Bad Girl, Good Girl (배드걸 굿걸) by Miss A (미쓰에이): Lyrics, Translation, and Explanation

(Source)

Having just written that I find new girl groups virtually indistinguishable from each other these days, then I’m very glad reader “abcfsk” persuaded me to take a closer look at Bad Girl, Good Girl (배드걸 굿걸) by Miss A (미쓰에이), as I grew to like it very quickly. And not just because of the eye-candy in the music video below either, which I actually deliberately avoided watching so as to better compare my own translation of the lyrics to the one there later.

But hell: taken from a zip-file available here, in hindsight the screenshots below didn’t really do justice to the eroticism of some of the dance moves. And which to be frank, made finally seeing the video itself almost feel like a reward for all my hard work.

No great surprise to learn that Park Jin-young (박진영) is their manager then, as he is notorious for that sort of thing. Granted, that is the way the whole Korean music industry is going these days, primarily as a means for new groups to stand out, but those groups under the JYP Entertainment label do seem to push the boundaries more than most.

Focusing on the lyrics for now though, here’s my own original translation of them, with explanations of those parts I found difficult:

Update - In case anyone’s confused, the original video with lyrics included has been deleted.

You don’t know me, you don’t know me

You don’t know me, you don’t know me

So shut up boy, so shut up boy

So shut up boy, so shut up, shut up

앞에선 한 마디도 못 하더니

뒤에선 내 얘길 안 좋게 해 어이가 없어

Hello, hello, hello

나같은 여잔 처음 으로 으로 으로

본 것 같은데 왜 나를 판단하니

내가 혹시 두려운거니

You don’t know me, you don’t know me

You don’t know me, you don’t know me

So shut up boy, so shut up boy

So shut up boy, so shut up, shut up

In front of me you can’t say a word

And I can’t believe the bad things you say about me behind my back

Hello, hello, hello

I think this is the first time you’ve ever met a woman like me…why do you judge me?

Am I a thing to be feared?

(Source, all screenshots: Red and Rosy)

Starting with Line 1 of the Korean after “shut up” etc., the “더니” in “하더니” has many usages according to page 277 of my reference guide, Korean Grammar for International Learners (KGIL), but I think the most appropriate is number 1, that which “allows the speaker to affirm that some fact which (s)he directly experienced or witnessed in the past about a third-person subject is the reason or source for the state of affairs in the follow clause…the subject is usually second or third person”.

That allows the fact that the unnamed man (her boyfriend?) is reticent in front of her to be linked to line 2, that he badmouths her behind her back. But which was actually much more difficult to translate than it looked, as “뒤에선 내 얘길 안 좋게 해 어이가 없어” is literally “[me] behind as for – my story – not well do – word – not have”, which sort of looks like what I ultimately wrote, but was ripe for misinterpretation. Once my long-suffering wife told me that “어이가 없어” actually means “I can’t believe” though, then I was able to muddle along.

In line 6, the “거니” in “두려운거니” isn’t in KGIL, but I think it’s shorthand for “두려운것이에요”, or “scary thing is”. Hence I used the noun form “am I a thing to be feared?” in my translation, but of course something like “are you scared of me?” would be fine too.

Now for the chorus:

겉으론 bad girl 속으론 good girl

나를 잘 알지도 못 하면서

내 겉모습만 보면서

한심한 여자로 보는 너의 시선이 난 너무나 웃겨

춤 출 땐 bad girl 사랑은 good girl

춤추는 내 모습을 볼 때는 넋을 놓고 보고서는

끝나니 손가락질 하는 그 위선이 난 너무나 웃겨

On the outside I’m a bad girl, on the inside I’m a good girl

While you don’t know me well

While only looking at my outward appearance

Thinking of me as a pathetic woman is so laughable

When I dance I’m a bad girl, but when it comes to love I’m a good girl

When you see me dance you lose your mind

Only then to scorn me when the dance is ended

I laugh at your hypocrisy

In line 1, I was surprised that “으로” was used instead of “에”, as I’d always thought the former was used mostly for directions and processes rather than physical locations, but my wife assures me that the latter can’t be used at all in this case (oh well). She also told me that in line 4, “pathetic” would be a much better translation of “한심하다” than the “pitiful; pitiable; wretched” and so on that my dictionary gave; that in the case of line 6 at least, “모습” really means just “me” rather than “outward appearance” or “figure”; and finally that “넋을 놓고 보다” means “to lose one’s mind”, which I would never have got figured out otherwise. I did realize that “보고서” at the end looked a bit weird though – “a written report” – and ultimately the “고서” in it turns out to be one more grammar pattern. Which according to p. 251 of KGIL, has the effect of:

…tightening the relationship between the preceding and following clause, and implying that the contents of the second clause are a natural and closely linked follow-on to those of the first. In other words, whereas “고” alone is appropriate when a long interval intervenes between the two clauses, “고서” is appropriate when the connection is more immediate”.

Finally in line 7, of course “끝나니” is short for “끝나니까”, or “because it finished”. Add “scorn” and “hypocrisy” in there as well, then whatever the particulars of the last 2 lines, I got the impression that the man is captivated by her dancing, but then scorns and thinks little of her as soon as she stops and the spell is broken. Hence laughing at his hypocrisy, although now I’m little confused about the narrative of the song as I type this, as by this stage at least I thought the whole point was that she shouldn’t be judged by her outward appearance and actions…whereas now it appears that they’re actually also her strong points.

이런 옷 이런 머리모양으로 이런 춤을 추는 여자는

뻔해 ha 네가 더 뻔해, 오~

Hello, hello, hello

자신 없으면 저 뒤로 뒤로 뒤로

물러서면 되지 왜 자꾸 떠드니

속이 훤히 보이는 건 아니

A woman with those clothes, that hairstyle, and doing that dance

is shameless? Ha! You’re even more shameless, oh~

Hello, hello, hello

If you have no confidence, you can step back back back there

Why do you frequently make so much noise complaining about me?

I can see right through you

In line 4, I was a little confused for a moment by “저”, which is short for “저기” or “there” rather than being the respectful form of “me”. And then by “자신 없으면 저 뒤로 뒤로 뒤로 물러서면 되지” in lines 4-5, which literally means “confidence – if not have – there – towards the back towards the back towards the back – if step back” and looks like an unnecessary and confusing repetition to me.

Finally, line 6 was a big stumbling block: first, I originally thought “아니” meant “no”, but it’s actually “know”, as in “알다”. Then, “훤하다” means “gray, dimly-lit”; “extensive, broad and wide, spacious”; “good-looking”; and finally “be familiar with” and I was plumping for the first meaning until my wife said the last would be better.

Speaking of whom, to anybody envious at my Korean ability evident in translations in numerous earlier posts, and surprised at (and tired of) how much I’ve needed my wife’s help this time(!), then, well, I’d be lying if I said she didn’t have a huge role in correcting my numerous mistakes and explaining things after I do the original translations (I probably wouldn’t be able to properly provide any at all without her). I just haven’t mentioned that before because I usually don’t talk about the translation process itself, and how much time and effort it takes us.

Which gives me a newfound respect for those studying Korean entirely by themselves! But getting back to the lyrics though, after the above there’s the chorus again, and then the final verse:

날 감당 할 수 있는 남잘 찾아요

진짜 남자를 찾아요

말로만 남자다운 척 할 남자 말고

날 불안 해 하지 않을 남잔 없나요

자신감이 넘쳐서 내가 나일 수 있게

자유롭게 두고 멀리서 바라보는

I’m looking for a man who can bear me

I’m looking for a real man

Not a man who only talks like a real man

Is there no man that I don’t make uneasy?

Who can’t give me the freedom to watch me become a woman overflowing with confidence?

Finally, an easy verse! Any fellow Korean learners, please feel free to ask me about any of it, but otherwise that’s the whole song already, but for the chorus and finally the English opening sequence again.

Reluctantly tearing my eyes away from the singers (especially Fei {페이}) to the translated lyrics in the video then, I’m happy to say that they appear to be very similar, although there do appear to be some differences between the subjects in the some cases (in other words, I’ve got some “he”s where TheKpopSubber has “she”s and so on).

I’d like to look at those in more detail, but unfortunately I’m about to go out on a big shopping trip with my wife and kids, so for now I’ll just have to leave the post for you to enjoy as it is I’m afraid (those of you also unnerved by mistaken recent reports that North Korea was shelling again, may be happy for the distraction!). But of course, do please feel free to discuss those differences and/or anything about the song, group, and/or MV yourselves, although still knowing so little about the group then I’m going to reserve my own analysis until I’ve at least translated their second hit Breathe (브리드) next week:

Enjoy!^^

Update: Wait…one of them’s only just turned 16? Another middle-school student in a girl band?

Update 2: Given Miss A’s Chinese angle mentioned in the comments (2 of singers are Chinese, and they’ve been promoting themselves extensively there), then I’d like to point interested readers to Rowan Pease’s chapter “Korean Pop Music in China: Nationalism, Authenticity, and Gender” in Cultural Studies and Cultural Industries in Northeast Asia: What a Difference a Region Makes, edited by Chris Berry, Nicola Liscutin, and Jonathan D. Mackintosh, (2009, pp. 151-167), in which (among many other interesting things) she explains that:

(Source: The Japan Foundation)

In 2003, the Korean National Tourism Office [a major investor in the Korean wave] conducted a Hanliu tourism survey in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong exploring attitudes to Korean culture, publishing the results online…

….It compared the impact of Korean culture with that of four “competitor” countries (the U.S., Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong), and in the process revealed much about Korea’s own political and nationalist concerns, particularly in relation to Japan and America. Six of the eleven options for respondents to the category “reasons I like Korean culture” reflect this preoccupation: “less sexual than Japanese culture,” “less sexual than American culture,” “less violent than Japanese popular culture,” “less violent than American popular culture,” “decreased interest in American culture,” and “decreased interest in Japanese culture.” One other echoes Straubhaar’s notion of cultural proximity: “similar in culture.” Certainly, Korea’s own music media censorship laws (which even in 1997 prohibited the displaying of body piercings, navels, tattoos, “outfits which might harm the sound emotional development of youth,” and banned violent or political lyrics), meant that Chinese TV stations could buy in Korean music videos and music TV shows knowing that they were unlikely to upset local censors. However, these questions also reflected a perception that Korea acts as a defender against excessive Westernization and as a guardian of Confucian values within East Asia. (pp. 155-156)

I wonder if those perceptions still hold true for China today, and in particular just how safe and “less sexual” than American and Japanese culture music videos like this one are viewed by Chinese TV stations?

43 thoughts on “Bad Girl, Good Girl (배드걸 굿걸) by Miss A (미쓰에이): Lyrics, Translation, and Explanation

  1. Interesting that 2 members are Chinese. To me that seems like forward planning to break into the Chinese market after success in SK.

  2. I’d never bothered to look at the lyrics of the song before, but these are interesting. it brings to mind something I’ve often heard: that men will date/sleep with a sexy woman, but they won’t get serious with her because they think she’s too promiscuous (after hooking up with the girl themselves, of course). It’s like, they like her sexiness, but at the same time are intimidated by it and therefore devalue it by making her out to be a ho. *sigh. oh the convoluted web of male/female interactions. i would applaud Miss A for (sort of) bringing this up in a pop song, but then they didn’t write it so I can only wonder what the original writer [JYP?]‘s intentions were when they wrote this. Maybe to compete with 2NE1 in the girl power lyrics department?

    • Yeah, that’s a really disappointing reactions that I’ve seen in my country too. Slut-shaming won’t do anyone good.

  3. this is nothing to do with a bf…rather it’s like the environment in a club or a house party…

    I hear all the time from Korean girls how they dance sexily in a club and then are objectified by guys..(happens anywhere). So guys naturally think they’re slutty, but they claim to be really faithful when in a relationship.

    Also, I lived in itaewon, had tons of house parties…i see these kgirls all the time. Every foreigner sleeps with them and they always come around…so yeah, a lot of guys bad mouth them and say shit behind their backs, and these girls know they have a reputation. Usually, when they meet a new guy for the first time, they’ll give them some rendition of this song…basically, oh, no one really knows me, they’re just little boys who can’t handle a confident woman like me. Oh I only go to clubs to “dance” and nothing more …blah blah

    Maybe it IS a double standard, and maybe guys are wimps…but the TRUTH is that guys dont like girls like that. As above commenter said, they’ll sleep with those girls but won’t ever go out with them…and why would they if they’re that easy? You can cry foul, but it’s reality…if the girls dont like it, then they can keep living like they do and be alone their whole life

    • I’m sorry, but . . .what???
      Can we dial the sexism back, just a little?
      The assumption that this song is a promiscuous woman trying to convince some poor innocent sap to date her is totally unsupported here. The whole talk about “these kgirls” and “every foreigner sleeps with them” and the bit about “‘dance’” and all the talk about how guys don’t date girls who are easy?
      You’re the kind of dude the song is aimed at. Boys who make ridiculous assumptions about a woman’s worth based on totally suspect and superficial information.

      • It’s a little late sorry, but I did also have some misgivings about Michael’s comment, so I was careful to only agree with his point that the man and woman were (possibly) meeting in a nightclub rather than already being boyfriend & girlfriend. But I really should have taken him to task for the rest of his comment though sorry, and thanks for doing so yourself.

      • Agreed that the song is not about a woman of a certain disposition trying to convince a man to date her. Rather, the group seems to be expressing the desire not to be labelled as “bad on the inside” despite their admission that they are “bad on the outside”. Subsequently the question is raised of whether there exists a male capable of discerning the difference.

        We do not have to consider interpretation as we are told quite directly that the girls are ‘bad’ due to their dance style.

        “When I dance I’m a bad girl, but when it comes to love I’m a good girl”

        It is suggested that their choice of hairstyle and clothing may contribute to their ‘bad’ image yet they are shameless. That is, they are aware of the disrepute that follows their image but feel it is undeserved: except that they admit it is bad which is confusing.

        “A woman with those clothes, that hairstyle, and doing that dance is shameless? Ha! You’re even more shameless”

        To really get the point across it would have been impressive to see scenes in the video of them demonstrating their ‘good’ side. Yet the entire video is dedicated to, I suppose, presenting the evidence that they are bad on the outside.

        Concerning the larger question of whether it is right, or fair, or moral to extrapolate a person’s behavior in one case to predict behavior in another (credit reports used as hiring criteria for example) I would say yes in general, but not for the issue these girls are talking about. The reason is that the personal information these girls are communicating amounts to nothing more than their preferences for certain fads. If everyone is compelled to adhere to trends (this is Korea after all), then yes you cannot tell anything important about a person based upon that information. However, it would be a very interesting person indeed, especially for this demographic, who espoused a positive disdain for such matters.

        Just to counter in the other direction a bit though, as I discussed this with my wife I was reminded of the famous quote by Kurt Vonnegut that reads,

        “Be careful what you pretend to be, because you are what you pretend to be”.

        • Well, I will reply to my own comment to modify my statement about the video not showcasing the girls ‘good’ side, or attempting to. Yes, the first few seconds tell us that the girls do ballet and play the violin. I imagine that these interests are supposed to pass as appropriate and demure, yet the evidence supporting the idea that the girls are ‘good on the inside’ is as weak as the evidence that they are ‘bad on the outside’.

          One point to support the notion that they are ‘bad on the inside’ is their desire to acquire a man who will allow them to exhibit their dance moves alone, presumably in a club, without interfering or becoming jealous. I can only wonder what attraction would draw a person to a club with their partner only to sideline one while the other enjoys their night alone. It sounds like teenage moral sentiment: I am justified in doing whatever I like, and if anything I do upsets you it is your own fault for being too immature and not understanding. I can only ask, why would such a girl want this mythical male with her in the first place? And how good are you if you ignore and even denigrate the feelings of the person you supposedly care about?

          Thanks for the article though James. I greatly appreciate your work :)

          • While I understand what your saying about being judged on their outside looks while having a different “inside” personality, I took the lyrics to mean something a little different due to the line:

            “When you see me dance you lose your mind / Only then to scorn me when the dance is ended”
            I Think this song is more about the double standard of the men picking up a girl because they look sexy, getting into a relationship with them and realizing that they are a good girl, but then telling them they can never look sexy again.

            I know this happens a lot with married couples and couple who have recently started dating. The woman is expected to completely change her style so that she no longer looks attractive to other men. It’s (as far as I’m concerned) a very common controlling tactic used by men here.

            I think this song is mostly about girls saying: “Hey I’m sexy. You like me to be sexy. But when I’m sexy you call me a slut and a bad girl. Sexiness doesn’t equal bad girl.”

    • Yep you’re right bout the location and all. I think this song is a girl’s POV about how she would dress/dance sexily but she’s not a ho, and the boys who act righteously badmouth her behind her backs but secretly want her. it happens all the time. There are girls who know how to dance, they dance sexily and boys looking at them, scared, excited, wanton etc but at the same time say bad thing about them. Look, because they can’t handle them, but if they have a chance they would def approach them. But if they fail getitng her number, “that girl is a ho, she’s dirty, etc”, things like that.

      It happens all the time to me and my friend when we go clubbing. We dance and then guys coming over asking to buy me drinks etc and I refuse. So you must distinguish ho’ and sexy girls. Not all girls who can dance are ho’. But ho’ really do dance well and sleep w men then acting innocent with new guys.

      But well, yes, when i dance i dance like a bad girl but im a faithful girlfriend for more than 3 years and im in a distance relationship. so don’t judge girls who love dancing or clubbing.

    • lol maybe the truth is that you (and yes lots of other men, I think) don’t want to end up with a girl who will easily sleep with someone they’re into. As a foreigner here in France, for a very long time I had a lot of problems with men – everyone left me because I wouldn’t just sleep with them right away. Because here, it is desirable for a woman to know what she wants (and obviously everyone wants sex). If you don’t want to sleep with a man right away, it is because you aren’t sure of what you want (him, someone else, no one at all…). Obviously my experience is generalised (I’ve met Frenchmen who want to stay virgins until they’re married, for example), but I just think that it has alot to do with cultural influence, rather than being a full-out truth about men’s likes and dislikes. And for the record, my amazing French husband and I ? We moved in together on the first date :)

  4. Miss A is already promoting in China. They have also already been all over SE Asia. Basically they are what 2NE1 was a year ago. The Two Chinese members were actually featured in a dance video with Lim, who ended up joining the Wondergirls after Sunmi bowed out to focus on her studies.

    The single Good, Girl, Bad Girls was #1 for a rediculously long time on various charts, and their single Breath didn’t do to bad either. Personally I like Breath a bit better, The dance and the song. As always the lyrics are just bla.

    Oh and Suzy, the 16 year old that you speak of, is from Gwangju (my (adopted) home town WOOT!) . She came from parents that own a really small restaurant.

  5. Thanks for this! Interesting for the grammar alone. And some small but significant differences to the lyrics I’d seen translated, like “become a woman overflowing with confidence” which I had no idea about.

    Anyway, considering this was their debut single it’s no wonder they stood out from other rookie groups and grabbed some #1 awards and a ‘pro’ status right away. Powerful performances, tough girl vibes without copying 2NE1.

    Their follow-up ‘Breathe’ is a little less ambitious in the lyrics department. “I’m in love and it’s making me crazy” and not much more it seems. Let’s hope they get back on track.

    • actually breathe came out first, and then bad girl good girl was the follow up
      and compared to a lot of other lyrics my other kpop artists, breathe is considered excellent…

  6. I was thinking about your last question, How Chinese people would view this music video, and I started to wonder how Koreans would view this music video. When we watch it images of strippers come into our head, but I wonder if it’s the same thing for Koreans. For example some elementary students at my friends school were doing a version of this dance and when the teacher asked what she thought she replied that she thought it was inappropriate. The Koteacher, who was in her late thirties, seemed generally confused. She couldn’t see anything wrong with the performance. I’ve come across this in one degree or another in several other situations.

    This leads me to believe that Koreans have a different standard of what “Sexy” (or maybe where the inappropriate line of sexy) is. Or maybe it’s just some difference similar to the Short shorts vs tank top situation.

    What do you think?

  7. LOL..

    So late on Sunday (Monday morning)

    “Miss A” and their logo seems to be two legs looked at from behind?

    “When I dance I’m a bad girl, but when it comes to love I’m a good girl” is a line that can be read in a way that the “good ” means skill (therefore is “bad” in Korean cultural terms)

    And… yeah. the music is good compared to most K-pop (or whatever-pop) but do they really have to cop all the same moves? I’ll buy the “rebel” chick-band when they just stand the eff up and sing…

    • Yeah, why the need to dance? Why can’t they rely only on their vocals and lyrics to wow the public? Or is the public not interested in girls “only” singing? Can the public like girl groups which “just” sing? No ‘sexy’ dancing, clothing or suggestive lyrics.

      • Of course they bloody can. Lots of Korean girl groups don’t dance, and some of them are among the best-selling groups, like Davichi. I don’t know why NOT dancing is supposed to be some virtue, but if that’s what you’re after.. or perhaps it was just a convenient way to dismiss this particular group.

        • I guess I shouldn’t comment about the Korean music scene, since I have no idea what is going on there. I am glad to know that singers can get by without needing to dance.

  8. Miss-A, like VNT, passes the test of not being unutterably dull. But still, before their their fancy dancing in abbreviated clothes, I would rather watch the discretely clad Ms. Luna sway to the music as she plucks her “gay sautrye”.

    (Reminder to those who have forgotten: The phrase “gay sautrye” is from Chaucer, CT 296 (Prolog) and CT 3213 (Miller’s Tale).)

  9. I always thought that, in a way, the lyrics talk about slut-shaming and even the Madonna/whore complex (which are pretty surprising themes for a k-pop song!)

  10. 자신감이 넘쳐서 내가 나일 수 있게

    자유롭게 두고 멀리서 바라보는

    My apologies for being late again, but now I’m snowed in so I’ve got a bit of time to browse again :)

    And I have to say I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t hate this lot from the moment I saw them on here. Could be a lot worse (could be XXXX).

    A couple of comments on the translation before I say what I think they’re talking about?

    내가 혹시 두려운거니 – Is it that you’re scared of me? The construction at the end is short for 두려운 것이니? The 니 question form is a familiar form and usually implies the speaker places themself slightly higher than the listener – usually determined by age.

    겉으론 bad girl 속으론 good girl
    - In this case 속 and 겉 are not supposed to be physical locations. They’re states or something more intangible than the physical outside. Now that I come to writing it it’s really hard to explain in English! Maybe we don’t have an equivalent construction. Think of it like this: 예술로 아름답지만 기술로 쓸모없다.

    자신 없으면 저 뒤로 뒤로 뒤로

    물러서면 되지 – If you don’t have the confidence you might as well step back over there (minus the repetition to fit the beat). Again the contstruction at the end is sort of hard to put into nice sounding English in this case, but I went for might as well – not perfect but I think it does the job.

    속이 훤히 보이는 건 아니 – Do you know I can see right through you? Again, 아니 is that same question form where she’s placing herself slightly above the guy.

    말로만 남자다운 척 할 남자 말고 – Not a guy who only talks the talk – thought this might seem like more common English useage, not saying that there was anything wrong with what you wrote!

    자신감이 넘쳐서 내가 나일 수 있게

    자유롭게 두고 멀리서 바라보는 – This one I do think you’ve got wrong (sorry), but I’m willing to hear another opinion! I would go for “(A man) who has the confidence to stand back and let’s me be as I am, let’s me be myself.”

  11. As for what I think they’re actually trying to say… Well, first of all I think you have to understand what they mean by good girl and bad girl. In Korean, the terms bad girl and bad boy mean, literally, bad girl and bad boy. They are negatives. Always. And what do they imply? Treating people badly, being a bit “easy” perhaps, doing things that you shouldn’t do. It doesn’t have the same bad-but-positive connotations that it can do in English. This gets a bit confusing in this song because the good girl bad girl lyrics are only ever said in English – so do we take the English meaning, where a bad girl could be seen in a sort of positive way (depending on your perspective), or do we assume the Korean meaning?
    I think the Korean menaing is implied, whereby bad girl means bad – it means people will disapproveand is not a popular character trait. On the other hand, they talk about having the outward appearance of a bad girl – as mentioned in the post and by other commenters there’s the clothes, the dancing and so on. Remember that this is Korea, where your outward appearance is often considered almost like a character trait in itself, and it becomes slightly easier to understand the point of the song.

    They’re saying they look like bad girls because they want to dress like that, dance like that etc. My personal view is, those things are fashionable, therefore they want to do them. What they don’t want is to then be labelled as being bad people. In this case, taking it in the context of the rest of the song, I think they don’t want to be viewed as promiscuous or “easy”, or even overly sexual as people. BUt I don’t want to go too far off on that tangent as it could get very long and perhaps slightly controversial.

    They are also taking issue with the fact that the guy they’re tlaking to in the song enjoys looking at them, likes the way they dance and basically appears to be turned on by them. He sees them in a sexual way and likes it, but then he badmouths them because they are displaying themselves in a sexual way. They accuse him of not having the confidence to cope with a woman like that and can’t allow them to just be themselves.

    These are all fair points on their behalf I feel, but then I don’t like how they appear to be defending themselves against the way this guy views them at the same time by saying that all that is just what they appear to be, and that really they’re “good girls” – meaning… presumably women who don’t display their sexuality in that way, dress more conservatively and don’t dance like that.

    So in the end, I’m a bit confused by what they’re saying. It’s almost like they’re saying “we’re allowed to look sexual/sexy/whatever if we want to, and we deserve men who will let us be like this, but we’re not actually that sexual/sexy/whatever.

    As for me… I think they’re quite sexy, and I greatly prefer them to the Wondergirls, SNSD and any of those other clone groups.

    • “…saying that all that is just what they appear to be, and that really they’re “good girls” – meaning… presumably women who don’t display their sexuality in that way, dress more conservatively and don’t dance like that.”

      I don’t necessarily see it that way. From my point of view, at least, they’re saying “I’m both a bad girl and a good girl: I’m not a stereotype, but a person with many different traits that will come up in different occasions, and you shouldn’t judge me based on the way I dress”.
      But I may be wrong. I always thought that the meaning behind the lyrics was very clear, but now I see that there are lots of different interpretations.

    • I’m not sure why Wondergirls and SNDS should be described as ‘clone groups’ — both were formed when girl groups were very much out of fashion in Korea, and they’ve shown impressive longevity in the face of countless actual clones. They’re not particularly similar to eachother either.

  12. I think you should have a look at the girl group SISTAR’s new song “How Dare You” it was banned by KBS for it’s lyrics before the song was even officially released due to being “belittling to others”.

    My guess is what they really mean is that the lyrics are belittling to (korean) men.

    Link: http://www.allkpop.com/2010/12/sistars-how-dare-you-fails-kbs-review

    http://www.allkpop.com/2010/12/sistar-unleashes-how-dare-you-mv

    P.S. as usual I don’t particularly like allkpop as a ‘news’ source. In the later MV release article they say the ban was because of the video and lyrics, yet they had already reported in the first article that it was solely because of the lyrics. Unreliable or intentionally misleading?

    • allkpop articles are for the most part English translations of articles from the Korean media – they don’t always go through the article to look for things that might not make sense, or that would conflict with previously reported information, as the sources are often different.

      • They list a source when they have one. It is now their policy. In addition, the second article does not have one nor does it need a source, it was just a MV release. They have plenty of opinion pieces and the one thing they all have in common is that there is zero criticism articles – quite the difference from other sites like Seoulbeats.

  13. Thank you very much for this. I’ve liked Miss A’s Good Girl, Bad Girl for more or less the same reasons (uniquely self-image conscious song theme. plus “hotness”.)
    But I’m also really interested in how other Asian cultures are latching onto Korean culture, as some sort of more wholesome foreign pop culture source relative to the U.S, influence. So thank you for all the additional insight and information on even the comparison with Japanese culture. I used to merely presume that Korea was just generally more successful at branding their exports more relatably than Japan, but now I saw the other “facets” of it.

    • Yes, and note that SBS, another public channel, did not demand any changes to the lyrics. KBS seems particularly sensitive / ridiculously conservative.

      Also, what I found odd was WHAT they wanted changed. This song has got the lyrics “If you make tears fall from my eyes, I’ll make blood flow from yours” and that was jolly OK for KBS, but the song’s title phrase, which I find a little hard to translate with my limited language skills (니까짓게) was not ok in the context of the lyrics. But they did display the song’s title on screen!

  14. My college English students did a departmental presentation of this song. It involved no actual English speaking, but rather a whole lotta pelvic thrusts and rump shaking. (This is an A.C.E. top 11 college.) I was not impressed.

    Not sure where people get off claiming Korea is “less sexual” than Japan. Ever see the stats on sexual activity in Japan? Lowest in the world. Add to the gambit the myriad of sexual venues (Dabangs, Room salons, massage palors, call girl business cards, noraebangs, hourly motels, et al) and I’m still more surprised.

    Anyways, what do I know?

  15. Pingback: Finding K-Pop Songs to Learn « Beginner's Mind: South Korea

  16. I just listened to this song recently and hooked into it, but when it comes to lyric, I actually doubt myself whether this song is worth of it. Before reading your translation, I’ve been wondering how they exactly represent “bad girl on the outside, good girl on the inside” because their dance has sexy and suggestive vibe.

    While thinking, I already imagine how hardcore kpop fans would call me hater or even quote the song itself to corner me “don’t you think the song suits you? You judge them by the way of dance.” Oh, seriously, I am not even hating the girls, but I wonder if it is really a good song. Sure, regardless of the clothes and the choreography, they are in sync and confident. But here again, what a music is for? To put it simply, I always think music is a way to express your creativity. Title and reff parts are usually the main content of the song and based on those parts, Bad Girl Good Girl seems like telling people what they are really are – or what they expect themselves appear to be. Unfortunately the video clip can’t deliver any image when they’ve been good girl, and neither does the lyric.

    Sure, don’t judge book by its cover – an overused meaningful quote, but if we don’t judge bear by its claw and size, our predecessors would’ve been dead long time ago. What I am trying to say is: solely judging based on appearance might make you overlooking some things, but it doesn’t mean appearance would totally mislead you.

    Well, the lyric could actually be about men standards. Like what others have said, they like sexy women, but in the same time they don’t trust them. It’s irritating for women because they can’t seem to make men happy. But I am not sure if it’s enough to say that this is an inspiring song.It might be only the actual translation from JYP which is poorly done or the original Korean lyric is indeed poorly written, but after awhile, this song starts sounding like another case of “bad girl who is perceived negatively yet want to prove that she is actually good without doing anything”. The lyric basically tells what she did, what the guy did, then she said that she is actually good, and the end. “..uh what?”

    If the lyric can’t convey anything, they should make use of the video clip. Instead of only showing their dance ability and their sexy body, they can tell what is the background story of the song.

  17. Sorry I’m really late to the party here, but my two cents as follows:

    First, as with most of Kpop, I dig this song for its melody and rhythm. I’m embarrassed to say, but I’ve actually never really thought about the lyrics until now, after reading this discussion. What interests me more than the translation itself is how differently people seem to interpret the song for themselves (and for others). I don’t think I’d tout this song self-empowering for women necessarily, though I can see how it can be adopted as such. Frankly, I think that scrutiny over Kpop music from a feminist or gender perspective often goes overboard; I mean, I get why this perspective is popular right now, why it’s even important to look at critically at this point in time, but at the end of the day, pop music is not out to explicitly endorse an ideological position. To me, the song is simply about a girl who’s got it and isn’t afraid to flaunt it; evidently there are some guys who can take it and some who can’t; and if you’re one of the guys who can’t, then just shut up boy and stop talking shit. Simple enough for me–need this turn into a manifesto about “Well, I know some kgirls who act slutty but then they claim to be good girls, yada, yada, yada”?

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