Proschanie Slavianki

When I was in high school (1948-54), North Korea was affiliated with the Soviet Union, but South Korea was on the American side. The Proschanie Slavianki was known as the Soviet Army March No. 5 at that time. Thus, it was strictly forbidden in the South. How could I pick up this music in the South?

  • Korea, both north and south, was one country. At the end of World War II, Soviet troops moved into the North while Americans came to the South. The Soviet-backed communists in the North did not like Korean Christians and landlords. Thus about two million Koreans had to move to the South. I am one of those two million Koreans who had to settle down in the South. When they came down, they brought with them two Soviet items. One was the FED camera. It was just like the Leica camera made in Germany. The other was the music book of the Proschanie readily available from Soviet authorities. This music had a great appeal to Koreans.

    There were many refugees from the North in my high school. We took photos with the Russian FED cameras. The school band played the Proschanie Slavianki every morning, but South Korean authorities did not know it was an enemy music. They thougt it was an American military march. Among the informed students, it was a "Roskei" march. Out of my nostalgia toward my high school days, I listen to this music every morning from the tape player on my car.

    Before I obtained a CD (chorus version) and a tape cassette (band version) in 1995 and 1999 respectively from my Russian friends of Korean origin, I heard this music only once in the United States, while watching a Soviet movie entitled Letyat Zhurabli (Cranes are flying) in 1960. I have a story to tell about this movie. You may click here for the scene of this movie where this music is played.

  • Here is a note (2005.1.22) from my ex-classmate who, like me, used to listen to this music every morning.

    What a joyous rediscovery and nostalgic delight it is to hear it once again after 55 years, this Proschanie Slavianki! Thanks to you for this singular pleasure and the identity of the music that I did not know but whose melody has been replaying in my head over and over all these years. This is not a ghost from the past speaking but your onetime buddy of our youthful days. As I was reading our Seoul High 50th anniversary book I got just yesterday, your talk of this march struck me like a lightening and I jumped with the hunch that it might be the march that kept replaying in my head all these years and bugged me as to what the heck it was. I never bothered then to find out what it was that our band played every morning, nor have I ever heard it played or over the air since then. Now that I know its identity, no wonder it isn't heard in the US, at least by me and probably by just about anyone except you. Though it is a march, it is unlike all other marches in that it is in minor key with typically Russian melancholic melody, another example being 'March Slav' by Tchaikovsky. Probably it is precisely that quality which haunted me and stuck in my head so strongly along with other more famous music from my teen years and before. Perhaps it is the same with you.

    This friend of mine is a medical doctor practicing in Los Angles. He is a violinist of some degree. He has been playing violin since his childhood. While in high school, I learned from him many things about music. Here is my photo with him taken in 1957.

    He sent me this letter after reading my article in a book published in 2004 in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of our high school graduation in 1954. my high school

  • I used to look like this when I was a high-school student in Korea. In this 1954 photo, I am shaking hands with General Maxwell Taylor, the commander of the U.S. Forces in Korea. Under him were 350,000 combat-ready US troops. In 1962, General Taylor was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs under the Kennedy administration, and was in charge of the military planning during the Cuban missile crisis which included a a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union.

    In 1945, I was in an American-influenced village called Sorae, which was occupied by Soviet troops immediately after World War II. They were wearing uniforms looking like this. I took this photo while visisting Moscow's Arbat Street in 1990.

    In 1994, I was attending a conference held in Minsk. The meeting took place in a Russian military base which used to serve as the conference center for the Warsaw Pact (counterpart of NATO during the Cold War era). There, I met many warm-hearted Russian soldiers and officers. It was a real pleasure for me to mix up with them and exchange gifts.


    Dear Professor Kim,

    Thank you for the fascinating story about the Russian song. I am very interested in the Russian language, although I am a computer scientist. (I'm barely able to read cyrillic, without understanding what's written.) So, I looked up on the web about the song.

    This google cache gives a good history of the song:

    Unfortunately, the original page seems to have been taken off of the internet. On the page, mentions an interesting Korean connection that you might enjoy:

    Curiously, the march continues to carry its anthem aura even now that the the official Russian hymn has been adopted. During the greeting ceremony in Seoul in March 2001, President Putin was greeted first by the two official anthems of Russia and South Korea and immediately afterwards by Proshchanie slavianki.

    I also found this excellent mp3 of the same song at
    linked from the following Russian page:

    The link is very slow, so it can take up to 40-50 minutes even on a broadband connection, but it is well-worth the wait because of the superior sound quality. The file size is about 2.1MB.

    A shorter version with just the instruments can be found at:

    Finally, here's an English page about the composer of the song with some background information:

    Hope you find these helpful.


    Yoonsuck Choe
    September 17, 2003

    From Mon May 17 01:32:39 2004
    Date: Sat, 1 May 2004 23:34:03 -0400
    From: Sergey
    Subject: Proschanie Slavianki

    Dear Mr. Kim:
    I found your web site ( when I was looking for a music..... Needless to mention that your web site is a very interesting project which has reflection of your ideas and your vision of the world. Meanwhile, I would like to thank you for a music file of "Soviet Army March No. 5" (Proschanie Slavianki). This unforgettable music was written in 1912 in Tambov town. Vasiliy Agapkin, 28-year old cavalry orchesrant wrote this music. He become a Soviet army officer after time was passed by and that is why everybody knew this music as "Soviet Army March No.5" I found this information here: May be it will be interesting for you.
    Thank you again many times.
    Sergey Lyssyak

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