Because Of You (너 때문에) by After School (애프터스쿨): Lyrics, Translation, & Explanation

With apologies for not writing about the positives of Korean popular culture more often, let me present Because of You (너 때문에) by After School (애프터스쿨). It’s one of my 10 favorite Korean songs, and easily their best.

Or at least, DJ Areia’s version of it above is, but I include the original below if you prefer.

The music video however, is a little confusing. Not because it depicts a relationship between 2 women though: admittedly that was a surprise, but in hindsight the lyrics are completely gender neutral. Rather, it’s because there is a man – model Song Jae-lim (송재림) – featured prominently throughout, and it’s not entirely clear who or what he’s supposed to represent exactly. Indeed, with his collage of photos of different members of the group, closed-circuit TV monitoring of them, and finally holes in walls through which to directly spy on them, then “voyeur” or “stalker” is what comes to mind personally, but I’d be surprised if that’s what the creative director intended.

If anyone can explain what he’s doing there then, then please let me know! In the meantime, I hope the translation adds to your enjoyment of the song, and for Korean learners I’ve included detailed explanations in those cases where I came across words or grammar that were new to me personally, or where my (Korean) wife and I had some difficulties. But I’m still quite happy to explain anything else though, and of course may have made some mistakes, so please give me a buzz in either case.

Here goes:

아직도 나 그대를 잊지못해

I never forget boy

I never forget boy

헤어진지 벌써 몇년이 지났는지 몰라

그대 생각만 하면 자꾸 눈물만 흘러

오늘따라 왜 그렇게 네가 보고플까

창밖의 빗소리가 내 맘을 흔들어놔

I still can’t forget you

I never forget boy

I never forget boy

Since we split up, already so many years have passed I’ve lost track

I only have to think of you, and I frequently [end up] crying

Why especially today do I want to see you so much?

The sounds of the rain outside the window pane has gotten my heart beating

Line 5 was the first problem, which my wife and I actually argued about a little (albeit when we were both very tired), because although “만” usually means “only”, according to her it can also mean “whenever” too. And however annoying it is for learners like myself, I do concede that even the simplest of Korean words can have multiple meanings sometime, so although I haven’t encountered that use of the term myself yet, for a while I wisely deferred to her translation of it as “Whenever I think about you”.

But still, it bugged me, as surely “그대 (애대해서) 생각할때 마다”, say, would be a much less ambiguous way of saying that? Hence the result you see above, after resolving which we wisely decided to start translating the next verse in the morning. Unfortunately however, that still left Line 7, which uses the construction of [verb] + [아/어/여 ending] + [놓다].

I wasn’t familiar with that, but I did know [verb]+ [아/어/여 ending] + [있다], which means that “the state resulting from the action of the verb continues to exist” for a short time, and also [verb]+ [아/어/여 ending] + [두다], which basically means to something in that state for a much much longer time (compared to 있다), so it wasn’t difficult to understand this new 놓다 one, which “indicates that the action of the main verb is complete, and is restricted to action verbs”. See page 353 of Korean Grammar for International Learners for more information, an essential reference book which I’d be surprised if anyone still reading by this stage didn’t already have!

사랑하지 말걸 그랬어 정 주지 말걸 그랬어

붙잡지 말걸 그랬어 왜 이렇게 나 혼자 아파

사랑하지 말걸 그랬어 정주지 말걸 그랬어

붙잡지 말걸 그랬어 왜 이렇게 나 혼자 아파

난 항상 너만의 장미가 되려던 내 맘을 아니

이제 조각난 사랑의 마침표가 됐다는걸

눈물이 밀려와 메마른 입술이 젖어

이제 어떡해 그댈 잊을 수 없어

I shouldn’t have loved you, I shouldn’t have given you affection

I shouldn’t have asked you to stay, why am only I hurt so much?

I shouldn’t have loved you, I shouldn’t have given you affection

I shouldn’t have asked you to stay, why am only I hurt so much?

I was always going to be your rose, Do you know my heart?

I know our shattered love’s final end has come

My gushing tears wet my dry lips

Why can’t I forget you now?

In lines 1-3, the construction [verb] + [지말걸] basically means “shouldn’t have [verb], and the “그랬어” just adds emphasis. In Line 1, it seemed simplest just to translate “정” as “affection”, but note that it often means a great deal more than that in group contexts (see here and here). Meanwhile, in Line 7 I changed “밀려오다” from “advancing” to “gushing”, because although the former is technically more correct, in English “advancing tears” really means tears that haven’t arrived yet, whereas in this case the Korean means tears that have arrived, and keep coming like waves on the sea keep advancing towards the shore.

Line 6 though – 이제 조각난 사랑의 마침표가 됐다는걸 – was probably the hardest of the entire song to translate. My logic with “I know our shattered love’s final end has come” was, first, that the sentence is quite literally “Now-shattered-love’s-full stop/period-has come/formed/arrived I know”, with me writing “full stop/period” to avoid anyone confusing “period” with a period of time, when actually “마침표” just means the punctuation at the end of a sentence. But then I decided that “final end” is what it is meant by that surely, and changed it accordingly.

Still, I admit that the sentence as a whole remains pretty strange, as in my experience “shattered love” has already has had “a final end” by virtue of shattering in the first place. Perhaps not so in Korean though?

Next, the chorus:

너 때문에 많이도 울었어 (매일밤 난)

너 때문에 많이도 웃었어 (그대 때문에)

너 때문에 사랑을 믿었어 (woo boy)

너 때문에 너 때문에 모두 다 잃었어

정말 답답답해 갑갑갑해 막막막해 너없는 세상이

내 말을 씹어놓고 자존심 짖밟아놓고

내 맘을 찢어놓고 왜 나를 떠나가

Because of you I cried a lot (every night I)

Because of you I laughed a lot (because of you)

Because of you I believed in love (woo boy)

Because of you, because of you, I lost everything

I am so frustrated, stifled, and lost in a world without you

You ignored what I said and walked all over me

You tore my heart to shreds, why did you leave me?

Most of that was quite simple in contrast. Of course there are many alternatives in English for “닫답하다”, “갑갑하다”, and “막막하다” in Line 5, and the difference between the first 2 in particular is quite subtle. Indeed, although this was the first time I’d ever heard “갑갑하다” myself, my wife tells me that it is so similar to “닫답하다” that it is often used in conjunction with it for emphasis.

Also, in line 6 and 7 there is the [verb] + [아/어/여 ending] + [놓다] used earlier. In Line 6, I decided that “you ignored what I said” was a better translation of “내 말을 씹어” than the literal “you chewed my words”, which sounds quite ambiguous in English. In the case of  “자존심 짖밟아” though, I decided that “walked all over me” sounded the most natural, but the more literal “you trampled over my self-respect” was probably fine really.

Note though, that the last line should really have a “you” or “당신이” inserted, making it  “내 맘을 찢어놓고 왜 당신이 나를 떠나가” or “You tore my heart to shreds, why did you leave me?”. And as I’ll explain, the question of who left whom exactly becomes important a little later.

그날도 비가 왔었지

한참을 그댄 말없이 나를 바라보기만 했어 어어어

흔들리는 눈빛과

애써 짓는 어색한 미소가 이별을 얘기해줘 줘줘줘

It rained that day too

For a long time, you just stared at me wordlessly

Through the light of your eyes and your labored, awkward smile, I realized you were going to split up with me

That’s quite straightforward, so I’ll just continue:

사랑하지 말걸 그랬어 정주지 말걸 그랬어

붙잡지 말걸 그랬어 왜 이렇게 나 혼자 아파

사랑하지 말걸 그랬어 정주지 말걸 그랬어

붙잡지 말걸 그랬어 왜 이렇게 나 혼자 아파

나보고 떠나가라고 할땐 언제고

떠난다니까 어쩌고 미친사람 취급만 해 정말 힘들어 (Boy slooow down)

아무런 말도 못한 채 울어

Cause I want to stay next to you

My love is true Wanna go back to when I was with you

I shouldn’t have loved you, I shouldn’t have given you affection

I shouldn’t have asked you to stay, why am only I hurt so much?

I shouldn’t have loved you, I shouldn’t have given you affection

I shouldn’t have asked you to stay, why am only I hurt so much?

You are the one who told me to leave

After saying that, why did you only treat me like I was crazy? It was so painful and difficult for me

I cried so hard I couldn’t speak

Cause I want to stay next to you

My love is true Wanna go back to when I was with you

The question of who left whom is important because of Line 5, “나보고 떠나가라고 할땐 언제고”. The “보고” in that is just another way of saying “한테”, leaving us with literally “To me-ordered [me] to leave-when you [ordered me]-some day”; not as confusing as it looks though, as it’s just “When you told me to leave someday”. Or so I thought, but in that case the placing of the “언제고” would be different: “”나보고 언제고 떠나가라고 할땐”. And it couldn’t be “Someday, when you told me to leave” either, as the subject marker attached to “when” – “할 땐” – makes that impossible.

I despaired then, and it didn’t help that I thought it was the other person that left the singer(s) either. My wife came to the rescue though, by saying that although the dictionary says “”언제고” is “someday”, it’s also used for emphasizing that someone said something to you, and not the other way round. She also told me that that meant I could omit the “when” too, and hence you the final result “You are the one who told me to leave”.

That still leaves the question of who left whom though, especially as the next line was “After saying that, why did you only treat me like I was crazy?”. My best guess then, is that the ex-girlfriend told the singer(s) to leave, and when she didn’t, the ex-girlfriend left instead, especially given the last line of the song which you’ll see in a moment.

Next is the chorus again though, so I’ll skip ahead to the next verse. And if you haven’t been listening to the remix version, then I highly recommend you at least listen to this section from 2:42 (3:03 in the original), as it’s not for nothing that I said back in May that “the background melodies at that point raise my spirits from virtually any depths, and make me feel like I can conquer the world, even after probably 200+ times of listening to the song”!

I miss you I need you 꿈 속에선 아직도 I’m with you

I miss you (miss you) I need you (need you)

시간을 되돌려 Wanna kiss you again ma boy

맘이 너무 아픈데 견디기 괴로운데

너는 어디서 뭘하니 (나 울었어 참 많이)

너 없인 난 못살아 내게로 돌아와줘 날 떠나가지마

I miss you, I need you, You’re still in my dreams, I’m with you

I miss you (miss you) I need you (need you)

I wish I could go back to then, Wanna kiss you again ma boy

My heart aches, enduring it is so painful

What are you doing now, where are you (I cried so much)

I can’t live without you, Please come back to me, Please don’t leave me

And finally there is the chorus again. Again then, I hope you can all enjoy the song much better now, and if you’re a fan of After School then you may also like to check out my translations of the lyrics to Ah! (아!) and Bang! (뱅!) too. And the Song Lyrics & Translations category in general of course; alas, there’s only 1 song by another artist in there as I type this, but I promise to add many more soon!

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아직도 그대를 잊지못해

I never forget boy

I never forget boy

헤어진지 벌써 몇년이 지났는지 몰라

그대 생각만 하면 자꾸 눈물만 흘러

오늘따라 그렇게 네가 보고플까

창밖의 빗소리가 맘을 흔들어놔

사랑하지 말걸 그랬어

정주지 말걸 그랬어

붙잡지 말걸 그랬어

이렇게 혼자 아파

사랑하지 말걸 그랬어

정주지 말걸 그랬어

붙잡지 말걸 그랬어

이렇게 혼자 아파

항상 너만의 장미가

되려던 맘을 아니

이제 조각난 사랑의 마침표가

됐다는걸

눈물이 밀려와

메마른 입술이 젖어

이제 어떡해

그댈 잊을 없어

너때문에 많이도 울었어 (매일밤 )

너때문에 많이도 웃었어(그대 때문에)

너때문에 사랑을 믿었어(woo boy)

너때문에 너때문에 모두 잃었어

정말 답답답해

갑갑갑해

막막막해

너없는 세상이

말을 씹어놓고

자존심 짖밟아놓고

맘을 찢어놓고

나를 떠나가

그날도 비가 왔었지

한참을 그댄 말없이 나를

바라보기만 했어

흔들리는 눈빛과

애써 짓는 어색한 미소가

이별을 얘기해줘

사랑하지 말걸 그랬어

정주지 말걸 그랬어

붙잡지 말걸 그랬어

이렇게 혼자 아파

사랑하지 말걸 그랬어

정주지 말걸 그랬어

붙잡지 말걸 그랬어

이렇게 혼자 아파

나보고 떠나가라고 할땐 언제고

떠난다니까 어쩌고

미친사람 취급만

정말 힘들어 (보이 슬로우 다운)

아무런 말도 못한 울어

cause i want to stay

next to you my love is true

wanna go back to when i was with you

너때문에 많이도 울었어 (매일 )

너때문에 많이도 웃었어 (그대 때문에)

너때문에 사랑을 믿었어 (woo boy)

너때문에 너때문에 모두다 잃었어

정말 답답답해

갑갑갑해

막막막해

없는 세상이

내말을 씹어놓고

자존심 짓밟아놓고

맘을 찢어 놓고

나를 떠나가

I miss you i need you

속에선 아직도

i’m with you

I miss you (miss you)

I need you (need you)

시간을 되돌려

wanna kiss you again ma boy

맘이 너무 아픈데

견디기 괴로운데

너는 어디서 뭘하니

(나울었어 참많이)

없인 못살아

내게로 돌아와줘

떠나가지마

너때문에 많이도 울었어

너때문에 많이도 웃었어

(많이도 웃었어)

너때문에 사랑을 믿었어

너때문에 너때문에 모두 잃었어

(너때문에 )

정말 답답해

갑갑해

막막해

없는 세상이

말을 씹어놓고

자존심 짓밟아놓고

맘을 찢어 놓고

나를 떠나가

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13 thoughts on “Because Of You (너 때문에) by After School (애프터스쿨): Lyrics, Translation, & Explanation

  1. First of all, very very good translations.

    This is my take on some of the lyrics:
    난 항상 너만의 장미가 되려던 내 맘을 아니 ->항상 너만의 장미가 되려던 내 마음을 아니?
    난 is repetitive. And if you get rid of that, the sentence becomes a question. Did you know of my heart that always wanted to be your only rose? (Rose representing love).
    이제 조각난 사랑의 마침표가 됐다는걸.
    It became the period of a broken heart. “period” sounds weird, so something like “the end” might be a better choice. It became the end (point) of a broken heart. What is IT? It’s her heart that she referred to from the previous sentence. Her heart became the end of a broken heart. 됐다는 걸 shows that it became something. It still sounds kind of weird in English.

    The difference between 조각난 and 깨진 is probably the difference between, broken and shattered. Shattered pieces can’t be glued together, but broken pieces can be glued together. In Korea, you can use 깨진 마음, but it sounds very weird. A 마음 isn’t a “hard” thing that you can 깨트리다. It is a soft fluffy thing that can only be damaged by a stab with a knife or shear force to tear it apart, not by throwing against the wall to shatter it. So in Korea, we would think of a broken heart more than a shattered heart conceptually. Although in English broken and shattered shows a difference in magnitude, in Korea, there are hidden meanings for adjectives that make it awkward to be used to modify certain nouns. In Korea, a broken heart doesn’t always mean the end because it can be put back together.

    나 보고 떠나가라고 할땐 언제고
    떠난다니까 어쩌고 미친사람 취급만 해
    언제고 is an important indication of when it happened. 언제고 means “some time” NOT “sometime.” There’s a big difference. “Some time” represents a specific time. “some” modifying “time.” “sometime” means no specific time frame. Ex) “Let’s get together sometime.” Vs. “Choose some time that fits in your schedule.” Sooooo… You said, “To me-ordered [me] to leave-when you [ordered me]-some day” See? You even put “some day” NOT “someday.” It is repetitive in English to use “some day” like we do in Korean: “some day (in the past), you told me to leave.” Because you assume that you heard that sentence some specific day in the past. “told” is a past tense verb that shows that. If you take out 언제고 from that sentence, it’s going to mean, “나보고 떠나가라고 할때는 – when you tell me to leave.” That has no indication of when it happened. 나보고 떠나가라고 할 때는 내일 일까? Will it be tomorrow that one tells me to leave? 나보고 떠나가라고 할때는 어제였고… Yesterday one told me to leave. 나보고 떠나가라고 할 때는 자리에서 일어나야지 when one tells me to leave I should stand up… etc etc. you can add any phrase following it to change the time when it is/will be spoken.

    Anyway, your translation is correct. “You are the one who told me to leave.” A simple concise representation of what the lyrics mean.

    • Wow Melissa, what can I say? Thank you very very much for all the time and effort you put into that comment, and which I learned a lot from. It’s probably best if I leave my original translation and explanations up as they are though; not that yours aren’t much better of course, but otherwise your comment might get a little confusing for other readers!^^

  2. I’m curious about your thoughts on the group 2NE1, who I would pick as the Kpop girl group that shows the strong, powerful, girl power theme the most.

    They just released their first full album (which is debatable because half the songs on the album were previously released as singles, but anyways…) and announced they will promote 3 songs at once, even releasing music videos for each song this week.

    The first music video: Clap Your Hands:

    The second music video: Go Away:

    The third music video: I believe it’s ‘Can’t Nobody’ and will be released later today.

    Clap Your Hands can be seen as a simple dance video with no storyline, but the general response has been a recognition of strong, powerful dancing from females who are not only fully clothed, but they also don’t have overtly sexy choreography either. I think showing strong, powerful dance moves (hell, even more masculine than what most kpop boybands do) makes the group appear sexy without even trying to be sexy. It’s like watching a sick hip hop routine and calling it hot.

    Go Away is way more controversial and has a divided reaction. There’s one side who, again, sees a strong, girl power image, or at least is convinced of that by the end of the music video. But there are also many viewers who thought the scenes of abuse were unnecessary and actually showed the girl in the video to be weak and taken over.

    I think a reason for the split reactions is not only because for some people scenes of abuse are an automatic no-no, but also because the ending of the music video could be confusing. I don’t know if the ending was set up to be confusing on purpose or if it’s the fault of the people who can’t understand it, but I thought it was trying to show revenge leads to a worse outcome, not necessarily saying the girl lost in the end. The lyrics of the song are clear in that the girl doesn’t want anything to do with the guy and knows he’s a piece of trash, but I guess the music video didn’t make that message clear enough to the viewers?

    • If anyone needs translations

      Clap Your Hands:

      Go Away:

      and the release of the third music video has been delayed one day, according to online reports.

    • Thanks for all information, and probably my own thoughts about 2NE1 are best summed up in this long comments thread here. It’s a little old though sorry (it’s from May), and I kind of switched off from K-pop over the summer (this post represents my attempt to get back into it), so I don’t know enough about all their recent stuff to really comment I’m afraid. I’ll have to get back to you!

      • Yea, I also wasn’t impressed by 2NE1 when they first debuted. Not only were the songs forgettable, but add in the tacky clothes, over the top attempt to be different, and it all seemed too forced. It’s like that feeling you get when you know what you’re eating is artificial. In fact, that’s how I approach all Kpop. Like, you know that artificial cheese on the nachos is gross and bad for your health, and yet you still eat it but with a guilty conscience. I know Kpop is manufactured and artificial, and yet I still listen to it like a guilty pleasure.

        So yea, 2NE1 is manufactured just like all other Kpop groups, especially the ones that come from the Big 3: SM, YG and JYP. But on the other hand, if all the groups are going to be puppets, at least 2NE1 has some kind distinction from the cutesy, sex kitten type of groups. And I honestly believe not only have their songs (starting with I Don’t Care and their solo works like You & I and Please Don’t Go) improved since their debut, but I get less of that poser, wannabe gangsta vibe from them. I still get that they’re promoting themselves as an edgier, strong girl power type of group, but I don’t necessarily feel it’s all that fake coming from them.

        If you ever have some type of open forum (or comment) discussion on kpop girl groups, I would also include Miss A. They’re a new group from JYP (and already, IMHO, more talented than their labelmates, the better known, Wonder Girls) and had a popular song during the summer. Miss A – Bad Girl Good Girl (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaDHtRgXspA). Another rookie group, who I feel are a bit underrated, is Secret. IIRC, they don’t have any number one songs, but part of that is also because they’re not from one of the bigger companies. If they had the kind of promotion and name recognition that comes with being from a bigger company like YG, SM or JYP, I would have no doubt in my mind their songs would have reached number 1 on the charts because they are catchy as hell! LOL! I don’t know much about them at all and I’m still not even sure if I really like them as a group, but I’ve listened to Magic(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJ9JX1PWBDQ) and Madonna (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6qGj_MECdA) on repeat for a long time.

  3. I really thank you very much for writing this blog, that I just found.

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  4. Regarding the marital strife-causing line 5, let me give you my take.
    Of course, typically 만 means only but in this case, it is paired with 면 which gives it the meaning of whenever or as you have translated it “I only have to”…

    I haven’t studied formally so I might be wrong but I think word order is important to definining the meaning as Only or whenever.

    그대 생각만 하면 자꾸 눈물만 흘러
    Whenever I think of that time, I cry (but also cry at other times about other things)

    그대 생각 할때만 눈물만 흘러
    I only ever cry when I think about that time (and on’t ever cry about sick puppies and starving orphans)

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