Ah! (아!) by After School (애프터스쿨): Lyrics & Translation

After School’s (애프터스쿨) debut track from last year, of which I again include both DJ Areia’s remix above and the original below for you to enjoy while I explain the lyrics. But note that the remix is not actually trance this time, but rather the disco-like “vibrating analog synthesizer sounds and the helicopter-like basslines” of the late-1980s and early-1990s, so please do give it a try if you’re normally put off by dance music.

As for the music video itself, its theme is a little strange: schoolgirls in skimpy clothing coming on to their increasingly flustered young teacher, whom they are very happy to have ‘accidentally’ burst into their locker room later? It sounds…nay, looks like Japanese manga, and reminds me that student-teacher relationships (including dating and marriage) are a common trope of mainstream Korean popular culture (see here, here, and here for example), which only serves to both glamorize and normalize them.

Still, overly hormonal school students do sometimes have crushes on their teachers, and there’s nothing wrong in itself with portraying those in a music video. But while this one does obviously cater more to men’s sexual fantasies than to women’s (would having the group members vying for the affections of a handsome male student instead appeal more to women?), the lyrics demonstrate that there is much more to the song than meets the eye…

Again, for reasons outlined last time, I’ll provide very literal translations:

이렇게 둘이, 너와 단 둘이
언제나 둘이, 달콤한 이야길 하고파 둘이
둘이, 오늘밤 둘이, 사랑해 우리 둘이 둘이 baby

This way the two of us, with you only the two of us

All the time the two of us, I want us to tell a sweet story

The two of us, tonight the two of us, I love you we the two of us the two of us baby

“단” in the first line confused me for a while: it has a dozen meanings, including “bunch” or “bundle” which would (sort of) go with “the two of us”, but ultimately the meaning “only” is the most appropriate here. After that, the “~ㄹ 고파 하다” verb ending in the second line was the first time I’ve ever come across it personally, nor is it in any of my grammar books, but my wife says it simply means “~하고 싶다”, or “want to”.

잘빠진 다리와 외모 너는 내게 반하지
그대를 향한 윙크 한번 내게 빠지지
니 높은 콧대, 내 몸맨 어때
내 앞에선 니 모든게 무너지고 말껄

You have fallen in love with my slender legs and outward appearance

If I wink towards you one time you will fall (further)

The bridge of your nose is high (you have high standards)

How is my body?

Everything about you is going to crumble in front of me anyway

It feels a little hypocritical of me to critique other translations of songs here, as I very much rely on them to try and understand anything I might be having difficulty with myself, and especially because the translators may lack my increasingly annoyed Korean wife to constantly ask questions of in the next room. Nevertheless, those of whomever DJ Areia uses in his remixes (Yeeun2Grace perhaps?) really do seem a little sloppy sometimes (recall the big mistake in the 5th line of Bang!), and certainly disguise the subtlety of the original.

Take the first line for instance: “빠지다” has 13 meanings according to my dictionary, but “sexy” isn’t one of them; rather “잘빠진 다리” are “legs that have lost a lot of weight”, or “slender”. Sure, you could argue that this is just being picky, but it’s just as plausible to think that there is something culturally significant in the fact that “legs that have lost a lot of weight” was said rather than “섹시한다리” for instance, or more literally “sexy legs”. Also, “외모” is not “face”, but is actually the “outward appearance” of your entire body.

Next, putting line 4 as “I know you’ll crumble in my presence” completely ignores the “모든게” (or “모든것” + “이”) in it, or “everything”, and although “I know you’ll fall for me” is fine I guess, the verb ending “~고 말껄” (annoyingly not in any of my grammar books) means more “[the verb] is going to happen anyway”. Hence “everything about you is revealed in front of me” seems much better, as per the translation available on the AfterSchoolPlay fansite (registration required)

Finally, not a translation mistake, but in line 2 annoyingly the meaning of “빠지다” is different to that in line 1; and learners of English complain about the multiple meanings of words!

사랑한다 말만 말고 보여 주겠니
나도 니가 맘에 들어 춤을 추겠니
너와 난 왠지, 자꾸만 왠지
통할 것만 같아, 너를 사랑 할것 같아

Don’t just say you love me, aren’t you going to show me?

I like you too, aren’t you going to dance for me?

You and me for some reason, only again and again for some reason

I think we will only be connected, I think I will love you

My wife tells me that the verb ending “~겠니” in line 1 and 2, again not in any of my grammar books(!), means “aren’t you going to [verb] for me?”, So where on Earth “If I didn’t like you would I dance up on you like this?” below comes from I have no idea, no matter how appealing the thought!

(chorus)

짧은 시간 가까워진 우리 둘 사이
그대와 난 이제 하늘이 맺어준 사이
두말 할 필요 없어, 다가와 내게 어서
조명이 나를 번쩍 비추면
그댈 유혹하는 내 눈빛이 뜨거워지지
다른 남자들은 니가 너무 부러워지지
말은 안해도 난 알잖아 표현 안해도 다 알아
빨개진 니 얼굴이 다 말을 해주잖아

In just a short time we have become close

We are a match made in heaven

We don’t need to say it twice, come to me

If a light suddenly shines on me

It heats up the light of my eyes that is seductive to you

And other men become very jealous of you

You don’t have to say it or show it in your expression, I know everything

You red face shows it all

Not much to say here actually, other than both the translators at Yeeun2Grace and AfterSchoolPlay separated the above into two verses between lines 4 and 5. But I think that was mistaken, as line 4 ends in “비추면” or “if the light shines (on me)”, which is why the singer’s seductive eyes light up in the line 5. Lacking that connector, then I think that their own versions of line 4 and line 5 – “I’ve been illuminated by the light… You see my burning seductive eyes” and “When the lightning strikes me…My eyes which are putting him into temptation are becoming hotter”  respectively – don’t really make any sense.

(chorus)

나나나~

After school in the house, 모두 같이 make it bounce
들어봐 지금 내 말, 오늘밤 tonight
다가와 말못했던 얘기, 우리 둘만의 작고 작은 속삭임
그래 넌 지금 날 너무 원하지, 가벼운건 싫어 내 모습이
다른 장소 after party, 걱정마 이런 내 스타일에
오늘밤은 후회안해, 내 맘을 뺏어봐 baby boy

(chorus)

Na na na~

After School in the house, everybody together make it bounce

Hear my words now, this night tonight

Come to me, and all the things you (we?) couldn’t say, all the little whispers we said only to each other

Yes, you really want me now, I (you?) don’t want just light stuff

Different place after party, don’t worry this is my style

Don’t regret tonight, try to take my heart baby boy

Again, the Korean seems pretty straightforward here. On a final note then, given how targeted it is towards male audiences I was very surprised not to find any screenshots of the music video either via Korean or English search engines, leaving me with the onerous task of producing my own. Despite the visuals however, the lyrics in this debut song are clearly just as much about girl-power and being confident and assertive as they were in Bang! a year later, so the possibility remains open that After School may actually have a sizable female fan base (and I rather hope that they do).

In light of that then, you imagine what I thought of three members’ most recent song in which they pour on the aegyo (애교), basically looking and behaving like 12 year-old girls. Like I said in the comments to a post about it at SeoulBeats:

I’d have to give it a thumbs down. Not so much for the music in itself, but because I’ve always liked After School for the assertive, confident, girl-power theme of their songs, and so this “candy coated aegyo overload” as you well put it really seems to dilute their brand.

And most other commenters there agreed with me. But what do you think of it? Feel free to disagree with me of course, and diversity is the spice of life and all, even for music groups. But still…

(Source)

As always, thanks in advance for pointing out any mistakes I may have made or providing alternative translations!

16 thoughts on “Ah! (아!) by After School (애프터스쿨): Lyrics & Translation

  1. Thanks for your translations! As some one who is learning Korean it really helps to go through it step by step like you do.

    One thing I’m not clear on, “The bridge of your nose is high” is a way of saying that you have high standards in Korean? I guess this is in the similar to 눈이 높다 which means directly high eyes, but means to be picky.

    As far as Orange Carmel is concerned, I totally agree that they are cuteness overload. The song is bad, and the acting in the music video is bad. It is definitely not the image that After School is going for, which is why they formed this sub group. I’ve found that in Korean pop music, Korean fans rarely relate the sub groups or the solo projects to the original group, especially if it’s bad. The Kpop music industry is really good at what it does. It forms groups that have members representing a certain thing. (The Good Girl, The Sexy Girl etc.) These side projects usually just enforce that image, so the overall image of the group doesn’t change.

    • You’re welcome, although actually I don’t know anything more than you about the phrase “높은 콧대; I just assumed it was similar to “눈이 높다” like you said.

      Good to hear that Koreans rarely relate the sub groups and so on to the main band, and indeed the consensus of the K-pop blogosphere is that this particular mini-album may have actually been designed more with J-pop fans in mind. Unfortunately though, this cutesy crap is actually proving to be quite popular!

      • It actually means sort of to think highly of yourself, similar to being “stuck up” in English (is that only British english?).

        In the other, more literal sense of it, it means to have a high nose bridge – Koreans often complain about having a “flat nose,” which is the opposite of this. What a Korean would call a “high nose” is what English speakers would call a prominent nose.

        • Oh really? Thanks for the clarification, although being British myself, I find it difficult to separate that word from all the class-based associations with it unfortunately….or at least, “you’re very stuck up” sounds a little strange to me in that song. How would you translate it? (I defer to your better ability!)

          • Erm, I suppose I’d translate it as someone who thinks highly of themself. It could be extended to having high standards, but only in the sense that they think so highly of themself they feel that other people would have to be “worthy.” Just my take on it, mind ;)

  2. I’m disappointed in the sub-group as well.. More than just a wasted opportunity for a good song, it’s a bad omen that maybe the scene will get more of that pre-teen-sounding j-pop girl group-inspired fluff! It’s been very fortunate to have little of that, although part of the joy of that is the fact that there aren’t any literally very young groups in k-pop topping charts. Like 12, 13 year olds. Which, again, is a plus.

    Some people actually thinkk it’s plagiarized, falling in line with recent scandals: http://www.omgkpop.com/2010/06/19/orange-caramels-magic-girl-is-plagiarized/

    I don’t think it’s the same song, but it underlines its aim of going for j-pop cutesy aesthetics.

    • so…I haven’t been in korea long but I feel like I’ve read so much about plagiarism here..singers and idols copying others… why is that? I was reading how they don’t write their own music, but shouldn’t their composers or the big people who do business for them make sure that it’s not copied so they don’t lose face?

      • Oh, you’re very much preaching to the converted here, although I don’t really what I can say in reply sorry! If you’re interested and haven’t read them already though, then plagiarism in Korean music is mentioned a few times in the surprisingly long comments thread in this recent post, and back in August last year I wrote about plagiarism in Korean advertising.

  3. I had heard that After School was supposed to be the korean PCD so after reading your translation I was wondering what you thought about the new subgroup…
    I agree with you.
    Seriously I don’t understand it… Are they trying to please everyone? It’s true that the girls in the subgroup are all new girls… Maybe the marketing team thought it would be better to make them debut with After School and then debut this subgroup…

  4. i’m a fan of After School and i can’t stand Orange Caramel at all. i thought the name was odd when i first heard it but after seeing the concept pictures i knew i didn’t want anything to do with Orange Caramel. despite my initial misgivings, i attempted listening to ‘Magic Girl’ but never finished watching the mv.

  5. well..the name itself says a lot “Orange Caramel” seriously…. who comes up with that? And I’m a little embarrassed for these girls…they are so cute, it’s annoying! I can’t stand it. I also tried to watch the music video and never finished it…ew.

    I’m not a big fan of any kpop.. 2ne1 was ok.

    Hyori was good till I found out all the songs were plagiarized!

    Get rid of the cutesy image OC!

  6. The young ladies of KPOP are very beautiful and talented.
    BUT by chance I came across a Korean women by the name of Sohyang who is a singer, mostly, of Christian type songs.
    Her english is excellent and I was wondering if anyone knows anything about her?
    I did google her but found scant information on her…

  7. I was just looking for a direct translation when I came across this one.
    Though I’m not studying Korean it still came across to me as interesting to know the various nuances of a seemingly straightforward song.
    Thanks <3

    • You’re welcome, and sorry that some of the videos weren’t working when you read it, and that a theme change since the post was written may have made some the text a little difficult to read. I’ve fixed both :)

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