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Civic group slams China for claiming Arirang as their culture

The English version of petition poster “Arirang this time?! China why again!” released by VANK (Voluntary Agency Network of Korea)
The English version of petition poster “Arirang this time?! China why again!” released by VANK (Voluntary Agency Network of Korea)
Voluntary Agency Network of Korea, a nongovernmental diplomatic group, released a poster criticizing China’s attempt to claim the traditional Korean folk song Arirang as part of its culture on Saturday.

The poster, released in both Korean and English, reads: “Arirang this time?! China, why again!” It shows an image of a Chinese TV show with people singing Arirang wearing hanbok.

“China claims not only Korean songs, but also various aspects of Korean heritage, culture, and history, including hanbok and kimchi, as Chinese culture. We should stop this cultural imperialism.”

VANK has also started an online petition to protect Arirang since Saturday.

Arirang is one of Korea’s best-known folk songs that embodies people’s hardships and desire for independence. It is also designated a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity representing Korea.

However, a search for “Arirang” on China’s largest portal site Baidu results in an official search result that claims the song “is the culture of the Joseonjok people. Joseonjok belongs to China, and all of its culture, including Arirang, should be considered as Chinese.” Joseonjok are ethnic Koreans in China. VANK states that the culture of ethnic Koreans in China did not originate from China, but from Korea.

“We strongly condemn Chinese cultural imperialism that tries to take Korean culture away,” VANK said.

VANK was established in 1999, and has actively carried out numerous campaigns both online and offline to spread information about Korea to the world. The petitions VANK has launched can be found in the Bridge Asia Website.

By Lee Jung-Youn (jy@heraldcorp.com)
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