The national anthem of North Korea is “Aegukka” (애국가), which translates literally into “patriotic song.” The song celebrates independence from the end of the Japanese occupation was initially composed in 1945 and officially adopted as the countries anthem in 1947.
History of the National Anthem of North Korea
The North Korean national anthem’s history goes back to the Korean provisional government, which was the partially recognized Korean government in exile during the Japanese occupation-based out of Shanghai. The provisional government had adopted Aegukka as their national anthem to the tune “Auld Lang Syne” which you can listen to here. At the end of World War 2 and the end of the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula, South Korea kept the lyrics of this song but put them to a new tune.
The North adopted a new song using the same name in 1947, which was written by Pak Se-yong and composed by Kim Won-gyun two years prior and has remained the anthem ever since.
It should also be noted that the North Korean national anthem does not carry any reference to the Worker’s Party of Korea or the country’s leadership. Instead, the song celebrates Korea itself as a whole.
Below is one of the earliest recorded versions of the North Korean version of the song:
What Are the Lyrics of the North Korean National Anthem?
The lyrics of the North Korean anthem are the folloing:
아침은 빛나라 이 강산 은금에 자원도 가득한 삼천리 아름다운 내 조국 반만년 오랜 력사에 찬란한 문화로 자라난 슬기론 인민의 이 영광 몸과 맘 다 바쳐 이 조선 길이 받드세 백두산 기상을 다 안고 근로의 정신은 깃들어 진리로 뭉쳐진 억센 뜻 온 세계 앞서 나가리 솟는 힘 노도도 내밀어 인민의 뜻으로 선 나라 한없이 부강하는 이 조선 길이 빛내세
In English, the lyrics translate to:
Let morning shine on the silver and gold of this land, three thousand leagues packed with natural wealth My beautiful fatherland. The glory of a wise people brought up in a culture brilliant with a history five millennia long. Let us devote our bodies and minds to supporting this Korea forever.
The firm will, bonded with truth, nest for the spirit of labour, embracing the atmosphere of Mount Paektu, Will go forth to all the world. The country established by the will of the people, breasting the raging waves with soaring strength Let us glorify forever this Korea, limitlessly rich and strong.
Where Can I Hear the North Korean National Anthem?
You can listen to the North Korean anthem by clicking here.
While on tour to North Korea, you will likely hear the anthem in a few different places. One of the most common places people will hear the national anthem instrumental is the startup and sign off of both Korean state radio and KCTV every day.
If you attend any major events in the country during your tour, such as the mass games, a military parade or a Moranbong Band concert, the anthem will be played before the event commences.
Group bus singing sessions are also a staple of any tour to North Korea, with national anthems almost always making an appearance and the talented guides of the Korea International Travel Company always happy to belt off a near-professional level rendition of their countries anthem at a moments notice.
Outside of North Korea, look for events where North Korea is participating on an international stage, such as the Olympics or other international sporting competitions, and you will hear Aegukka being played just like the anthems of other countries.
Are There Any Other Anthems in North Korea?
Often appearing alongside the National Anthem domestically in North Korea are both of the Song of President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il, such as in the KCTV startup where they follow Aegukka. While not national anthems, these songs carry significant meaning and importance to North Koreans.