Folk Song – Korean

???, ???, ????…
??? ??? ????.
?? ??? ??? ??
??? ??? ????.


Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo
I am crossing over Arirang Pass
The man or woman who abandoned me
Will not walk even ten li before his/her feet hurt

My informant told me that she learned this folk song at a very young age. The title of the song is “arirang,” which means beautiful dear in Korean. Because this is the most popular folk song in Korea, every child learns the song once they enter school. Many versions of the song exist, but the melody of the song is always the same. The content in the song is actually very sad. However, she says that Koreans feel much attached to the song because it is very rich in its history. The song dates back to over 600 years ago. This song is about a lover who has been scorned and thus is very depressed. The lover cannot let go of the hurt her partner inflicted upon her. Thus, her heart is broken and the lyrics reflect her state of mind.

Although the lyrics of this song do not seem to be fit for young children to learn, my informant tells me that she did not even think about what the song meant when she learned it. It was more of a folksong that everyone knew. The meaning of the song did not really matter as much as knowing the song.

She says that when everyone in her class sings this song together, it is like people singing the national anthem in America. It gives her a sense of unity and peace with her teachers and classmates. Also, when she was younger, she would sing this song with her friends when they would get together to play. It was a fun pastime to be able to sing together and get closer through a popular folk song.