Colloquium: The Politics of “Arirang”

photo: Byong Won LeeThe Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies fall 2014 col­lo­qui­um series will open Thurs­day, Sep­tem­ber 18, with an explo­ration of some of the polit­i­cal aspects of Korea’s most famous folk­song, “Ari­rang.” Byong Won Lee, pro­fes­sor of eth­no­mu­si­col­o­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, will deliv­er a pre­sen­ta­tion titled “The Pol­i­tics of ‘Ari­rang’: Tri­par­tite Polit­i­cal Dynam­ics of the Kore­an Folk­song in South Korea, North Korea, and Chi­na.” The col­lo­qui­um begins at 4:00 p.m. in the Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies con­fer­ence room.

Ari­rang” orig­i­nat­ed in the cen­tral region of Korea in the mid-1920s as a new folk­song (sin-minyo) and has evolved into the icon­ic song for Kore­ans every­where. In 2011, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment des­ig­nat­ed “Ari­rang” as an Intan­gi­ble Cul­tur­al Her­itage of the eth­nic Kore­ans in the Yan­bian Kore­an Autonomous Pre­fec­ture of China. 

Nation­al­is­tic South Kore­ans were sus­pi­cious of the Chi­nese move as anoth­er of the ongo­ing Chi­nese efforts to appro­pri­ate Kore­an her­itage, includ­ing assert­ing own­er­ship of some his­tor­i­cal events. The South Kore­an gov­ern­ment has been active­ly pro­mot­ing the song inter­na­tion­al­ly as the nation­al musi­cal icon with con­sid­er­able exag­ger­a­tion of its his­tor­i­cal ori­gin. This effort result­ed in the reg­is­tra­tion of “Ari­rang” as a UNESCO Intan­gi­ble Cul­tur­al Her­itage of Human­i­ties in 2012. 

By con­trast, “Ari­rang” was rarely men­tioned in North Korea until the ear­ly 1980s. The inser­tion of the song title in the “Ari­rang Mass Games” in North Kore­an is an effort to tone down the strong ide­o­log­i­cal emboss­ment and project a utopi­an Korea under social­ism through the uni­fi­ca­tion of the penin­su­la on North Kore­an terms. 

Pro­fes­sor Lee’s pre­sen­ta­tion will exam­ine the tri­par­tite polit­i­cal dynam­ics of “Ari­rang”: (1) as a musi­cal icon through its nation-brand­ing efforts in the Repub­lic of Korea, (2) as a soft image-mak­ing medi­um and ide­o­log­i­cal dis­guise in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic People’s Repub­lic of Korea, and (3) as a polit­i­cal embrac­ing of minori­ties by the People’s Repub­lic of China.

Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies col­lo­quia are free and open to the pub­lic. The Cen­ter is locat­ed at 1881 East-West Road on the UH Mānoa cam­pus. Paid park­ing ($6.00) is avail­able in the park­ing lot mau­ka of the CKS build­ing and else­where on cam­pus. For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, includ­ing arrange­ments for access for the hand­i­capped, tele­phone the Cen­ter at (808) 956‑7041.

A Night of Korean Art Songs

photo: Kim Hyeon-SimSopra­no Hyeon-Sim Kim will present a recital of Kore­an art songs Sep­tem­ber 6, 2014, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in Orvis Audi­to­ri­um, 2411 Dole Street on the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai‘i Mānoa cam­pus. Chung Haing Lee, piano, and Seo­la Kim, jang­gu and haegeum, will accom­pa­ny Kim in a pro­gram of songs cho­sen to fit the themes of home­land, sea­sons, love, and nature, rang­ing in style from Kore­an tra­di­tion­al to roman­tic West­ern melod­ic songs.

Hyeon-Sim Kim is an alum­na of Seoul Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty (bach­e­lor of music and mas­ter of music in voice) and the Man­hat­tan School of Music in New York (master’s degree in vocal per­for­mance). She is guest pro­fes­sor of voice in the Music Depart­ment of Kyung Hee Uni­ver­si­ty in Seoul. She has lec­tured at Seoul Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty, Korea Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty of Arts, Kun-Kuk Uni­ver­si­ty, and Sejong Uni­ver­si­ty in Seoul.

Kim has per­formed eleven solo recitals in New York, Nashville, Seoul, and Pusan and has appeared in numer­ous operas, includ­ing La Boheme (Mimi), L’Elisir d’amore (Adi­na), Car­men (Micael­la), and Ryu Gwan Soon (Ryu Gwan Soon). She has record­ed two albums: Come Again! Sweet Love and The Grace of God.

Kim’s recital is pre­sent­ed by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai‘i, Mānoa, Music Depart­ment and Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies, The Unit­ed Kore­an Asso­ci­a­tion of Hawaii, and Seoul Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty Alum­ni Asso­ci­a­tion. Tick­ets are $10 gen­er­al admis­sion and $6 stu­dents, seniors (65+), and fac­ul­ty (ID Required). For more infor­ma­tion about the pro­gram, see the UH Music Depart­ment Web site.

Korean Festival Offers a Full Day of Food, Music, and Other Entertainment

Korean festival logoThe Hawaii Kore­an Cham­ber of Com­merce, with the sup­port of many com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions and busi­ness­es and the help of hun­dreds of vol­un­teers, will stage its thir­teenth annu­al Kore­an Fes­ti­val Sat­ur­day, July 12, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

This year’s fes­ti­val will be held at Mag­ic Island. The event is free and open to all.

The Kore­an Fes­ti­val aims to share, pro­mote, and raise aware­ness of Kore­an cul­ture in the com­mu­ni­ty. Pro­ceeds from the event are used to fund ser­vice projects and ven­tures that ben­e­fit the Kore­an and larg­er com­mu­ni­ty in Hawaii, includ­ing an annu­al schol­ar­ship fund for out­stand­ing, civic-mind­ed stu­dents enter­ing or cur­rent­ly enrolled in college.

Every year, the fes­ti­val presents sam­ples of Kore­an cul­ture through food, dance, art, music, and enter­tain­ment. Per­for­mances this year run from tra­di­tion­al dance to K-pop to the Roy­al Hawai­ian Band. The com­plete sched­ule of events is avail­able at

This year the Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies will be rep­re­sent­ed at the fes­ti­val. Look for our tables in the tent with oth­er arts and cul­tur­al activ­i­ties orga­ni­za­tions. Stop by and talk with us about the Center’s activ­i­ties and resources.

Korean festival layout

Free Concert: “Sounding Ethnomusicology: Transcending Borders”

Poster: EMA concertThe Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai’i Eth­no­mu­si­col­o­gy Asso­ci­a­tion will present EMA con­cert 2013 – “Sound­ing Eth­no­mu­si­col­o­gy: Tran­scend­ing Bor­ders” – Fri­day, March 1, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. in Orvis Audi­to­ri­um. Admis­sion is free. 

The con­cert will explore inter­ac­tion between dif­fer­ent cul­tures and ideas with pieces that high­light, to vary­ing degrees, inter­act­ing tra­di­tions, chang­ing prac­tices, and even gen­res. East engages the West, tech­nol­o­gy merges with tra­di­tion, and inter­nal prac­tices explore new avenues of expression. 

The Eth­no­mu­si­col­o­gy Asso­ci­a­tion is a stu­dent-run orga­ni­za­tion that seeks to increase aware­ness and under­stand­ing of all musics and cul­tures through out­reach, edu­ca­tion, and per­for­mance with­in the Uni­ver­si­ty, the com­mu­ni­ty, and beyond. Although the group is com­posed large­ly of eth­no­mu­si­col­o­gy stu­dents, all stu­dents are able and encour­aged to join.

Traditional and Contemporary Music for Haegeum

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawaii Music Depart­ment will present a pro­gram of tra­di­tion­al and con­tem­po­rary music for haegeum per­formed by Soo-Yeon Lyuh on Fri­day, Octo­ber 28, 2011, at 7:30 p.m. in Orvis Audi­to­ri­um. The con­cert is free. 

Soo-Yeon Lyuh is a pro­fes­sion­al haegeum (two-string Kore­an fid­dle) per­former and a mem­ber of the Nation­al Gugak Cen­ter, a gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tion of the Repub­lic of Korea. She earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in Kore­an tra­di­tion­al music and is cur­rent­ly a doc­tor­al can­di­date at Seoul Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty, where she also serves as a lecturer. 

Cur­rent­ly a vis­it­ing schol­ar at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawaii, Lyuh has per­formed solo haegeum recitals in both Seoul and Daegu, Korea. she will be joined in the pro­gram by UH music fac­ul­ty mem­bers Byong Won Lee, jang­gu; I-Bei Lin, cel­lo; and Thomas Osborne, piano.

The pro­gram will include Kore­an court and folk music, a con­tem­po­rary work by Young-Jae Kim, and the world pre­mieres of com­po­si­tions writ­ten espe­cial­ly for Lyuh by UH com­posers Don­ald Reid Wom­ack and Thomas Osborne.

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, con­tact the UH Music Depart­ment (