No substitute for ‘Aegukga’As a nation always seeks prosperity for its people, it is essential to maintain and enhance their sense of solidarity.
Each nation has several different symbols, including a national flag, anthem and flower, to consolidate a sense of unity and homogeneity among its people. The aforementioned tokens are particularly meaningful as they carry the same meaning as wedding rings do for couples, or ID cards do for company employees.
Even during those times when they are dissatisfied with their spouse or their boss, people are required to wear a ring or a company badge. Our country has various symbols: “Taegeukgi” (national flag), “Aegukga” (national anthem) and “Mugunghwa” (national flower), all the history of which is embroil
ed with our people’s blood and tears.
Since it was first designed in 1882 under the reign of King Gojong of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the national flag has become an emblem of patriotism. Hoisted at every Olympiad and raised in every classroom across the country, it also encases the recovered remains of our veterans who lost their lives during the 1950-53 Korean War. Meanwhile, composed by Ahn Eak-tai in 1936 and adopted in 1948 by the first Republic of Korea, Aegukga is still sung by Koreans at major domestic and international events.
Now it is at the center of controversy as Lee Seok-gi, a proportional representative of the far-left Unified Progressive Party in the April legislative election, said, “Aegukga is not our national anthem.” Although pro-North Korean forces of his caliber are notorious for singing protest songs instead of the national anthem at their events, Lee’s latest remarks are dumbfounding. He said, “We don’t have a national anthem mandated by law.”
This is clearly a misrepresentation. We have been singing the anthem since the inauguration of the Korean government. Moreover, the 2010 ordinance on national ceremonies explicitly defines Aegukga as the national anthem. Lee receives his salary from our state coffers, but he still makes citizens nervous by issuing such ridiculous remarks as “pro-U.S. sentiment is worse than pro-North orientation.”
Lee proposed our old folk song “Arirang” be used as a substitute for the national anthem, but this hardly seems appropriate. If Lee remains loath to accept Aegukga as anthem, he must return all of the benefits he receives to the state.