The Korean signature folk song "Arirang" has finally been listed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The UN body's Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage made the decision at a meeting in Paris on Thursday. Last year, China listed a version of "Arirang" sung by ethnic Koreans in Jilin Province's Yanbian Autonomous Prefecture as its own intangible cultural heritage, prompting some jitters among Koreans who felt Beijing was trying to appropriate Korean culture.
UNESCO praised the Korean government's efforts to protect intangible cultural assets, and solicit participation of researchers and scholars across disciplines in the application process.
The lyrical folk song has inspired many literary and art works. Both the first full-scale Korean film and the first opera made by Koreans had the title "Arirang." The song has long served the role of rallying unity among Koreans both on the Korean Peninsula and in other parts of the world.
We hope the registration of Korea's most popular folk song as UNESCO cultural heritage will help increase the world's awareness of Korea and the South Korean people's perception of the importance of their own intangible cultural heritage.