we are the same Koreans even though we’re splited by some political and complicated reasons.

    I won’t say we have to be reunited. It’s a very sensitive issue as I need more time to think about it.
    But nobody can deny we are totally different people. We’ve separately been just for 60 years since the Korean War.

    We are just the Koreans.

    • The Seoul Searcher Says:

      If we don’t reunify soon, we might as well never do it… People who know unified Korea are dying off. Soon there will be no connection.

      • Oh.. There are many mistakes in my writing, but I cannot edit them, can I?

        Yes, you’re right.
        I agree that we should be reunited, but I can’t say when it should happen! Soon is the best if I don’t consider about any other conditions.. However, it’s really complicated thing.

        Korea hasn’t been ready for the reunification yet. We have to prepare for it throughly as Germany did.

        It’s not that simple as you think… That’s why I told it like that.

        • It was way more easier for Germany since their economy for both countries were quite similar, so after they integrated, they only took a bit to regenerate the economic setbacks.. Yeah for Korea, we need a lot of time to figure what we’re going to do.. The S Korean government did place some South Korean factories in North Korea, but the problem is the political instability is scaring away the people who would invest in North Korea 😦

          • The Seoul Searcher Says:

            West German economy was 9 times larger than East German, and Germany was at the time #2 or #3 in the world.

            South Korea’s is 32 times larger than North Korea’s, and Korea is only 12th or 15th (depending on how you judge, by PPP or GDP). At any rate, reunification will be super difficult.

  7. O.o ehm… sorry didn’t know where else to put it but in here sounded kinda OK ,,
    New post XD

  8. I really do hope that the two Koreas can become one before I die… Its so sad that we’re the same people but we are separated for some stupid reasons 😦

    • The Seoul Searcher Says:

      Well, I don’t know if I’d call the reasons stupid. Let me ask you this question. Would you rather live in a united DPRK or divided ROK?

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