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Who is lyricist of Korean national anthem: Ahn Chang-ho or Yoon Chi-ho

Who is lyricist of Korean national anthem: Ahn Chang-ho or Yoon Chi-ho

Posted March. 31, 2015 07:25,   


Is it Ahn Chang-ho, or Yoon Chi-ho? The long-running heated controversy over the true lyricist of Korean national anthem will be reproduced in a debate organized by the Young Korean Academy on Tuesday.

Marking the 70th anniversary of liberation from Japan`s 1910-45 colonial rule, the Young Korean Academy will hold a research presentation to reveal the true lyric writer of Korean national anthem at the National Assembly Library in Yeouido 2 p.m. on the same day. The presentation will cover the theories about Yoon, Ahn and multiple writers.

Ahn Yong-hwan, a research professor of the Myongji University Center for Korean Studies who argues Ahn Chang-ho wrote lyrics of the anthem, will present a research paper. He will focus on the phrases of "five hundred years" and "tens of millions generations" in the Song of Mugunghwa (Korea’s national flower, known as hibiscus) published in the Collection of Patriotic Songs, which was also appeared in the editorial for the Newsletter of Hyupsung Club in January 1898. The Song of Mugunghwa, which was announced by the Korea Daily News in 1907, is evaluated as the original version of Korean national anthem.

According to the professor, Ahn Chang-ho was deeply involved in operation of the Baejae Hakdang (Baejae School) that published the Newsletter of Hyupsung Club, and Ahn also wrote the editorial by himself. He argues that Ahn wrote lyrics of the national anthem citing that there is a commentary of "in the same tune of the Song of Mugunghwa" under the title of "Song to Encourage Learning" written by Ahn in the Collection of Patriotic Songs. Also, the same phrases used in "Song to Encourage Learning" and "the Student Song" appear in the "Song of Mugunghwa."

On the contrary, those who believe Yoon Chi-ho wrote the national anthem lyrics emphasize that another "Song of Mugunghwa," of which lyrics are similar to that of the current national anthem, is included in the "Hymns" published by him in 1908. Unlike the "Collection of Patriotic Songs" of which publication year is not known as its covers were torn out, the "Hymns" has a page where the writer and publication year are clearly printed. In addition, a paper that contains lyrics of the Korean national anthem, which is exhibited in Emory University in Atlanta, the U.S., has a phrase of "written by Yoon Chi-ho in 1907."

Some say that the national anthem was not written by just one person but by many people. At the debate to be held on Tuesday, professor Ahn, Arirang Association director Kim Yeong-gab, Hanshin University professor Kim Joon-hyuk, and Korean national anthem researcher Yoon Jeong-kyeong will be the keynote speakers.