Interrogating Cinema, TV, Music and Online Games
Jake Bevan - 5 ‘Arirang’: Addressing the Nation in South and North Korea
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5 ‘Arirang’: Addressing the Nation in South and North Korea
Since the early twentieth century, the folk song ‘Arirang’ has been used by individuals in cultural, scientific and political arenas to invoke a sense of Korean national unity. Despite decades of national division, this chapter demonstrates how ‘Arirang’ has been deployed in both North and South Korean contexts to achieve this aim by drawing on a historical legacy which bridges generations of Cold War hostility. To accomplish this, I will conduct a comparative process akin to that undertaken by Hyangjin Lee (2000) in her analysis of contemporary Korean cinema. In her book, Lee picks a single culturally significant icon – in this case Ch’unhyang-jŏn, a traditional folk-tale – and examines its significance in Colonial Korean cinema, as well as within the two national cinemas which emerged following the division of the Korean peninsula (Lee 2000: 67–100). In place of Ch’unhyang-jŏn, this chapter explores the significance of ‘Arirang’ as a cultural commodity that has likewise endured colonialism and national division, and which similarly invokes a Korean folk culture.
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