Monday, 14 January 2008


Arirang is supposedly the most popular and best-known Korean folk song amongst Korean all over the world. Arirang is an ancient Korean word with no direct modern meaning. 'Ari' means "beautiful" (For example 아리따운 native Korean word means "beautiful", "lovely", "charming") 'Rang' can mean "dear". Because of those words, arirang could be interpreted to mean "beautiful dear". I have also heard it said that Arirang has no meaning.

Many variations of the song exist, but the original form is Jeongseon Arirang, which has been sung in Jeongseon County for more than 600 years. The more well known form it the Bonjo Arirang from Seoul. It' also referred to as Gyeonggi Arirang. Bonjo Arirang is a recent version and was made popular in the 1926 film called, surprisingly, Arirang.

I thought it might be interesting to also include the lyrics, so let's start with the Lyrics in Hangul:

아리랑, 아리랑, 아라리요. (Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo.)
아리랑 고개로 넘어간다. (Arirang gogaero neomeoganda.)
나를 버리고 가시는 님은 (Nareul beorigo gasineun nimeun)
십리도 못가서 발병난다. (Simnido motgaseo balbyeongnanda.)

The English Translation:

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

Ten li is about 4km

Other uses of Arirang

The use of Arirang pops up everywhere. You have restaurants, shops products and a host of things that use this word as part of its title. My first encounter with it was Arirang TV

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