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Exhibiting Arirang

Author(s): Kunwook (Vanya) Lee

Journal: International Journal of Intangible Heritage
ISSN 1975-3586

Volume: 7;
Start page: 123;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Arirang | folk song | popular culture | communities | Korea | personal stories | museum exhibition | audio visual resources | ethnicity

Arirang is best known as a type of Korean folk song. But it is more than just a simple folk song. It is a kind of cultural phenomenon that embodies people’s lives and everyday activities. The National Folk Museum of Korea recently curated a special exhibition about Arirang to reconsider the meaning of this song which so many Koreans take for granted. In the exhibition we presented both historical materials and everyday products related to Arirang, and we also introduced sound resources. These were not only recordings of the songs performed by professional singers, but also recordings of Arirang songs sung by ordinary people, documented region by region. We collected personal stories and accounts of what Arirang means, and these too were edited into audio-visual forms to be exhibited. Certain regional groups that co-operated in collecting materials for the exhibition were invited to give performances themselves. The performances by people who put their own experiences into the Arirang lyrics were especially popular with audiences. The exhibition was important for the future in that we gained new experience in utilising tangible and intangible materials possessed by communities which are transmitting a certain kind of intangible heritage.

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