Embattled United Progressive Party lawmaker Lee Seok Gi created yet more controversy for himself over the weekend by stating that ‘Aegukga’, the South Korean national anthem, cannot be seen as the official South Korean national song because it was not chosen democratically.
Speaking at a meeting with journalists in a Seoul restaurant on the 15th, Lee reportedly claimed, “In America there is a national anthem, but our country does not have one. Our nation has never decided that ‘Aegugka’ is the national anthem.”
He went on, “’Aegukga’ is something that was imposed by the Chun Doo Hwan dictatorship regime,” then asserting that ‘Arirang’, probably the most famous traditional song in both North and South Korea, has the qualities of a true national anthem.
“I’m not saying that we shouldn’t sing ‘Aegukga’,” Lee reportedly concluded, “But imposing the singing of ‘Aegukga’ on people is totalitarianism.”
The move by Lee has since been attacked from both sides of the political divide, with the ruling party pointing out that ‘Aegukga’ was formally enshrined as the national anthem in 2010.
Gyeonggi Province governor Kim Moon Soo was particularly visceral in his dismissal of Lee’s comments, tweeting that, “If ‘Aegukga’ is not the national anthem then you are not a citizen of the Republic of Korea,” and adding, “People who are not citizens of this country should not be National Assembly lawmakers and should disappear to the country that they want to go to. The place where your Suryeong is waiting.”