The Korean composer Ahn Eak Tai (안익태, 安益泰) is not well known in the west. He is known here in Korea, mostly because he wrote the music for the national anthem. He is also remembered as a patriot, as he took part in the March First Independence Movement as a student. Because the study of Western music was in its infancy in Korea, Ahn subsequently finished his education in Japan, the USA, and Europe. In fact, he garnered something of a reputation for himself in Europe. He conducted many of Europe’s prestigious symphony orchestras and a few in the USA as well. He met and married a Spanish woman and died in 1977 in Majorca. His family continues to reside in Spain.
Before Ahn’s majestic setting of the Korean national anthem, it was sung to “Auld Lang Syne”. Ahn rightly thought this to be a travesty. He composed a much more magnificent melody which does justice to the words. The melody also made its way into his Symphonic Fantasia “Korea”. Here, Maestro Chung Myung-hun conducts the KBS Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Ahn’s work.
For your reference, here’s the national anthem of the Republic of Korea, the Aegukga (愛國歌).