Breathe (비리드) by Miss A (미쓰에이): Lyrics, Translation, & Explanation

( Source )

Like Bad Girl, Good Girl (배드걸 굿걸) translated last week, Miss A’s (미쓰에이) Breathe (브리드) is also a song which very quickly grows on you. But seeming to lack a real climax though, then ultimately it proves somewhat less satisfying…a double entendre you’d do well keep in mind if you’re likely to be shocked by all the panting and heavy-breathing in it, let alone Meng Jia’s (멍지아, 孟佳) helpful demonstration of what might cause her to do that at 2:47.

Hell, Korean may well lack the “th” sound, but even the Hangulization of the title actually sounds more like “breed” too.

You’d probably never suspect then, that its central narrative is actually one of complete passivity towards the desired guy, with the music video full of aegyo and childish impressions to boot. Indeed, in that sense it’s much more in the vein of, say, Girls’ Generation’s Oh, T-ara’s Like the First Time, and KARA’s Mister then anything you’d ever expect from the same group that just did Bad Girl, Good Girl.

Not that that’s necessarily bad of course, and may we all meet someone that makes us that weak at the knees. But it was certainly a slight disappointment after just becoming a fan of theirs for being so different.

Still, I do like it, and especially the music video. And not just because of the eye-candy either. Rather, because with the backgrounds and the women’s sometimes deliberately stilted dance movements, in fact it reminds me a little of the 1989 Fine Young Cannibals’ number 1 hit She Drives Me Crazy, which was nominated for best video at the MTV Music Video Awards that year:

Minor quibbles are the small size of the room with the stripes that you can see in the screenshot below, which makes the fantasy element to the video a little harder to sustain, and Wang Fei Fei’s (왕페이페이, 王霏霏) simply bizarre hairstyle in the segments in which she’s wearing a red top (you’ll soon see what I mean). But I can easily forgive those considering how easy the excessive repetition made translating the lyrics!

너 땜에 자꾸만 내 가슴이 (hot hot hot hot)

너 땜에 자꾸만 내 몸이 (hot hot hot hot)

니가 날 볼 때마다, 니 생각 할 때마다

너 땜에 자꾸만 내 가슴이

no oh no oh no oh oh, I can’t breathe

no oh no oh no oh oh, I can’t breathe

no oh no oh no oh oh, I can’t breathe

no oh no oh no oh no oh no oh

Because of you my chest [is] often (hot hot hot hot)

Because of you my body [is] often (hot hot hot hot)

Whenever you look at me

Whenever I think of you

Because of you my chest [is] often…

( Source: unknown )

In Line 1, “땜” is short for “때문에”, or “because”, and there’s a lot of contractions like that in this song.

Next “만” after “자꾸” in several lines could have been a little confusing, as it usually means “only,” which would give the stange “frequently only” in the text. But in songs especially, it’s also used just for emphasis, and it’s usually very easy to tell by context which meaning is intended. You’ll see it again later.

Finally, yes, “가슴” does indeed mean “breasts”, but outside of Naver image searches then it’s probably more commonly used as the gender-neutral “chest”.

( Source )

Boy you look so fine

어쩜 너무 멋져 안보는 척 해보지만 자꾸만 눈을 맞춰

난 이런 적이 없는데 너에게 빠졌어

니 생각 만하고 있어 날 구해줘 어서

Boy you look so fine

Wow, you’re so cool, but while you pretend not to look we frequently make eye contact

I’ve never been like this before, I’ve sooo fallen for you

All I can think about is you, please hurry and save me

( Source )

In line 2, “어쩜” is short for “어쩌면”, which I was surprised wasn’t simply the verb “어쩌다” plus “면” (if) but was an entirely different word of its own, my dictionary giving:

  1. (감탄사로; admiration, wonder, exclamation) what, how
  2. (아마) possibly, maybe, perhaps

And I’m inordinately proud to say that while my Korean wife thought number 2 was correct, I argued that only number 1 made any sense, giving  “Wow, you’re so cool.” And if so,then it must be him that pretends not to look at her.

In line 4, “구하다” means:

  1. seek, look for, want, hunt
  2. ask for, call for, solicit for
  3. get, have, obtain, find (out), buy, purchase

But this time I did defer to my wife, who said that “save me” was much more accurate than my original “have me,” no matter how tempted I was to go with that instead because of all the heavy breathing.

( Source )

Boy you look so fine

(짝사랑은 난 하기 싫은데) 말을 해볼까

(너도 날 좋아할 것 같은데) 용기를 내서

고백해볼까 (yeah)

싫다면 어쩌나 (yeah)

이렇게 기다리다 미치겠어

Boy you look so fine

(I hate one-sided love) Shall I make the first move

(I think you like me too) Shall I be brave

and confess my love? (yeah)

But what if you don’t feel the same way?

I’m going crazy waiting like this

( Source )

Easy enough, but I’ve taken a few liberties to make it sound better in English. In line 2 for instance, “말을 해볼까” is literally “shall I try to talk,” and in line 5 “싫다면 어쩌나” would literally be “hate [me] – hypothetically speaking – if [you] – what would [I] do”.

Fellow Korean learners, give me a buzz if you’d like me to explain any of the grammar above, but otherwise, that in line 6 was most interesting for me. In particular, I wondered why “이렇게 기다리는것이 미치겠어” couldn’t be used instead, much easier for me because of how I learned Korean, and literally “this way – the act of waiting – crazy – will be.” But my wife says that that would mean more “it is crazy to wait like this”, not the song’s intended “waiting like this is driving me crazy”. Granted it may sound like a trivial difference, but there you have it.

For the sake of keeping track later, let’s call all that the chorus. For now though, next there’s the Korean half of the opening segment again, then after that:

( Source )

오늘은 난 꼭(꼭) 고백을 하고야 말 거라고

I’m gonna let you know

Baby I will let you know

생각하다가도 너만 나타나면

몸이 다시 굳어버리고 할말은 잊어버리고 oh

No matter how much I think that I will definitely confess my love to you today…

I’m gonna let you know

Baby I will let you know

…if you show up

Again I will tense up and forget what I was going to say

( Source )

This part was much harder to translate than I thought it would be!

First, for the grammar form “~고야 말다” in line 1, my trusty Korean Grammar for International Learners came to the rescue, saying that, first on page 181, the “~(이)야” grammar pattern it is part of means “only if it be, if it is just (no more than); when it comes to; taking ··· for granted; even, indeed.” Then it gets to “~고야 말다” specifically on the next page, saying:

The auxiliary particle can be used in conjunction with the pattern in ~고 in two different ways. The combination ~고야 means “only after ··· ing” or “only under the circumstance that / under the unique circumstance that.” ··· Added to the patter ~고 말다 meaning “finish up doing it, get it done, finally do it,” the ~이(야) in the resulting pattern in ~고야 말다 lends added emphasis to the finality inherent in the pattern.

Next, it’s important to realize that line 4 follows straight on from line 1, with the English in lines 2 and 3 being an aside really (otherwise the future tense form of indirect speech – “ㄹ 거라고” – at the end of line 1 makes no sense). Then the “다가” added to “생각하다” line 4 means “think, and then.” Immediately after that, the “도” should really be “더라도”, or “no matter how much,” then the “만” after that is just for emphasis again.

Finally all that makes “오늘은 난 꼭(꼭) 고백을 하고야 말 거라고 생각하다가도 너만 나타나면” become literally “today – I – definitely (definitely) – confess [finally] – think [will] [after] [no matter how much I] – you – show up [if],” with the grammar points in square brackets. I hope that all makes sense!

After the “if” section, then the “굳다” in line 5 means “become hard, stiffen” or “hard, solid” according to my dictionary, which I’ll confess certainly got my mind wandering, but “tense up” would be a better translation. Finally, the “버리다” after both that and the “forget” at the end would be in the sense of to one’s disappointment or regret (another grammar form), not literally throwing something away.

Then there’s the chorus again…then the entire opening segment again…then:

( Source )

눈이 마주칠 때 마다 심장이 잠시 멈춰 (hot hot)

니가 돌아설 때 마다 슬픔이 나를 덮쳐 (흑흑)

내 마음속에 갇혀 있는 이 사랑을 주고 싶어 미쳐 받아줘 catcher

Here (here) my (my)

love boy I just can’t breathe

Every time our eyes meet my heart stops for a moment (hot hot)

Whenever you turn your back on me I am struck with sadness (sob sob)

I’m going crazy wanting to give you my love that has been left trapped for so long, please receive it catcher

Here (here) my (my)

love boy I just can’t breathe

( Source )

In line 1, I couldn’t really see any difference between “눈을 맞춰” from earlier and “눈이 마주치다” here, so note it could just be “whenever we make eye contact” again. Next, in line 2 “덮치다” is “to hold something down” or to “attack, assault, raid, strike,” so “I am struck with sadness” felt appropriate.

What probably wouldn’t have been appropriate though, would be “pant pant” just after that, even that that’s much closer to what Meng Jia was actually doing. But as that sounds awkward even for lyrics for English songs, then I erred on the side of the dictionary definition of “흑흑,” or “sob sob” instead.

In line 3, the grammar form “[verb] + 아/어/여 있다” usually just means the thing that has been acted on (by the verb) remains in that state, and only “[verb] + 아/어/여 두다” means that it’s been left in that state for a long time, but I’d argue that in English at least the latter is more natural for this situation, and so stuck with “my love that has been left trapped for so long.”

Finally, I confess to having no idea what that (to me) nonsensical “이” is doing in the middle of it though, but unfortunately it’s not a typo. Sigh.

After that, the opening segment, and then, well already that’s it!

As always, I’d be very interested in hearing what you thought of the song and/or aspects of the translation, and if you’d like to sing and read along at the same time then I suggest this video above. To be frank though, I haven’t looked at it myself for comparison’s sake yet, nor this admittedly much easier to read translation at Yeeun2Grace either, although I will.

It’s just that after an unplanned 2-3 hours of dancing to K-pop songs with my 2 and 4 year-old daughters tonight, simultaneously worrying about the effects of watching music videos like this on them…then, well, I’d just rather have it up rather than delay another day!

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17 thoughts on “Breathe (비리드) by Miss A (미쓰에이): Lyrics, Translation, & Explanation

  1. You’re right, it does lack a climax and remains sort of unspectacular, but at the same time it’s a very pleasant and sympathetically playful song. I almost think the dance number is more entertaining than the song this time, though. They keep piling on the silly moves:

  2. As Much as i love the tune, I sometimes prefer not to see the Translation as it doesn’t always trf correctly to what should be said.

    Min, I understand speaks English, so she would be the best person to ask for the translation.

    As for the Silly moves, I don’t think the girls pile them one. The above vid is a show performance and will be different as the other Vid is the offical music vid and things in it cannot be repeated, so i look at both the vids and any different vids of there performanaces as being all different.

  3. “what that (to me) nonsensical “이” is doing in the middle of it”

    May I suggest that’s it’s the 이 from the 이/그/저 articles? I’m in no way fluent in Korean but I saw this construction many times… And in the context of the song, I think that 이 makes sense because this love is on the girl’s side.

    • That does make some sense thanks, but I’d always learned that in the case of a relative clause there can’t be any space between the “은/는” and the noun, which in this case the “사랑”. So I’d have to disagree sorry, although that means I’m still at a loss as to what the “이” is doing there then!

  4. Thank you so much for the translation! I learn so much vocabulary from these. ^^

    A question: Would it make more sense to translate “니가 날 볼 때마다” as “Whenever you look at me”? ‘See’ sounds strange to me in this context.

      • Oh I feel helpful, hehe. ^^ One more question, if you have the time…

        In the sentences, “눈이 마주칠 때 마다 심장이 잠시 멈춰,” and, “니가 돌아설 때 마다 슬픔이 나를 덮쳐,” what does the ‘마다’ mean? Wiktionary says ‘smash’ and Google Translate say ‘per/each’, but none of those seem to fit, lol. Thanks for any help you can give!

        PS – even a month ago, I would skip these translation posts with regret because there was just no way I could benefit from them. But I’ve REALLY been pouring myself into studying lately – maybe an hour a day? – and I guess I finally progressed enough in terms of grammar that I can follow almost all of this (with your help, Google Translate, and Wiktionary, lol!). It’s really exciting!

          • Yes, that’s it. Frankly, I’m unsure if there’s supposed to be a space between the “때” and the “마다,” and I can’t find anything on that specifically in any of my Korean books. The original Naver link I got it from did have it of course, but Naver’s lyrics tend to be full of typos.

            p.s. Glad to hear you’re enjoying the translations now!

  5. I’ve been playing this song on repeat for the last couple of weeks!

    Was wondering if you’ve seen this U-kiss video, and what your thoughts on it are?:

    • I hadn’t seen it I’m afraid. And now that I have, then sorry, but the song doesn’t really do it for me, and I can’t really think of anything to add about the inclusion of the Caucasian woman in it beyond what I’ve already written on that subject in many other posts.

      Not saying that there isn’t necessarily anything interesting about it though, just that as I type this I can’t see anything! But what do you think of the video yourself? Give me a hint as to what I should be looking for please!^^

        • Oh, don’t underestimate it! Sure, I do always ultimately judge songs by whether I enjoy them just listening to them on my MP3 or not, but having hot women in the music videos certainly gets me to pay attention at least. And it doesn’t harm thinking about them while I listen to the audio either…

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

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