The composer of the original Korean unification song, Ahn Byung-Won, lamented in a interview that, “We shouldn’t sing this song any more. When we wrote this song, we thought unification would come sooner.” John Cho reported this quote on his piece in the Korea Herald, lamenting that perhaps “the song has come dangerously close to becoming an anachronism. A symbol of false hope, perhaps.”
And while those sentiments are understandable after nearly 70 years of division, we need to be reminded of the fact that the way things are now needn’t determine the actual future. What’s important is that we work to see how things might be and what we would wish them to be, to work towards something better.
As we await the unveiling of a new unification song, one written, produced and performed by a growing team of notable and talented stars, we might take some time to ponder the meaning of the song that came before it.
Translated, the simple lyrics and tune sing:
Our hope is the reunification
The hope in my dream is reunification
A reunification carried out with all my heart and soul
Let’s achieve the reunification
The reunification will revive our people
The reunification will revive our nation
Reunification, come quickly!
Originally sung as a song for independence from Japanese colonial rule, the words were changed after the division of the Korean peninsula to become a song for national unity. The hopes and wishes of this song must not be forgotten and a new generation must take up the challenge with a new vision of a brighter future for One Korea.