Japan’s attempts at obliterating Korean music

December 25, 2022

After their military occupation of Korea, the Japanese imperialists started to stamp out the national music of Korea with long-standing traditions in a bid to obliterate the soul of the nation and make the Koreans “imperial subjects”. 

What they regarded as their major target in obliterating Korean music were progressive songs and singers, direct diffusers of the songs.

They tried in every way to prevent the singers from singing the songs reflecting the national spirit of the Korean people. 

A typical example is that they forbade the singing of Balsam and other songs full of national sentiments, arguing that such songs would instil the national spirit into Koreans and stir up anti-Japanese sentiment and thereby hamper their colonial rule. 

The Japanese imperialists also issued an order to prohibit the singing of Arirang widely known to Koreans, checked the diffusion of any songs disagreeable to their feeling even a bit or comprising anti-Japanese elements and mercilessly clamped down on the singers who spread such songs to the people.

After arresting a singer who was popular with the masses for singing well Deprived Native Place, a folk song of the northwestern provinces of Korea, they inflicted every kind of barbarism on the singer to kill her in jail in the end.  

In addition, they desperately tried to spread reactionary songs aimed at paralysing the sound ideological consciousness of Koreans and infecting them with decadence, hedonism, vanity, pessimism, degeneration and non-resistance. 

The Japanese imperialists allowed Koreans to sing their folk songs to the extent they tolerated. And in that case, the former coerced the latter into singing them in Japanese and ruthlessly arrested and jailed disobeyers.   

From the latter half of the 1930s the aggressors had all Korean songs put on records in Japanese, making it impossible for Koreans to freely sing songs reflecting the thoughts and feelings of the nation. 

The obliteration of Korea’s national music was a product of the Japanese imperialists’ vicious schemes to paralyse the ideology and spirit of the Korean people, and Japan will never be able to evade responsibility for the past crimes.  


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