Korea: The National Anthem

When I travel, I always find national anthems fascinating in the same way I find it fascinating to suddenly see different flags waving majestically in foreign wind.

It was as I was in the typical Monday assembly today, listening to the Koreans sing the song of their people, that I was reminded of the first time I heard the anthem: Monday September 30th 2013, at 9:20am, give or take a few minutes. I was struck by the moment.There’s nothing quite like listening to a gym full of nationals – children and adults alike – uniting in one voice that makes you feel like more of an outsider.

Of course I can’t sing along, but whenever I heard the song at assembly I put my hand over my heart anyway during the introduction. I always feel weird about it – do they think it’s strange this waygook is acting only as a Korean would? (But it feels disrespectful not to and be the only person with both hands by my side!!)

I don’t know why it weirds me out so much whenever I’m in the midst of this singing.

Maybe it’s because most of us Canadians don’t really sing our national anthem so much as mumble it, stumbling through the parts we don’t remember. On that same vein, maybe it’s because I haven’t met very many truly patriotic Canadians and any display of patriotism makes me uncertain of how to react (I suspect this comes from our attempts to differentiate ourselves from Americans whose patriotism goes through the roof along with the Fourth of July fireworks).


But I think I feel awkward mostly because I’m standing there on the outside looking in.

The sixth-month mark looming, I guess I feel a bit nostalgic lately, and I have to say that even if I’m not the most patriotic person around, nor sing O Canada with a flaming heart ignited by national love, sometimes it’s a bit lonely being an outsider.

Don’t get me wrong – most of the time I love it! But hey, sometimes you can’t help but miss being surrounded with like-persons.

Anyway, all that to introduce the fact that I’m going to post the Korean national anthem here because hearing national anthems isn’t something one often gets to hear (unless one is really into YouTubing such things in their spare time, which is a totally reasonable pastime. I’m not even being sarcastic cuz I could totally picture myself doing it too).

Like all national anthems, it’s certainly got that touch of melancholy around the edges. I feel particularly  contemplative when they talk of “undividedness”.


5 thoughts on “Korea: The National Anthem

  1. I know the feeling Marta when I attended a ball game in the U.S. years ago. Sometimes many emotions rise to the surface that we cannot always explain nor suppress, so we roll through the roller coaster ride of being juxtaposed in two (or more) mental places being observer/participant and not always knowing which to lean on.
    On the other hand I came across a YouTube vid of an event I have rarely seen at a very recent hockey game at the Bell Centre. The organ player actually stopped playing and the crowd continued to sing and sing strongly and loudly. A rarity at a hockey game in this large arena in this city. It made my jaw drop and my hair stand on end.


  2. I youtubed a version of a girl singing the South Korean anthem at a game…it is so lovely as a solo!
    I am sure you are respected that much more for doing as they do when their anthem plays.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s