Arirang, lyrical folk song in the Republic of Korea
Inscribed in 2012 (7.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Country(ies): Republic of Korea
- Arirang, lyrical folk song in the Republic of Korea
Arirang is a popular form of Korean folk song and the outcome of collective contributions made by ordinary Koreans throughout generations. Essentially a simple song, it consists of the refrain ‘Arirang, arirang, arariyo’ and two simple lines, which differ from region to region. While dealing with diverse universal themes, the simple musical and literary composition invites improvisation, imitation and singing in unison, encouraging its acceptance by different musical genres. Experts estimate the total number of folk songs carrying the title ‘Arirang’ at some 3,600 variations belonging to about sixty versions. A great virtue of Arirang is its respect for human creativity, freedom of expression and empathy. Everyone can create new lyrics, adding to the song’s regional, historical and genre variations, and cultural diversity. Arirang is universally sung and enjoyed by the Korean nation. At the same time, an array of practitioners of regional versions, including local communities, private groups and individuals, actively lead efforts for its popularization and transmission, highlighting the general and local characteristics of individual versions. Arirang is also a popular subject and motif in diverse arts and media, including cinema, musicals, drama, dance and literature. It is an evocative hymn with the power to enhance communication and unity among the Korean people, whether at home or abroad.
Decision 7.COM 11.27
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: Arirang is constantly recreated in various social contexts, places and occasions, serving as a marker of identity among its bearers while promoting values of solidarity and social cohesion;
- R.2: Inscription of Arirang on the Representative List could promote greater visibility of intangible cultural heritage and promote dialogue and respect for cultural diversity and creativity, particularly because of the great variety found within a single element;
- R.3: Representatives of the bearers were involved in planning the proposed safeguarding measures that aim in particular at mitigating potential risks resulting from Arirang’s inscription on the Representative List; there is a clear commitment of the submitting State to provide a legal framework for safeguarding the various cultural expressions of the Republic of Korea;
- R.4: Academics, researchers and local and regional authorities consulted widely with communities throughout the nomination process and evidence is provided of their free, prior and informed consent for possible inscription;
- R.5: After a multi-year process of consultation with communities concerned, Arirang was included in 2012 in the State Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage maintained by the Cultural Heritage Administration.
Inscribes Arirang, lyrical folk song of Korean people on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
© 2012 by Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea
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