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