Page 1 of 1

우정의 노래 / The Stein Song (or: Why is my alma mater a hit song in South Korea?)

Posted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 9:07 pm UTC
by ivnja
I did both my undergrad and graduate work at UMaine, where the school song is the Stein Song, which Rudy Vallee made a #1 hit in 1930 (the lyrics kick in around 1:15 after a long intro). My grandmother, who is in her late 80s, doesn't remember much anymore, including her own university's alma mater, and never had any connection to UMaine itself until I came along, but she immediately starts to animatedly hum along with the tune whenever I play it. It's catchy, and obviously at one point it was very popular across the US.


Today, YouTube brought me to THIS and THIS. I'm...baffled, yet delighted. I have no idea how a college drinking song that was a hit in the US in the 1930s is now being performed by men in tuxedos and women in gowns in packed stadiums in South Korea over eighty years later. And the singers and crowds are getting way into it! Google translates 우정의 노래 to "a song of friendship." I don't know any Korean, so I don't know for sure if they're using any of the original words or just the tune (I do have to assume they're probably not drinking "to Maine, our alma mater" in any case), but a search for 우정의 노래 yields pages and pages of Korean video and audio recordings of the tune, and many have kept "Stein Song" (in Latin script) in the title, even on Korean websites. I've only found one recording that is actually done in English, and that one is a straight version of the Stein Song ("let every loyal Maine man sing," etc).

It turns out that a few folks from UMaine did notice this phenomenon a couple years ago, so there are a handful of blog-type posts and a four-comment Reddit thread about it, but nobody seems to have a good answer for how our little ditty got to be such a big thing halfway around the world from its origin. Putting 우정의 노래 into youtube gives 36,000+ results, and at least on the first several pages every one that I checked is the Stein Song, performed in stadiums, concert halls, university stages, a church (seriously), wedding receptions...the song obviously has some cultural importance at this point.

With the language barrier, I've more or less hit the end of my searching ability. Questions I still have:
  • What are the Korean lyrics (or more helpfully, their English translation)?
  • When did the tune make the jump to Southeast Asia? WWII and/or the Korean War would make sense, but that's 1-2 decades after the Stein Song was a hit in the US
  • Why is 우정의 노래 so important/popular in South Korea today?

If anyone has any insight, I'd be super grateful.

**Edit: I just found this video that has the words to the Stein Song in English on the screen behind the singers, and the Korean lyrics sound to my untrained ear to be the same as in the rest of the 우정의 노래 maybe it is a direct translation after all?

Re: 우정의 노래 / The Stein Song (or: Why is my alma mater a hit song in South Korea?)

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 1:12 pm UTC
by Sableagle English to Korean "lyrics" to 가사

Search for 가사 우정의 노래

URL among first results: ... 8%EB%9E%98

Seems like it might be a website for Korean lyrics.

아가페 남성 합창단 - 우정의 노래
소리높여 외쳐라
하늘이 떠나가게
손에 손을 맞~잡고서
다함께 노래 부르세 (차!)

잔을 가득 채워서
축배를 높이 드세
여기 다시 모인 친구
정다운 나의 친구여

우정을 위하여
우리 다 함께 이 잔을 드세나

사랑을 위하여
우리다함께 이잔을 드세나

미래를 위하여
우리다함께 이잔을 드세나

운명의 여신은
우리 웃으며 반기리라

Back to

Agape Male Choir - Song of Friendship
Shout and shout
Leave the sky
Holding hands by hand
Sing it all together (tea!)

Fill the cup.
Increase the toast
Here's your friend back
My dear friend

For friendship
We all share this cup together.

For love
Let us all be together.

For the future
We are all together.

The goddess of destiny
We are smiling and welcoming.

The backstory I can't provide, but those may be the lyrics.

Re: 우정의 노래 / The Stein Song (or: Why is my alma mater a hit song in South Korea?)

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 2:37 am UTC
by ivnja
Thanks, that does get me partway there. I'm sure the autotranslation is a bit iffy, but it's definitely enough to tell that a) those aren't the same lyrics, but b) they're thematically not all that different. Drinking (something) to friendship, fellowship, a bright future, etc.