National Anthem of Korea (Lyrics, History)

The national anthem of South Korea is known as “Aegukga,” which means “The Patriotic Song.” The lyrics for the song were written in 1896 by an unknown author. When it was first used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the lyrics were set to the melody “Auld Lang Syne.” It wasn’t until 1935, when South Korea was founded, that original music was created to accompany the lyrics. This music was created by Ahn Eak-tai.

The original lyrics for the national anthem feature four verses, but like many other nations, South Koreans have shortened this and typically just sing the first verse. South Korea’s national anthem has come under fire over the years because many feel as though the lyrics are too focused on racial nationalism. Many people believe that the national anthem proclaims patriotism for the entire Korean race instead of just South Korea, which could put national security at risk due to troubles between North Korea and South Korea.

Lyrics

Let morning shine on the silver and gold of this land,


Three thousand leagues packed with natural wealth.


My beautiful fatherland.


The glory of a wise people


Brought up in a culture brilliant


With a history five millennia long.


Let us devote our bodies and minds


To supporting this Korea forever.


The firm will, bonded with truth,


Nest for the spirit of labour,


Embracing the atmosphere of Mount Paektu,


Will go forth to all the world.


The country established by the will of the people,


Breasting the raging waves with soaring strength.


Let us glorify forever this Korea,


Limitlessly rich and strong.