Korea's national anthem is "Aegukga," which means "Love the Country." In 1896, the Dongnip Sinmun (Independence News) published various versions of lyrics for this song. It is not known exactly what music they were sung to in the early days. Records show that a Western-style military band was formed during the time of the Dae-han Empire (1897-1910) and that the "Dae-han Empire Aegukga" was composed in 1902 and played at important national functions.
The original words of Aegukga appeared in written form around 1907 to inculcate allegiance to the nation and foster the spirit of independence as the country faced threats of foreign annexation. Over the years, the lyrics went through several versions until they were adopted as the national anthem in the present form in 1948.
Before the birth of the Republic in 1948, the words were often sung to the tune of the Scottish folk song, Auld Lang Syne. Maestro Ahn Eak-tay (1905-1965), then living in Spain, felt that it was inappropriate to sing this patriotic song to the tune of another country's folk song. So, he composed new music to go with the lyrics in 1935, and the Korean Provisional Government in exile adopted it as the national anthem. While Koreans outside the country sang the anthem to the new tune, those at home continued to use Auld Lang Syne until Korea was liberated in 1945.
In 1948 the government of the Republic of Korea officially adopted the new version as the national anthem and began to use it at all schools and official functions.