"Aegukga," or "The Patriotic Song," is the national anthem of the Republic of Korea (South Korea).  I practiced the song tonight to prepare for the Fourth of July extravaganda scheduled tomorrow evening in honor of U.S.’ Independence Day.  I thought it was time to change the song on my blog, and I think it’s a pleasant tune, so I posted the song here.  The song you hear (if your computer has speakers and the sound is turned on) is "Aegukga."  It may seem oxymoronic to practice the Korean national anthem in anticipation of the U.S. Fourth of July, but as is customary during official events, the anthem of the host country is sung along with the "Star Spangled Banner," the national anthem of the United States.  For those of you who suspect I have gone native by posting the Korean national anthem on this blog, don’t worry–I’ll change it to another song when I get around to it.
Wikipedia has an exhaustive description of "Aegukga," its origin, history, and lyrics.  It also has an extensive description of the "Star Spangled Banner" and how the music originated from the anthem of the Sons of Anacreon.  Interestingly, "Aegukga" is also the name of the national anthem of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).  The music and lyrics sound slightly different but vaguely familiar (surprisingly, the North Korean version makes no adulating reference to the Kim family).  I think national anthems and their checkered histories are fascinating.  For example, the lyrics to "Aegukga" were allegedly written during the pro-independence movement of the 1900’s, just prior to the Japanese colonial period.  The lyrics were originally sung to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne," that is, until Ahn Eak-tae, a Korean musician who lived in Spain during the Franco regime composed the current tune.  "Aegukga" was formally adopted as the Korean national anthem by the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai, China.  "Arirang" is a better known Korean folk song, and it is a fierce rival to "Aegukga" in capturing the spirit of the Korean people.  Likewise, Americans continue to debate whether "America the Beautiful" should have been adopted as the U.S. national anthem.
Blog Notes:  The 2006 Tour de France opened yesterday without legendary, seven-time winner Lance Armstrong, who retired last year.  Also noteworthy is that two of his biggest rivals who were expected to compete for this year’s yellow jersey, Ivan Basso of Italy and Jan Ullrich of Germany, are sitting out this year’s Tour now that they have been implicated in a doping scandal.  In an ironic twist of fate, Armstrong–who was often accused of doping by the French media–retired scandal-free, and two Americans, George Hincapie and David Zabriskie, emerged as potential Tour winners after Basso and Ullrich were barred from this year’s Tour.  In even wackier news, my sentimental favorite to win football’s World Cup changes with each passing day.  Paraguay, United States, Korea, all gone.  Ghana, gone.  England, gone.  Now I have to root for Portugal, the only Portuguese-speaking country left in the tournament (bye bye Brazil!).  Will Portugal win the Cup?  Not likely.  It looks like the Cup is Germany’s to lose.  The home team has won one third of all World Cup championships.

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