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Broken VoicesPostcolonial Entanglements and the Preservation of Korea's Central Folksong Traditions$

Roald Maliangkay

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824866655

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824866655.001.0001

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Defining Korean Folksongs

Defining Korean Folksongs

Characteristics and Terminology

(p.52) Chapter 2 Defining Korean Folksongs
Broken Voices

Roald Maliangkay

University of Hawai'i Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the realm of Korean folksongs, old and new, their regional characteristics, and their terminology. Urbanization, technological change and political initiatives have greatly affected the creation and standardization of genres, and their valorization. While Confucianism and Buddhism were primary factors in the creation of folksongs in the past, it appears as though Christianity is currently the most likely agent of change.

Keywords:   characteristics, folksong, regional, urbanization, media, terminology, Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity, gender

A category of folksongs often comprises a very broad range of musical expressions. Because of the myriad possible interpretations of a single song, it is easier to deliberate the signifiers of such a category than to define the songs in it, though doing so still requires delineations of application, content, time, and music.1 Even if one were to consider all transcribed collections available, it is, as Dave Harker notes, very hard to determine what the songs that antiquarians, scholars, and folklorists have passed down to us tell us about the feelings or thoughts of a majority population.2 In 1954, the International Folk Music Council defined folk music (a category incorporating both dance and song) as “the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission.” Such a tradition, it considered, was shaped by three main factors: “(i) continuity which links the present with the past; (ii) variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group; and (iii) selection by the community, which determines the form or forms in which the music survives. … The term does not cover composed popular music that has been taken over ready-made by a community and remains unchanged, for it is the re-fashioning and re-creation of the music by the community that gives it its folk character.”3 As Keith Howard rightly points out, the definition is Eurocentric and anachronistic.4 It considers communities as having a distinct culture that somehow naturally retains its connection with the past, and it prioritizes authenticity and the re-creation of music by the group, even though this rules out composition, which may be the only part of the definition capable of creating meaningful links to the present.

The term “folksong” connotes tradition, country life, and particular instruments that are not used in other forms of music. A folksong is passed on by people who, individually or in a group, often sing it to support a specific activity on a particular social and sometimes seasonal occasion. Beyond that, it may be (p.53) easier to say what a folksong is not, or prob ably is not. A folksong is not a pop song; it is rarely composed by a known composer and its rhythm is unlikely to suit popular dance. Much like modern American rap, folksongs freely use music and text from other songs, and so their specific origins are often lost. Similarly, as appropriation and substitution occur, so a folksong’s relationship to activities or social occasions is blurred or lost. In Korea, where many folksongs have been given new meaning by the Cultural Properties Protection Law, that relationship is often emphasized in vain, as many traditional activities and occasions have been forgotten. Even though pop music has become dominant and left a wide gap between itself and folk music, this has not obscured the genre of folksongs. To define them may be difficult, but they remain an easily distinguishable genre that manages to occupy a comfortable niche in society.

What has come to be regarded as a folksong (minyo) in Korea is that which was once sung by lay people during work or on special occasions. Many songs have since acquired different functions, but they occasionally still hold clues to their original context. While the lyrics of many songs relate to work such as weaving and farming, others relate to religious or sociopolitical affairs. Although not necessarily separate from the latter categories, some songs serve primarily as an emotional outlet and would be sung, for example, at times of mourning. Folksong lyrics can, however, be vague and indirect, so there are times when music and rhythm are better indicators of a song’s original or current function. The rhythm of songs to accompany the pounding of rice, for example, varies according to whether the work was done by hand or foot, the former faster and the latter slower. Working songs are usually in perfect sync with the movement and the breathing required of a specific task.5 An interesting case in this regard is the opening scene of the 1994 movie Story of Two Women (Tu yŏja iyagi). Inspired by the national appeal of farmers singing “Arirang” during hard work, in the scene Minjung director Lee Jung-Gook lets farmers sing the Chindo version (from Chindo County in South Chŏlla province)—in the movie presented as a working song—during harvesting, as though it is a source of energy and inspiration.6 The rhythm of the song, a turgid 12/9-beat, clearly prevents them from getting on with their work, as the farmers are shown pausing repeatedly in order to finish performing (as opposed to merely singing) a line.

The type of folksongs that first emerged remains unclear. Because folksongs are usually transmitted orally, one can only guess at their origin, but some folklorists, including Ko Chŏngok and Kim Muhŏn, believe the first folksongs were composed for or during work. They believe that other songs, such as those sung to lament the loss of a relative or to complain about aspects of life, were composed by adjusting and altering those earlier songs.7 Im Tonggwŏn disagrees on the grounds that there simply is not sufficient evidence for this. He finds the (p.54) earliest written remnants of folksongs among hyangga (songs of home), a broad range of songs of written poetry from the time of the three kingdoms period (57 BCE–668). The latter include songs about work, the relationship between men and women, and religion. Although they constituted polished expressions of the experiences of the elite, composed in Chinese, Im believes they were influenced by folksongs, like many other forms of Korean literature.8 Since folksongs can be interpreted in various ways, the same song may have been sung for different purposes, such as for commercial profit or personal entertainment. To rely entirely on semantics when establishing a folksong’s reason for existence is unwise, because lyrics can be misleading. Songs with a controversial meaning are, after all, more likely to hide or twist their actual intent. Although the function of a folksong may change ahead of the lyrics over time, in general one must assume that meaning and function are largely identical at the time of its creation. Scholars therefore usually analyze lyrics, music, and rhythm when searching for the original function of a song.9

Before recordings of folksongs began to appear in the early 1900s, Korean folksongs served as accompaniment for all kinds of manual labor, rituals, and other aspects of the daily life of the lower classes, or sung by working-class entertainers on special occasions. Raymond Williams argues that in the West, after 1870, folksongs came to be associated with the preindustrial, pre-urban, and preliterate as opposed to the popular, working class, or commercial.10 The Western definition of folksongs, he notes, changed continuously; by the mid-twentieth century, distinctions were further blurred when orally transmitted country and industrial songs were recorded and adapted to new composition and performance. In Korea a similar process of commercialization began in the early 1900s, when recordings of folksongs helped thrust the latter into the limelight. The notion of rurality to which Williams alludes, on the other hand, does not hold in Korea, where from the late nineteenth century itinerant folksong singers came to perform increasingly in urban areas. When in the early 1900s the first commercial gramophones of Korean folksongs appeared, however, they were still associated with tradition, in part because they were recorded without much musical accompaniment, and in part because the sorikkun, the professionals who sang them, continued to perform mostly “live.” The distinction between folk and popular songs was nevertheless obscured by both categories, including songs that became widely cherished as uniquely representative of the Korean colonial experience, such as the popular songs “The Tear-soaked Tumen River” and “Tears of Mokp’o.”11

The new media had a significant effect on the sound, length, and variety of folksongs. Whereas phonograph technology improved fast, it allowed only a limited duration and tonal range, which led to a preference for certain repertoires and sequences, as well as specific voices. Since the majority of recordings (p.55) were carried out in Japan, Japanese musical standards influenced the quality of the final sound on records. The influence of the phonograph industry extended to the lyrics as well. All record companies operating in Korea were Japanese-owned, and the Koreans working for their lyrical departments had all been trained in Japan.12 Not only through phonograph records, but also through the radio and school music curricula, Koreans became very familiar with the sound of Japanese music. But whereas Japanese music was part of the Japanese cultural policy, it could not replace Korean music. Indeed, while an elaborate system of censorship ensured that all entertainment was in line with Japanese colonial policy, those interests often conceded to commercial demands. Korean customers remained king. The first folksong recordings censored on the basis of “disturbing public order,” for example, were versions of the theme song of Na Un’gyu’s popular film “Arirang” (1926) by the same name, sung by Ch’ae Tongwŏn, Kim Taegŏn, and Yi Aerisu. It is believed that because the movie had strong patriotic undertones, when film narrators made the audience sing along to a modernized, “new” version of the song during the end credits it acquired a nationalist flavor, which the music and lyrics did not other wise support. Subsequent recordings were therefore censored, until the Japanese authorities realized the song’s popularity was unlikely to wane and was, in fact, growing even among Japanese. Using the song’s momentum, they commissioned the production of several pro-Japanese versions of the song instead.13 Although radio broadcasts were intended as a mechanism of information control—and to this end, toward the late 1930s they came to include Japanized Korean popular songs as well as patriotic songs in Korean—it was important to recognize the interests of Korean radio service subscribers for them to have the desired impact.14 In 1933, those interests forced the government-general to create a separate Korean channel with a distinct Korean flavor. Much of the programming focused on the study of the vernacular language, as well as on Korean traditional music and radio dramas.15 While the channel was established to facilitate the assimilation of Koreans into the colonial empire, it would ultimately not only reinforce the notion of Koreanness, but also place it within modernity. The music industry thus merged both political and commercial objectives.

In the early 1930s, the radio began to increasingly use gramophones as opposed to live performers for their music broadcasts, and this, along with the decreasing cost of the medium for private use, led to a significant growth in record sales.16 Korean intellectuals were concerned about the influence of popular music on traditional Korean music. And Japanese folklorists, fascinated with the notion of an untainted, authentic Korea that provided a marked contrast with that of Japan, agreed with them. In February 1932, Takahashi Jun, a frequent contributor to the government-run monthly Chōsen (Korea), expressed his concern with the standardizing effect of urbanization on the regional diversity of Korean (p.56) folksongs, urging for immediate efforts to collect them to prevent further loss.17 In 1935, in a series of columns on musical entertainment in farming villages for the Tonga daily, folklorist Song Sŏkha singled out the negative effects of gramophone culture on folksongs: “They shamelessly and without hesitation call these nauseating pop songs [kayo] with their backward lyrics and excruciating melodies ‘folksongs,’ even using the poor expression ‘new folksongs,’ and by simply using people’s instinct to like novelties, they make them numbingly sentimental and cold without any opportunity for artistry.”18 But the process of standardization was irreversible. By the end of the colonial period, traditional folksongs were drowned out by the sound of foreign and Korean popular music.19

After liberation, pop music continued to harbor the aspirations of Koreans keen to express themselves freely, and emulate the idyllic, romantic lifestyles they had grown familiar with through cinema. During the Korean War (1950–1953), Koreans began tuning in to the American Forces Network Korea (AFKN), a radio channel that constantly played the latest Western pop hits. And when they were forced to seek refuge in Pusan, they were able to pick up the signals of Japanese radio channels. For a while, folksongs were rarely performed in public. A small number of musicians composed or performed folksongs on behalf of the Department of Defense, sometimes as part of small military entertainment troupes,20 but most of them were forced to abandon their profession, and would struggle to pick it up again after the war. Modern dance was a powerful expression of individualism and a significant facilitator of social interaction. Many of the records sold in the 1950s and 1960s therefore showed on the back cover or inside sleeve what type of dance would suit the songs included. Folksongs lost their appeal with the younger generations, who keenly followed the latest developments in Western popular culture. Radio stations incorporated traditional music, including Kyŏnggi minyo and Sŏdo sori in their programming, but foreign music grew in popularity unabatedly.21

Underpinned by the establishment of the Cultural Properties Protection Law (1962) and the Minjung movement that began approximately a decade later, folk art was reevaluated and a clear picture of the lower and middle classes established.22 Folk arts and crafts became the proud heritage of all social classes. While Koreans are often eager to point out which honorable or aristocratic lineage their family belongs to, most of them regard folksongs as a collective heritage, as though they originally belonged to the lower social classes that sang them. A significant divide nevertheless persisted between the city and the countryside at least until the 1990s: journalists and scholars who went out to the countryside often found that rural singers were embarrassed by their local culture, which they regarded as inferior to that of urban areas. This no doubt affected people’s active participation in folk arts in urban areas as well.23

(p.57) While some students of folksongs may study at a conservatory and dream of a professional career in music, the majority of students study folksongs as a pastime only. They are not obsessive about folk life and tradition and keenly follow the latest trends and fads, including K-pop. These days, people who learn to sing folksongs come from a wide range of backgrounds, both in terms of their parents’ occupation and financial position. In my explorations of the Korean folksong scene, I have not, however, come across students from very wealthy families, which may be because they choose to dedicate their spare time to activities more suitable to a career in business. Because they have considerable free time, middle-aged house wives make up the majority of folksong students. Even among the elementary and middle school students learning folksongs, female students comprise the vast majority. This predominance of female singers is largely the result of Confucian norms: while men are expected to dedicate their time and energy to their occupation, and to ensure that they can support their family through it, women may dedicate themselves to pastimes without such pressure, as long as their children and house hold matters are well looked after.24 The possibility that the dominant presence of women in folksongs is driven at least partially by a preference toward a more effeminate representation must be entertained, though both male and female performers continue to express their concern over the general lack of male practitioners. The gender imbalance significantly affects the presentation and the music of a number of genres, as I will demonstrate in chapter 3.

Korean Folksong Characteristics

A Korean folksong is typically sung along a pentatonic scale and a free three-beat cadence with a wide range of vocal ornaments and relatively clear diction. A single definition would, however, deny the wide range of styles and variations that have long existed. Every large region in Korea has its own cultural, linguistic, and geographical characteristics, all of which are represented in local folksongs. To tie regionally specific folksongs to a particular region would have been easier in the past, before recording and broadcast media began standardizing them. But such songs rarely refer to a particular locale these days. This is in part because due to rapid urbanization many have lost the connection to their home-town, and in part because of the increased use of standard Korean. It was nevertheless a distinction based on location that the Academy of Korean Studies used to categorize its comprehensive collection of oral literature in South Korea, the Outline of Korean Oral Literature (Han’guk kubi munhak taegye), published between 1979 and 1990. Although the collection, which consists of 82 volumes, is useful in that it collects oral literature from different regions in Korea, it provides (p.58) very little background information and is based on poor methodology and rushed fieldwork, leaving the regional distinction of much of the collected data opaque.25

To refer to a particular regional melodic characteristic or mode, Koreans often use the Sino-Korean suffix-cho/-jo or the pure Korean term t’ori. Although it is widely used for Korean traditional music these days, Korean music practitioners and scholars agree that the system of staff notation is problematic. Despite being comprehensive, it is based on metrical partitions of time and relatively set pitches, and therefore does not correspond well with the sound and performance of Korean traditional music.26 Han Manyŏng recognizes five main melodic characteristics in Korean folksongs that correspond with music staff notes as follows: (1) the mode of Kyŏnggi province, also known as Kyŏngjo, a pentatonic mode equivalent to the pitches C, D, F, G, and A (or Bเ); (2) the melody of the P’yŏngan and Hwanghae provinces’ representative song “Sushimga” (Song of Sorrow), based on a tritonic mode consisting of the relative pitches D, A, and C; (3) the tritonic—E, A, and B—melody of the song “Yukchabaegi” from the southwestern namdo (lit. “southern provinces”) part of the peninsula, which covers north and south Chŏlla provinces and south Ch’ungch’ŏng province; (4) Kyŏngsang provinces’ tritonic mode known as menarijo, based on the folksong “Menari,” consisting of the relative notes E, A, and C; and (5) the song “Odolttogi,” representing Cheju province’s central mode, made up of tones equivalent to E, A, and C.27 Given the wide range of songs and the many different singing styles, it is not surprising that Han’s definitions somewhat differ from those of other scholars. Keh Chung Sik, for example, argues that the melody of namdo’s “Yukchabaegi” is quadratonic, made up of A, D, E, and F,28 while Yi Pohyŏng and Chang Sahun regard B, E, and F as the dominant tones of that mode.29

The vocal timbre common among professional folksong singers is husky, occasionally raspy, as well as intense and seemingly unpolished, a quality that in the West might be described as “broken.” Professional singers make wide use of chest, head, and falsetto registers, in addition to considerable dynamics. Whereas voices may have overtones and be praised for them, it is not a planned or manipulated quality. To ornament and express their phrases singers use a wide range of vocal techniques, such as appoggiaturas, exaggerated fricatives, and vibratos of different width and speed.30 The essence of Korean traditional music is found in the raw, natural beauty of the sounds of the elements that help produce the tones, as well as in the emotion and spontaneity with which they are performed. Since the voice is considered no different from an instrument, the production of sound effects is more or less made visible. Joshua Pilzer argues that a small number of folksongs have been standardized so much that singers’ vocal timbres have become the only remaining avenue for personal expression.31

As with most Korean traditional music, a pitch-perfect tone is not the ideal: sliding from one pitch to another is a fairly common ornament. Although laymen (p.59) often attempt to maintain a particular pitch, professional singers may noticeably adjust it during singing, at specific instances.32 Shin Taech’ŏl finds that due to the influence of Western classical music, singers have come to increasingly adopt the pure tone and vocal clarity typical of bel canto. He attributes the influence in part to the predominance of Western music in education, and the use of Western music notation and Western classical music instruments in teaching Korean music.33 As I demonstrate later, the church has been a major factor in the spread of Western classical music in Korea. Christians now make up more than half of the population of Korea, and church and Western classical music are therefore likely to affect the way in which folksongs are sung.

When they sing, musicians do not keep to a strict beat; instead, they follow set rhythmic cycles, changdan (chang = long, tan/-dan = short), which tend to stretch one measure and are regularly repeated. The use of these circular patterns, which are named, allows the singer to speed up or slow down endlessly, though it is vital to follow set accents in order to demarcate and identify the cycles and to allow the listener to anticipate a specific accent. Each of the patterns effectively creates a mode that can be conducive to a sad, spirited, or joyful mood.34 Examples of these patterns are the moderate chungmori (12/4), the livelier kutkŏri (12/8), and the faster chajinmori (12/8).35 In Western musical notation, these cycles are commonly transcribed using 12/4, 12/8, as well as 15/8, 9/8, 6/8, and 3/4 meters, with an indication of the exact tempo,36 but as mentioned earlier, many Koreans find the system unsuitable for Korean traditional music because of the frequent sliding, “imperfect” tones and the rhythmic cycles that do not follow a regular tempo. On many occasions singers perform to the accompaniment of the hourglass drum. It is commonly played with the hand on one side and a stick on the other to produce both warm beats and sharp little accents. The basic pattern of the three cycles is as follows:

Defining Korean FolksongsCharacteristics and Terminology

Im Tonggwŏn notes that the musical aspect of a folksong is more constant than its lyrics.37 Many folksongs, and farming and funeral songs in particular, follow a call-and-response structure. Because the chorus of such songs is constantly repeated, singers can endlessly extend the song through single-line (p.60) improvisation. The improvised part does not necessarily have to make sense in the context of the song, and many singers use common exclamations instead to incite participation. Many such songs were likely invented during drinking parties. A well-known example of this type of song is “Kanggangsullae,” the name of which constitutes the four syllables sung at the end of each phrase. Other examples can be found among the Sŏnsori sant’aryŏng (see chapter 3), which have a shorter chorus. In either case, the potentially improvised lines tend to be sung solo (sŏnch’ang, tokch’ang, or apsori), while the repeated parts at the end of each phrase are sung by two or more singers (hapch’ang or chech’ang).38 A good example of solo lines followed by the chorus of a group in a funeral song (in this case a bier carrying song, sangyŏ sori) can be seen in Im Kwon-taek’s 1996 movie Festival (Ch’ukche).39

Another important characteristic of Korean folksongs is that only a few, including NICP no. 8, “Kanggangsullae,” and the repertory of the Sŏnsori sant’aryŏng, are still accompanied by dance. As elsewhere, in Korea many folksongs were originally associated with dance. The influence of both Buddhism and Confucianism presumably led to the decline in dance early on. According to Im Tonggwŏn, Buddhism and Confucianism both prohibited the expression of emotion. While Buddhism regarded singing as a form of meditation or relaxation and generally considered dance disorientating, Confucianism required a static, near-motionless performance.40 Although this appears to contradict the common idea that folksongs are a direct expression of emotion,41 it is possible that such moral codes influenced public performances in this way, as they also historically led to women being banned from traveling entertainment groups (see chapter 3). Such social constraints, on the other hand, have had little effect on private singing occasions. Im does point out that during the Chosŏn dynasty those in the higher echelons of society considered it improper for women to sing folksongs,42 but this view was prob ably uncommon among the rural farming communities where women were expected to take part in labor and ritual activities outdoors. A movie in which village women are shown fishing and diving (as well as doing all the cooking and house keeping while still duly dreaming of heteronormative romance) is Kim Suyong’s 1965 The Seaside Village (Kaenmaŭl). The untitled theme song for the movie was included on Jigu Records LM 120076, a compilation of theme songs that was brought out in the same year and has a jacket with the image of women dressed in a white hanbok dancing in a line on the banks of a river, which typically associates the folksong tradition of “Kanggangsullae.” Curiously, the song and dance do not feature on the album or in the movie, but they were appointed an IICP in the ensuing year.

Korean folksongs are rarely tied to a specific costume. But, at least from the early years of the Chosŏn dynasty until the end of the colonial period, professional singing groups—such as those that developed the Sŏnsori sant’aryŏng (p.61) repertoireoften wore combinations of color in order to stand out from the crowd of commoners traditionally dressed in plain white. From the early 1980s onward, competition at major folk events such as the National Folk Arts Contest led to further embellishment. While many groups added colorful garments and accessories, others focused on enhancing the impact of their presentation by making their white costumes and the performers’ movements entirely uniform. In the 1990s, the iconic success of the women’s circle dance song “Kanggangsullae”which itself introduced various uniforms over the years—inspired a group from the Pukch’ŏng Folk Arts Preservation Society from south Hamgyŏng province (Hamnam Pukch’ŏng minsok yesul pojonhoe) hoping to emulate the anti-Japanese prestige of the tradition to adopt a similar costume. As discussed in the previous chapters, the group’s efforts were successful and led to the official recognition of their main song, “Tondollari,” in 1998.43

Thematically, Korean folksongs differ from those of neighboring countries in one major aspect: the predominance of Confucianism. Although the initial intent of songs often remains obscure, many folksongs relate to the difficulty of abiding by strict Confucian moral codes and hardship caused by social and gender stratification.44 Im Tonggwŏn’s 1984 Yŏsŏng-gwa minyo (Women and folksongs) includes many songs that express the hardship that women suffered as a result of Confucianism. The following example condemns the hard work that was commonly expected of a wife by her parents-in-law:

  • You’re getting married, you’re getting married.
  • Don’t get married into a countryside house hold.
  • The spinning wheel that your father-in-law made creaks.
  • When you fall asleep during work all spent, you use the spinning wheel as your pillow.45

Another song describes the burdens imposed by married life in a more comical manner:

  • The fart of my father-in-law is an ordering fart.
  • The fart of my mother-in-law is a nagging fart.
  • The fart of my sister-in-law is a snitching fart.
  • The fart of the male servant is an airy fart.
  • The fart of my husband is an unconcerned fart.
  • My fart is a stealthy fart.46

A quality that many South Koreans believe can be found in folksongs across virtually all possible categories, including the two songs transcribed above, is han. This feeling of bittersweet melancholy, which is believed to lie at the core of the Korean disposition, is commonly regarded as an essential element of (p.62) Korean traditional music. It is a mode born out of the suffering of an individual, or of the Korean people as a whole as victims of foreign aggression, but because it is not entirely negative, it can coexist with humor.47 Han has often underlain scholars’ interest in folksongs, and many works on folksongs either refer to the term or argue its significance.48 Some have argued that it has roots going back as far as the three kingdoms period,49 but Werner Sasse found that while the term han was barely used in publications in the 1950s, it became strongly endorsed during the Minjung movement in the 1970s and 1980s.50 It would, however, be wrong to dismiss the term’s relevance on the basis of it having been invented. Words will always have their limits in describing a mode and style of performance, but in Korea today, han has fairly clear connotations. Folksongs that associate the quality typically reference daily toil, grief over the loss of a loved one, or the homesickness of women forced to live with their in-laws.

Despite the prevalence of Confucian themes, in the past few decades a growing number of Christians have made attempts to obscure or erase Confucian, Buddhist, or shamanistic elements from traditional customs and rituals, either by interfering with them directly or by replacing them with Christian alternatives.51 Yi Kyŏngyŏp’s 2006 study of local rituals on Chŭngdo Island shows that although the impact of Christianity on folk rituals may be subtle and may necessitate a fair degree of compromise and adaptation on the part of the Christians, it is nevertheless substantial.52 Although Christians who perform adaptations of traditional music in church occasionally face criticism from fellow Christians,53 the practice is growing. Usually the changes affect only the lyrics, such as in the case of Pak Minhŭi. Pak released two folksong albums in March 2012, one a selection of standardized traditional folksongs, the other a selection of Christian variations on traditional folksongs. The latter CD, Kugak ch’anyang (Korean traditional songs of praise), comprises seventeen traditional folksongs with traditional accompaniment but with new lyrics.54 The first song is “Hyo arirang” (Pious Arirang). Whereas the music and chorus are identical to “Arirang”—Korea’s most prevalent folksong and the first song of Pak’s other album, Chŏnt’ong minyo (Traditional folksongs)55—the verses are different. The first verse of Pak’s Christian version bears little resemblance to the traditional one:

  • Hananim abŏji sŏmginŭn nara pumonim ŏrŭshin-do chal konggyŏnghase.
  • Blessed be the country of the Lord, our father; let us honor our parents and children.

Even though this verse is very similar to a psalm, the singer’s voice and fairly heavy accompaniment on this Christian version seem identical to the traditional (p.63) one, which makes it seem as though the traditional song was recorded only to demonstrate the singer’s credentials.

The Kugak ch’anyang kasu hyŏphoe (Association for Singers of Praise in Korean Traditional Music), established in July 2011, fosters the creation and performance of songs that are based on traditional folksongs but with new lyrics. Recordings of these songs sometimes betray a vocal style reminiscent of choir-style singing and a greater emphasis on melody. The arguably more traditional elements constitute the core repertoire and vocal style, as well as the selection of musical instruments and costume. The association includes two church ministers, one of whom is singer Yi Munju. Yi was appointed holder of Sŏdo sŏnsori sant’aryŏng (Standing Mountain Songs from the Western Provinces) on September 2, 2009, at the age of fifty-four.56 He has actively promoted the use of traditional Korean music to proselytize and has composed approximately fifty gospel versions of folksongs in the northwestern tradition of Sŏnsori sant’aryŏng (Standing Mountain Songs), including “Sŏnggyŏng sant’aryŏng” (Mountain song from the Bible) and “Hallelluya sangsadiya” (Hallelujah sangsadiya). According to Yi, it is important to include gospel in traditional music: “There is way too much music that sidelines Christianity in the name of tradition. That’s a real shame, you know. I am going to put all my efforts into fusing traditional music with Christian culture.”57

Even with the ardent efforts of singers like Yi, the potential threat of Christianity to the authenticity of Korean folksong traditions remains negligible, at least for now. Although the scale of Christian activities in this regard is increasing, the number of singers involved is still small. Very few people are likely to mistake the gospel folksongs for traditional folksongs, and many will continue to sing traditional folksongs, including people such as Pak Minhŭi and Yi Munju, whose efforts may serve to promote traditional folksongs as much as their own adaptations. What is more, Christians sing adapted forms of traditional music not only because of their spiritual faith, but, rather, because of a range of sociopolitical pressures, some of which are intermixed with Confucian norms.58

Folksong Terminology

In Korea, many terms have been used to refer to folksongs over the years. While the relatively new term minyo (min = the people, yo = song) is now commonly used by both scholars and non-scholars to indicate either specific genres or folksongs in a general sense, many songs are also—sometimes exclusively—referred to as sori, norae, or t’aryŏng, the latter, however, mostly in direct relation to a (p.64) specific song or repertoire. In literature, other terms, mostly Sino-Korean, such as sogyo (popular song), tan’ga (short poem), and kukp’ung (national custom), have been used in the past but are no longer in use.59 The term minyo was first used by Korean scholars in the second decade of the twentieth century. One of the first collections of folksongs that used the term was Ko Wimin’s 1916 Classification of Korean Folksongs (Chosŏn minyo-ŭi pullyu).60 The term was borrowed from Japan, where Mori Ogai (1862–1922) is believed to have coined it around 1890. Ogai, who studied in Europe, is said to have composed the term by literally translating the German word Volkslied (people’s song).61

Philip Bohlman contends that Johann Gottfried Herder’s (1744–1803) narrow conception of “Volk” as pertaining to the rural, illiterate European peasantry has long marred definitions of folk music.62 As it served to deepen the culture of a uniform, sovereign people, folk music was essential to Herder’s Eurocentric view of a nation as culturally and linguistically distinct—“es hat seine National Bildung wie seine Sprache.” Indeed, the view rejects the notion of (socio)cultural pluralism and ignores the myriad differences in age, class, or region.63 Ko Wimin and his peers presumably chose to use the Korean word for Volkslied to highlight the culture of Koreans who for centuries had been deprived of self-ownership, be it due to China’s past suzerainty over Korea or Japanese colonial rule. The Korean notion of the folk, minjok, was similarly born of opposition to colonial aggression by imperial powers such as China, Russia, and Japan around the turn of the nineteenth century.64 Rejecting Confucian historiography on the basis that it was preoccupied with the lives of the elite, Shin Ch’aeho (1880–1936), a frontrunner of Korean nationalism, rewrote Korean history from the viewpoint of the Korean minjok as an ethnically and culturally unique people, independent from the cultural yoke of Sinocentrism. And true to the vernacularization that is central to Anderson’s conception of “imagined communities,”65 linguist Chu Shigyŏng (1876–1914) found the essence of the Korean spirit to lie in the vernacular script of han’gŭl, which he regarded as key to “ending the habit of aristocratic cultural slavery to Chinese culture.”66 The need for a pure Korean historiography also inspired Ch’oe Namsŏn, one of the main founders of Korean folklore studies. According to Yi Tuhyŏn, Ch’oe played a pivotal role in developing recognition of the Korean people’s unique identity. Following the annexation of Korea, he set out to study the history of the minjok “to advocate Koreanism and resurrect the Korean spirit” (Chosŏnjuŭi purŭjikko, Chosŏn chŏngshin-ŭl puhwalshik’inŭn-de).67 The study of folklore (and folksongs) thus sought to establish a body of knowledge that demonstrated Korea’s cultural independence, even though, ironically, the field of study itself was influenced by the work of Japanese scholars, who like the Koreans had been keen to adopt Western ideas and methodologies including the Eurocentric notion of Volk.68

(p.65) In the 1980s, scholars began using the terms t’osok and t’ongsok to distinguish between local, regional songs and refined, professionalized songs, respectively.69 The distinction between regional and national is a potentially contentious one. Many Koreans care greatly about the region with which people are associated, whether by birth or by choice. That association affects their potential for success in finding employment in the private sector, or, at least since 1987, voters in the public sector. Among the primary reasons often given for the regional divide are the fairly recent Kwangju incident, the regional conflicts from the time of the Three Kingdoms period, and the logistic disadvantage of, in particular, the southwestern provinces located away from major economic trading networks.70 The term t’osok (Jap. dozoku) was first introduced by the Japanese colonial authorities, who used it to refer to the many primitive, uncivilized aspects of Korean culture.71 By the 1980s, however, following major urbanization, t’osok had begun to shed its negative connotation and come to represent a unique, local quality. Since regional associations also imply specific cultural and linguistic specificities, the distinction may have signaled a concern that government regulations regarding folksongs would lead to homogenization and the dilution of their expression of unique, regional identities.72

According to Keith Howard, the two terms were originally used to distinguish between professional and amateur entertainers. He argues that their continued use is not always helpful, because professional and regional, popular (or amateur) folksongs have often influenced each other.73 Hwang Yongju, holder of Sŏnsori sant’aryŏng, uses the terms as measures of folksongs’ regional characteristics: “When they are limited to a certain region, you must call them t’osok minyo, but if the region is quite large, then all the songs that are handed down must be called t’ongsok minyo” (pers. comm., November 18, 1995). Im Tonggwŏn, on the other hand, disliked the terms: “T’osok minyo, t’ongsok minyo, terms like that are used by people who play traditional … or court music, but I have always warned people who play court music about the negative aspects of the terms. Minyo are minyo, and there are no t’osok minyo or t’ongsok minyo within minyo. All minyo are both t’osok and t’ongsok.74 Song Minsŏn, who worked as a folk materials archivist at the Cultural Properties Research Institute, agreed with Im. She argued that the songs should all be called minyo because both professional and regional songs are sung by “the people” (minjung).75 The genres I discuss in chapters 3 and 4Sŏnsori sant’aryŏng, Kyŏnggi minyo, and Sŏdo sori—have arguably retained their local flavor but are also refined and professionalized, so I avoid relying on the terms t’osok and t’ongsok exclusively. What is more, some folksongs that would once be considered t’osok minyo now belong primarily to the repertoire of professional singers.

The term minyo is commonly used by those who do not sing folksongs—often to distinguish them from other types of music. When referring to specific (p.66) songs, singers tend to use sori or norae. The pure Korean term sori, like its Sino-Korean equivalent yo, is mainly found in compound names of folksongs. According to Kim Muhŏn, sori implies a particular function, such as in the numerous kimmaegi sori (weeding songs) and maettol sori (milling songs). He believes that because the term norae, which Ko Chŏngok and Im Tonggwŏn have used, derives from the verb nolda (to play), it is not always appropriate.76 The meaning of the term sori (sound or song), on the other hand, is broad and may have been used in the past to indicate other forms of oral literature. While the word norae can indicate genres such as kasa (narrative songs), shijo (sung poems), and kagok (lyric songs), sori can describe the genres of minyo, chapka (described below), and p’ansori (folk dramatic song).77 Hwang Yongju told me that he used to pronounce sori as sorae, but he adapted to the modern sori for pedagogical reasons:

If … you wonder what they would sound like if we sang the words of the songs the old-fashioned way. … the sori in songs such as ‘Chŏng sori’ (Song of Affection) and ‘Yŏmbul sori78 was pronounced sorae, you see, because our language was like that in the past. Nowadays it’s sori. We now use standard Korean for things like this. We preserve the melody and the rhythm as they were, but it must be a general rule that as far as the language [is concerned], we follow the standard Korean.79

Although the more common term t’aryŏng (song) can still be found in the names of many folksongs, t’aryŏng is not commonly used to indicate folksongs on their own, unlike minyo or sori. Singers from Inji village on the island of Chindo province once told Howard that the term related to songs from the mainland, but according to Chang Sahun the term originally related to songs specifically from the Hwanghae and P’yŏngan provinces.80 Today, it is easy to find it in the names of folksongs from other regions of Korea.81 Well-known examples include songs such as “Arirang t’aryŏng”82 and “Panga t’aryŏng” (Milling Song). Joshua Pilzer argues that the term refers to songs with a shaman origin,83 though this is inconsistent with the consensus that the genre of Sŏnsori sant’aryŏng, discussed in the next chapter, was developed by itinerant Buddhist entertainment troupes.

Another term often used to refer to specific folksongs is chapka. Although the origin of this word is unknown, in written literature its first known appearance, in Kwanuhŭi (Watching the Comic Folk Play) by Song Manjae, dates from the early nineteenth century. At that time it appears to have been commonly used to refer to p’ansori. It was not until the late nineteenth century that chapka began to be used to refer to local folksongs.84 Chapka literally translates as “miscellaneous songs,” but the first character, chap, has a slightly negative connotation. Folklorist Yi Pohyŏng believes the term should no longer be used because the expression chamnyŏn (nyŏn = bitch/tramp) is equivalent to the (p.67) British word “slag.” Today, chapka is commonly used to describe the twelve refined songs from Kyŏnggi province, which as a whole are designated National Intangible Cultural Property no. 57. These so-called shibi (twelve) or kin (long) chapka are sung by seated performers and are thus at times described as chwach’ang (chwa = sitting, ch’ang = singing). Because chapka can also refer to Sŏnsori sant’aryŏng, a genre of professional group songs from the Kyŏnggi provinces sung standing and occasionally referred to as ipch’ang (ip = standing), chapka does not designate a specific singing posture.85 Kim Hŭnggyu’s definition of chapka as “expert” songs, as opposed to folksongs for amateurs,86 is somewhat useful in that it avoids defining the singer or region; but this usage is problematic in that it unnecessarily distinguishes chapka from folksongs on the basis of their alleged degree of complexity. Many folksongs, including the Sŏdo sori discussed in chapter 4, are generally considered very difficult to sing.

One sometimes comes across other terms that denote folksongs, such as those that use the Sino-Korean suffixes-yo and-ka/-ga, which both imply “song” in a general sense and are part of the compounds minyo and chapka. However, perhaps in part due to the impact of Im Tonggwŏn’s extensive collections of folksongs, published in seven volumes as Collections of Korean Folksongs (Han’guk minyo chip) between 1961 and 1995, it appears that the suffix-yo now implies that a song is specifically a folksong. Im explains that, at least in the first volume of his Collections of Korean Folksongs, he uses-yo whenever he believes that the song is not very well known, while he calls songs that are more widely known norae or t’aryŏng.87 The suffix-ka/-ga, meanwhile, can be found in the names of well-known folksongs such as “Sushimga” (Song of Sorrow) and “Sabalga” (Rice Bowl Song), as well as in the general term for shaman songs, muga.

The Modernization of Folksongs

Various factors have played a role in the modernization of folksongs, including Japanese education policy, modernization, and commercialization. Around the time of the annexation of Korea by Japan, the Protestant Church constituted a fourth. When the Japanese police began to strictly enforce restrictions on freedom of speech, the church, which openly renounced the new government, albeit not all from the outset, came to constitute one of few places where people could voice their opinions.88 The musical style of hymns was a prime source of inspiration for what would eventually be known as ch’angga (ch’ang = singing, ga = song), songs based on either European or Japanese melodies that were sung along an eight-bar scale and 4/4 beat that became very popular from around 1905. Yi Yusŏn argues that although the songs were already taught at missionary institutes in Korea in 1886, the term ch’angga was copied from Japan, where the term shōka (= ch’angga) was first used in the Collection of Songs for Primary (p.68) Schools (Shōgaku shōkashū) from 1881.89 “Haktoga” (Student Association Song), which was written by Kim Inshik (1885–1962), Hong Nanp’a’s former teacher, may have been the first ch’angga, though the exact date of its composition is unknown.90 The songs eventually became sung at Protestant homes and primary schools as well. However, as they came to be developed further by Korean writers and composers, many of whom had studied in Japan or the West, their mode and intent changed from edifying to romantic.91

Ch’angga reflected the rapidly changing times, and from the early 1920s, following the patriotic March First Movement of 1919, songs that covertly criticized the Japanese quickly gained popularity. Many of these newly composed songs were called “Aegukka” (Song of Patriotism).92 They expressed patriotism and often glorified the nation, much like “Arirang” and “Han obaengnyŏn” (Five Hundred Years of Sorrow). Yi Yongshik argues that aside from the rhythm and the Japanese pentatonic yonanuki (lit. “omitting four [re] and seven [sol]”) scale typical of enka, the influence of ch’angga on the folksong “Tondollari” is demonstrated by its patriotic content.93 Realizing that the patriotism did not extend to the Japanese empire, the Japanese colonial government eventually prohibited many of them. It also removed them from school music books or replaced them with pro-Japanese versions.94

From the early 1930s, following the decline in popularity of ch’angga, nonpolitical shin minyo (new folksongs) were brought out by Japanese-owned local record companies such as Victor and Okeh.95 While the majority of shin minyo were about romance, including “Kashiryŏmnikka” (Are You Leaving?), the subjects of the songs recorded were diverse, ranging from a woman’s view on married life, as in “Ch’oriptong” (A Young Man with a Straw Hat), to descriptions of sceneries, such as in “Sŭri sŭri pom param” (The Soft Spring Breeze) and “Nodŭl kangbyŏn” (The Nodŭl Riverside).96 The lyrics of the latter song, performed by kisaeng Pak Puyong, were written by the acclaimed singer and comedian Shin Pulch’ul (1906–1976?):

Should I try to tie the waist of fleeting time around the branches that circle down from the spring willow that stands by the Nodŭl97 riverside?

E-he-yo, you cannot trust the spring willow either. That blue water there just keeps flowing.

Our traces in the sand by the Nodŭl riverside have been wiped away so often by all kinds of severe rains and wind.

E-he-yo, you cannot trust the white sand either. That blue water there just keeps flowing.

Blue water of the Nodŭl riverside, did you take with you the precious bodies of talented men and beautiful women? E-he-yo, please come to your senses, and take away all the resentment built up in this world.98

(p.69) Noted male singers of shin minyo included Kim Yonghwan (1912–1948) and Kang Hongshik, while acclaimed female singers included Wang Subok (1917–2003), Yi Ŭnp’a, Sŏn Uilsŏn (1918–1990), and Yi Hwaja (1917–1949).99 They have been rereleased in recent years, for example, on Seoul Records SRCD-1232 (1995), 30-nyŏndae shin minyo (New folksongs from the thirties).

Although the songs were still sung in compound meters (6/8, 9/8, or 12/8) using the vocal timbre typical of traditional folksongs, the lyrics and music of shin minyo were composed by individuals and performed in a relatively fast tempo to the harmonic accompaniment of Western instruments. Chang Yujŏng finds that the term shin minyo is problematic, because it is a poorly defined category that includes a number of yuhaengga (pop songs) and (traditional) folksongs. An example she provides is Kang Hongshik’s song “Ch’ŏnyŏ ch’onggak” (The Virgin and the Bachelor) from 1934, which according to the lyrics sheet included in the sleeve was a “folksong,” but was actually a newly composed shin minyo.100 Since it was already in use in Japan in the 1920s, albeit for a different type of song,101 the latter term is likely to have been imported. Another issue complicating the term is that contrary to the basic definition, the composer of songs labeled shin minyo is not always known. Chang Sahun and Yi Pohyŏng believe, for example, that well-known folksongs such as “Han obaengnyŏn” and “Ch’ŏngch’un’ga” (Song of the Bloom of Youth) are both shin minyo that were composed during the colonial period.102

Referring to the version brought out on records since the late 1920s, Yi Pohyŏng also includes “Arirang” in this category, in the popular and standardized (t’ongsok) form developed from a local (t’osok) song from Kangwŏn province, “Chajin arari” (chajin/chajŭn = fast).103 The basic melody of the song as it is widely known today is as follows:

Defining Korean FolksongsCharacteristics and Terminology

Arirang Arirang, Arariyo. Arirang kogae-ro nŏmŏganda. Na-rŭl pŏrigo kashinŭn nim-ŭn shimni-do mot kasŏ palbyŏngnanda (Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo. We cross over the Arirang pass. My husband who abandons me will get sore feet before he has walked ten li [4 km]).

(p.70) He finds the necessary evidence in the distinctive style of the songs: the use of little vocal vibration, often following a duple subdivision of the beat, rather than the more common triplet subdivision of traditional music, which indicates to Yi an adjustment to Western popular songs that began to occur toward the end of the nineteenth century, when missionaries came to Korea and introduced Christian chant. He believes that many singers changed the melodic style because Koreans regarded Western music as more modern, and therefore preferable: “The origin of ‘Han obaengnyŏn’ is actually ‘Arirang.’ Kangwŏn province’s ‘Kin arirang’ (kin = long) goes like this: A-ri-rang, han-o-baeng-nyŏn sa-ja. But they changed the beat into a two-beat. As for A-ri-rang, this has become a two-beat, a shin minyo.” Yi sang the first phrase for me while loosely clapping four beats per measure:

Defining Korean FolksongsCharacteristics and Terminology

“The melodic line has a Western ‘smell,’ doesn’t it? That’s because something like a Christian vigor, a Christian chant, seeped into it” (pers. comm., September 26, 1995). The influence of Christian hymns on the music of both ch’angga and shin minyo was first argued by Ko Chŏngok. Because shin minyo reflected the times of their composition, an intrinsic feature of folksongs, Ko believed the genre was still representative of the “folk.”104 Despite having been Ko’s student, Im Tonggwŏn would disagree. He believed that folksongs should be defined as songs that have been composed by a group of people with no particular musical skill and not by a single talented person.105

Although most shin minyo have been accompanied by Western instruments during and shortly after the colonial period, when Okeh brought out Pak Puyong’s rendition of “The Nodŭl Riverside” in 1934, the accompaniment on the hit record was comprised of both Western and traditional Korean instruments for the first time.106 Since then, shin minyo began to be “reinvented” by recording companies who increasingly favored ensembles that used traditional Korean instruments. Of great importance with regard to this change are Kyŏnggi minyo singers An Pich’wi, Yi Ŭnju, and Muk Kyewŏl, who adopted a series of t’ongsok minyo, and, arguably, shin minyo such as “Han obaengnyŏn,” “Nodŭl kangbyŏn,” “Arirang,” “Yangsando,” and “Ch’ŏngch’un’ga,” into their standard repertoire from the time they started working for recording companies in the 1940s. By doing so, they arguably followed in the footsteps of Wang Subok, Yi Ŭnp’a, Sŏn (p.71)

Defining Korean FolksongsCharacteristics and Terminology

Front cover of Han Kook Record Co. HC-200055 (1979; cassette tape), Korean Folk Song Vol. 2, featuring, from left to right, Muk Kyewŏl, Yi Ŭnju, and An Pich’wi.

Uilsŏn, and Yi Hwaja, who because of their training in traditional folksongs as kisaeng were able to gain great popularity through recordings of shin minyo in the final decade of the colonial period.107

Because Japanese and Koreans trained in Japan were very much involved in the writing and arrangement of music at record companies, it was only a matter of time before shin minyo became influenced by the similar Japanese enka.108 The first Korean adaptations of Japanese enka were called yuhaengga (yuhaeng = popular), yuhaeng ch’angga, or trot (t’ŭrot’ŭ), a term that derived from the Western dance music of foxtrot, with its relatively fast two-beat rhythm.109 The song “Hŭimangga” (Song of Hope) from 1923, which is also known by its opening line, I p’ungjin sesang-ŭl (This world the wind has covered in dust), is regarded as one of the first examples of this style.110 Yi Yusŏn argues that the genre consists of songs that maintain the direct character of ch’angga, but are more refined.111 Pro-Japanese versions of this type of song would be taught at (p.72) schools from the 1930s, particularly in the lower grades. Like ch’angga, they are characterized by a two-or four-beat rhythm, but have more melancholy in the lyrics and are often imbued with grief over the loss of autonomy and forced relocation.112 The titles of some of the most popular yuhaengga reflect this: “Aesu-ŭi soyagok (Serenade of Sorrow), “Nunmul chŏjŭn Tuman’gang” (The Tear-soaked Tumen River), and “Mokp’o-ŭi nunmul” (Tears of Mokp’o).113 Yuhaengga further developed into con temporary pop ballads, often simply known as kayo (lit. “songs”). They are similar to Western pop ballads in terms of instrumentation, singing style, and presentation, and have been broadcast widely on television and radio since the 1950s.114 Since they involve a light vocal style (with a slightly exaggerated vibrato) and are often accompanied by the simple 2/4 beat of a Western drum set or synthesizer, they are often pejoratively—and at times fondly—called ppongtchak (boom tchak), after the sound of the bass and snare drum.

In this chapter I have described the various forms of folksongs and their terminology, and discussed how a combination of modernity, colonialism, and Japanese music impacted Korean folksongs during the colonial period. In the next two chapters, I deliberate the ways in which the three major folksong NICPs have developed over the years, both before and after their appointment. I explore the history of the folksong genres Sŏnsori sant’aryŏng, Kyŏnggi minyo, and Sŏdo sori, including the tradition of Paebaengi kut. I describe the musical and lyrical elements of the genres as well as their representatives over the years, paying particular attention to how the government has either prevented or encouraged change in the three genres. In chapter 3 I focus in particular on the genders with which the representation of Sŏnsori sant’aryŏng and Kyŏnggi minyo have been associated. In chapter 4 I argue that the tradition of Sŏdo sori will not be broken by the impending loss of native representatives and place, but sustained instead by its ability to evoke nostalgia.


(6.) In a long scene of the quintessential Minjung movie Sŏp’yŏnje (dir. Im Kwon-taek), which came out a year earlier, in 1993, the three protagonists sing this song in its entirety.

(8.) Im Tonggwŏn, Han’guk minyo sa, pp. 13–15, 17–46; “Folksong,” p. 74. The terms used to refer to folksongs have varied considerably over time, but “yo” and “ka” are predominant (Yi Tuhyŏn, Chang Sugŭn, and Yi Kwanggyu, Han’guk minsokhak kaesŏl [Introduction to Korean folklore studies], pp. 321–322).

(15.) Ibid., pp. 53, 64–65. A fictional representation of the channel’s operations can be seen in Ha Kiho’s 2008 comic drama Radio Dayz (Radŭio teijŭ).

(16.) Ibid., pp. 53, 66.

(18.) Tonga ilbo, July 11, 1935, p. 3.

(23.) Pak Sŏnghŭi, I saram ihu, p. 80; Suk-jay Im and Yŏlgyu Kim, “Korean Folk Culture, A Dialogue,” p. 137; interview with Ch’oe Sangil, August 26, 1995; Howard, Bands, Songs, and Shamanistic Rituals, p. 105; Yang, Cultural Protection Policy in Korea, p. 80. As one example, t’osok folksongs are considered inferior, and so when talking about these songs informants may omit base language, a common aspect of many other folksongs as well. Ch’oe Ch’ŏl notes that many of the song collections published throughout the colonial period under the direct or indirect supervision of the Japanese likely suffer from self-censorship (Han’guk minyohak [Korean folksong studies], p. 57).

(25.) By omitting transcriptions of dance and music, as well as details on the informants and the data collected, the value of the collection for the study of Korean folklore is limited. The speed with which recordings were made may have prevented singers from elaborating on songs and from improvising during singing. There are cases in which, on a single day, several singers were recorded in two separate regions or more than thirty folktales from different singers were recorded. See Han’guk chŏngshin munhwa yŏn’guwŏn (Academy of Korean Studies), Han’guk kubi munhak taegye (A compendium of Korean oral literature), 1: pp. 4, 23; 3: pp. 1, 13; and 7: pp. 14, 12. See also Howard, “Minyo in Korea,” pp. 6–7.

(30.) Although the techniques and timbres are similar to those of p’ansori singers, the latter commonly have a broader timbral palette. For more on the timbres of p’ansori singers, see Park, Voices from the Straw Mat, pp. 192–197; Killick, In Search of Korean Traditional Opera, p. 179.

(38.) Im Tonggwŏn, “Kanggangsullae,” p. 219; Pak Sunho, “‘Kanggangsullae’ sogo” (Some thoughts on “Kanggangsullae”), p. 18. The term sŏnch’ang comes from sŏn, which can mean “first” or “standing” (see also chapter 3), and from ch’ang, which means “singing.” Tok in tokch’ang means “solo,” while ap in apsori means “first” or “front.” The term hap in hapch’ang means “all” or “combined,” while che in chech’ang means “altogether” or “in chorus.”

(39.) The scene runs from 1:34:40 to 1:37:47.

(46.) Ibid., p. 116.

(50.) Sasse, “Minjung Theology and Culture,” pp. 29–31. Shin Taech’ŏl argues that the sentiment is not unique to Korea: “It is only one out of many characters. It has been given too much emphasis. … Han is not something only we [Koreans] have. Every country in the world has a history of grief and resentment” (Uri ŭmak, pp. 307–308).

(51.) Frank Tedesco documents several occurrences of Christians targeting the Buddhist faith between 1982 and 1996 (“Questions for Buddhist and Christian Cooperation in Korea,” pp. 184–192). Chong-Ho Kim records a violent attack by Christians on a group of shamans in 1993 (“Cultural Politics or Cultural Contradiction?” p. 40).

(53.) Kim Chongch’ŏl writes that some people consider gospel in the Korean traditional music style as “music for evil spirits” (kwishin ŭmak; see “Chil nop’ŭn uri ch’ansongga pogŭp shigŭphae” [We must urgently popularize our fantastic hymns], p. 37).

(54.) Pak Minhŭi, Kugak ch’anyang (Traditional Korean songs of praise), CD, Digital Records, March 28, 2012.

(55.) The English title is Park Min Hee: Traditional Folk.

(61.) Hughes, “The Heart’s Home Town,” pp. 12–13. For parallel events in Japan—the introduction of the term min’yō and subsequent attempts at defining various terms relating to folksongs, professionalization, government policy, and the like—see Hughes, “The Heart’s Home Town”; “Japanese ‘New Folk Songs,’ Old and New”; “‘Esashi Oiwake’ and the Beginnings of Modern Japanese Folk Song.”

(69.) Song Bangsong, “Chosŏn hugi-ŭi ŭmak” (Music in the late Chosŏn period), p. 370; Han’guk ŭmak t’ongsa (A comprehensive history of Korean music), p. 470; Chang Sahun, Chŏngbo han’guk ŭmak sa (A new history of Korean music), p. 478.

(72.) A precedent for this can be found in Ross King’s study of early 1900s “script nationalism,” which shows that Christians in the northwestern province of P’yŏngan strongly opposed proposals to standardize the Korean orthography on the basis that it did away with historic continuity and tradition and shunned the region’s unique identity (King, “Dialect, Orthography, and Regional Identity,” pp. 146–161, 173).

(74.) Interview with Im Tonggwŏn, September 15, 1995.

(75.) Interview with Song Minsŏn, October 4, 1995.

(78.) Yŏmbul sori is prob ably best described as a Buddhist busking chant.

(79.) Interview with Hwang Yongju, November 18, 1995.

(82.) There are many theories regarding the meaning of Arirang. For a summary, see Kim Chŏmdo, Uri minyo taebaekkwa (Great encyclopedia of Korean folksongs), pp. 305–307.

(92.) The present Korean national anthem, composed by An Ikt’ae in 1936, is also called “Aegukka” (Chang Sahun, Kugak taesajŏn, p. 489).

(93.) Yi Yongshik, “Ch’angga-esŏ minyo-ro.” In Japan, the yonanuki scale was greatly influenced by the introduction of Scottish and Irish music at schools (Yano, Tears of Longing, p. 220n9; see also Pilzer, “The Twentieth-Century ‘Disappearance,’” p. 161n8).

(95.) For more on the history of record companies during Korea’s colonial period, and recordings of traditional music in particular, see Maliangkay, “Their Masters’ Voice.”

(97.) Nodŭl is located in Bon-dong, a small area located in Seoul’s Tongjak District, just south of the river Han.

(99.) Yi Kŭnt’ae, “Shin minyo-ŭi t’ansaeng”; Chang Yujŏng, Oppa-nŭn p’unggakchaengi-ya (My brother is a busker), pp. 68–69. According to Hwang Munp’yŏng, Yi Hwaja lived from 1915 to 1950 (“Yusŏnggi-wa kayo-ŭi yŏkchŏng,” p. 74). The birth and death dates of Yi Ŭnp’a are unknown. Kim Muhŏn argues that Yi Hwaja’s popularity made her “the queen of kisaeng singers” (kisaeng kasu-ŭi yŏwang) (Han’guk minyo munhak non, p. 139).

(102.) Chang Sahun, Kugak taesajŏn, pp. 735, 811; interview with Yi Pohyŏng, September 26, 1995.

(103.) Yi Pohyŏng, “‘Arirang’ sori-ŭi kŭnwŏn-gwa kŭ pyŏnch’ŏn-e kwanhan ŭmakchŏk yŏn’gu” (The origin of “Arirang” and a musicological study of its change), p. 114. A simplified version of the song had already been transcribed in February 1896 by Homer Hulbert, who wrote that even at that time it had been popular for fourteen years running (“Korean Vocal Music,” pp. 49–51). The origins of “Han obaengnyŏn” and “Ch’ŏngch’un’ga” have as yet not been found to go back farther than the colonial period.

(p.192) (109.) The former term seems to have been coined following the publication of a collection of songs called Yuhaeng sogajip (Collection of short popular songs) in 1913. Since then, other names have also been used, including yuhaeng chapka, t’ongsok chapka, and yuhaeng soga (Hwang Munp’yŏng, “Yusŏnggi-wa kayo-ŭi yŏkchŏng,” p. 482).

(114.) An early radio show dedicated to kayo, called Shinjak taejung kayo palp’yo (Newly composed pop song show), was broadcast on June 24, 1948 (Tonga ilbo, June 24, 1948, 2). During the Korean War, a growing number of radio programs were devoted to the new music genre, but none of them were regular. From the mid 1950s, however, the genre began to pervade the airwaves with the emergence of regular kayo programs (see, for example, Tonga ilbo, January 7, 1955, 3; January 18, 1955, 4; January 28, 1955, 4). Because idol K-pop is sometimes also referred to as kayo, in recent years the genre is increasingly referred to as chŏnt’ong (traditional) kayo or trot (Son Minjŏng, T’ŭrot’ŭ-ŭi chŏngch’ihak, pp. 48, 190).