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South Korean Military Bans ‘Arirang’, Country's Iconic and Beloved Song

Categories: East Asia, South Korea, Arts & Culture, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Music, Protest

South Korean Military is infamous for banning books [1], films and songs [2] which they find ‘controversial’ or ‘subversive’ and their recent decision to ban the nation's most beloved and historically important songs, ‘Arirang’ (which even has the famed nickname of ‘unofficial national anthem of Korea [3]‘) met with fierce backlash. The military explains it was because Arirang's sad tune is ‘too depressing [4]‘ [ko] to be played in the army and some versions of it derive from North Korean music. However, one journalist lashed out [5] [ko] that such decision demeans ‘the song's rich history of empowering and consoling the oppressed and mobilizing the grassroots’. As a sign of protest, South Koreans living abroad sang Arirang together during their latest demonstrations held across five different countries [6] against the presidential election manipulation scandal [7]. Here are links to video clips of the singing during a rally in New York city [8] and in Germany [9]. (English subtitles are not yet available)