One More Chance (나 좀 봐줘) by The Grace – Dana and Sunday (천상지희 – 다나 & 선데이): Lyrics, Translation, and Explanation

(Source, all screenshots)

아, 짱나! Why’d you always choose songs with such bloody strange lyrics?!!

While I’m very grateful to my long-suffering wife for her help, somebody had to redeem this song’s reputation among English speakers. For it definitely deserves praise for its empowering lyrics, especially when people may be put off from hearing the song at all through reviews like this, this, and this that don’t even consider them. Or translations like these that don’t give enough thought to resolving their ambiguity.

Yet who can blame those writers? With an official title of One More Chance (나 좀 봐줘), and lyrics that sometimes mention a guy, then it’s only natural to assume it’s basically about one more chance with that guy. In which case, SM Entertainment has done Dana & Sunday (다나 & 선데) a great disservice, for that English title doesn’t just dilute the song’s message, but positively subverts it.

If I’m going to argue that other people allowed their preconceptions to color their judgement of a song though, then first let me disclose my own, which I gained through readers’ emails like this one:

There seems to be 2 camps about the lyrics: It’s either stupid or the lyrics are quite ingenious. Is this a girl-anthem lite or is it a true empowerment song?

What I can only pick out is: “Amazon” “Adam & Eve” “Soju” “Bridget Jones” From the translations I have already read, there seems to be more metaphors than the usual k-pop songs.

And then from Jessica in the comments section to a post on underlying messages in girl-group songs:

…SM Ent just brought back one of their older K-pop groups, originally a 4 piece harmony group called The Grace as a duo.

I’m showing you this because the lyrics were written by SM Ent’s inhouse songwriter, Kenzie. Unlike her lyrics for Oh!’, though, the lyrics in this song seem pretty different and a bit strange compared to your average K-Pop single. I think they would be pretty interesting to dissect because at the moment I kind of feel like it could be a female-empowerment song, but the lyrics just don’t make any sense to me, even when translated! (Could be a bad translation? I don’t know..)

Then from Gomushin Girl’s reply:

It’s not perfect in the translation department (“give me one more chance, my strength’s coming out” is pretty loosely translated, ha!), but the lyrics are pretty explicitly meant to be empowering. They complain about the emphasis on being pretty and acting feminine. I thought the bit about how she didn’t like to drink soju because it made her face look big (for those of you not in Korea, having a “small face” is a mark of beauty) and she’d prefer the (ungentrified, rural, masculine) unfiltered rice wine – which comes in a bigger cup. The lyrics also reject certain standards of masculine beauty, saying that they’re fine with guys with big heads (in this case, it’s NOT figurative and saying he’s full of himself but literally that his head is big and therefore unattractive) – albeit partially because it makes her look smaller by comparison! So yeah, it’s pretty straight up critique of Korea’s beauty culture and cult of femininity.

That said, what’s really problematic for me is that the video images don’t do anything to reinforce the girl power message. I mean, it’s a pretty lame video – there’s absolutely nothing to it beyond having them dressed up and dancing – but it also plays right into the mainstream image of women in Kpop. You could put in totally different lyrics about how they’re waiting for their 오빠 to come and rescue them and it’d work fine.

And finally from Jessica’s response:

Indeed! It’s a shame. These are probably the only lyrics I’ve seen from a girl group outside of 2NE1 and (perhaps) 4Minute that are empowering, it’s just a shame that the music video is so conflicting. I think they should’ve atleast dressed them differently. I feel that this song would’ve been betetr suited to labelmate, f(x). I’d hardly say that the group is empowering, but you have unconventional (well, by typical Korean standards, I guess) beauties like Amber that could atleast give the lyrics *some* sort of meaning.

I’m more interested in the songwriters views over Dana and Sunday’s, though, who I’m guessing had no input with regards to the lyrics in this song. I have to wonder what Kenzie’s views really are; it seems she’s trying to raise the issues women have to deal with in Korean society, and yet she seems to have no problem writing songs such as Oh! for SNSD. If only I could have a discussion with this woman. haha

I’d still say it’s a step forward though, and it feels less like a contrived marketing ploy to me than say BoA’s ‘Girls On Top’, and I do commend Kenzie for not going down the typical lyrical route as seen in most ‘female empowerment’ pop songs and making some sort of statement, even if the words are lost on the poor video.

Only after reading those, I confess, did I really investigate who Dana and Sunday were (those three reviews above remain excellent introductions to them btw, and of course there’s also their Wikipedia page), and then get stuck into the video:

And in the interests of full disclosure, One More Chance happened to be the first song I’ve ever translated that I needed my wife’s ID to get the lyrics from Naver for, as it turned out that it had been banned for public broadcast for the heinous crime of mentioning alcohol, which you can read more about here or here (and more about increasing opposition to such inane censorship here, here, or here). Not that I seriously think that that biased me of course, although I did realize later that the song would make little sense without the alcohol in it.

But at the very least, I was clearly expecting a message of female empowerment in the lyrics, and – surprise, surprise – got one. Albeit only after giving up on it in frustration late last night, then realizing in the light of day that that narrative was the only way to resolve its many ambiguities. Was I just projecting though, reaching for a solution? Please judge for yourselves if the following explanations objectively justify that conclusion then, and why I ultimately think the song should actually be called Hear Me instead!

Update With my eternal gratitude, reader Seamus Walsh has spent a great deal of time in the comments analyzing the lyrics himself, including noting many minor and some major mistakes with my translation. Starting here, please make sure to read those also!

아담의 갈비뼈를 뺐다고? 진짜 빼야 될 사람 난데

내 허리 통뼈 이대론 안 돼 웃지 마라 진짜 진지하다고

소주는 싫어 잔이 작아 얼굴 더 커 보이잖아

막걸리 가자 잔도 크고 양도 많아 내 스타일이야

오늘 끝까지 한번 달린다 Let’s Go

It’s said Adam’s rib was pulled out? Really, I’m the person who needs things taken out.

I can’t endure my big-boned waist as it is. Don’t laugh, I said I’m serious.

I hate soju, its little shot glass makes my face look bigger

Let’s go drink makkoli, its glass is big and holds a lot, that’s my style

Tonight, let’s run until the end, Let’s go

In line 2, “뼈” by itself means “bone”, and “통” means…well, it has 8 entries in my dictionary. But “통뼈” together is a euphemism meaning “big-boned” (e.g. “난 통뼈야!).

In line 4, I think there’s an unspoken “in order to drink”  between “makkoli” and “let’s go” (e.g. “막걸리 먹으로  가자”), but my wife says that adding saying “[a drink]” with just “가자” is also common slang for emphasizing how much you really want to have that particular drink (not that our explanations are mutually exclusive of course).

Finally, in line 5 I think “tonight” makes much more sense than “오늘/today” for most non-alcoholics.

Next, there’s the (sort-of) chorus:

아마조네스 시대엔 내가 왕인데

남자가 언제부터 우릴 먹여 살렸니?

나! 나 좀! 놔줘! 먹여 살렸니

나! 나 좀! 놔줘! 먹여 살렸니

지금이 최고로 마른 건데 살쪘대

오늘만 마셔 낼부터 다이어트 쭉쭉 간다

나! 나 좀! 봐줘! 아 쭉쭉 간다

나! 나 좀! 봐줘! 아 기운 없어

In the Age of the Amazons, I am the queen

From when have men supported us?

Me! Please me! Let me go! When have men supported us…

Me! Please me! Let me go! When have men supported us…

I’m the thinnest right now, but people say I’ve become fat

I’ll only drink today, from tomorrow I’ll diet properly

Me! Please me! Pay attention to me! Ah…I’ll do it properly

Me! Please me! Pay attention to me! Ah…I have no energy

The first two lines are simple enough here, but the third and fourth are very vague and frustrating. Partially, that’s because I didn’t know “놓다” could mean “release” (I usually use it as “put”), but after that who or what are the “먹여 사렸니” referring to exactly? Other translators think the whole line means “Let me go, I can feed myself”, which is certainly logical, but then there’s not only no indication of the object and subject like I said, but the verb is in the past tense too. So, my wife thinks they’re actually just repeating line 2 really, but which is too long itself to repeat all of it.

In line 6, “쭉” will always be difficult to forget for me personally because the term “쭉쭉빵빵” was the precursor to “S-line”, although here it means  “utterly/completely/entirely” rather than “a straight line [tall]”. Meanwhile, the “간다” means it’s something that’s going to happen in the future, as explained in depth in my discussion of T-Ara’s Like the First Time.

Finally, in lines 7 and 8, again other translators give – all together – “나 좀 봐줘” as “give me one more chance”, and sure enough, that’s the English name of the song too (although I don’t know who came up with that). But I’m going to have to dissent, as not only is “chance” not mentioned whatsoever (although I acknowledge there’s a [slim] possibility that it’s unspoken) but a verb plus ‘줘” means “please [do the verb] for me”, and so in this case “봐줘”  would be “please look at me”, or indeed “please pay attention to me”. And this is corroborated by in the video when Dana says it again at 2:10 (see below), as she both looks at the viewer the entire time and is stared at intensely by Sunday, albeit only partially because Sunday does exactly the same when she says “Let me go” too, as in the fourth picture up.

However, if there was a (conjugated) verb before the “봐줘”, like, say, “해봐줘”, then that would be quite different, as the “봐” stops being “see” but becomes part of the  form “[verb] + [try to do the verb]” (e.g. “해봐” means “try to do it”). But as you can see, there’s nothing.

Whether it’s “give me one more chance” or “pay attention to me” though, saying “Ah [as in “sigh”]…I have no strength” straight afterwards is still a bit of a contradiction.

(Author’s screencapture)

브리짓존스는 짝을 만났지

내가 걔보다 뭐가 못해?

선배들 얘기, 솔직히 반대

‘눈을 낮춰야 남자가 보여?’ 흥!

좋은 녀석이 있어 머리가 좀 사실 많이 크지

그 옆에 서면 내 얼굴 진짜 작아 보이더라구

그것 땜에 만난다는 건 아냐, 진짜

아담이 이브, 만난 정돈 아니고

죽도록 걔한테 목매는 나도 아닌데

나! 나 좀! 봐줘! 자꾸 생각나

나! 나 좀! 봐줘! 자꾸 생각나

Bridget Jones met her other half, right?

What can’t I do compared to her?

My seniors’ stories, honestly I disagree

Do I have to lower my standards to meet men? Hmmpth!

I have a boyfriend, actually his head is quite big

People say that next to him my face looks small

That’s not the real reason I met him

We not close like Adam and Eve were

I’m never going to be so in love with a guy

Me! Please me! Pay attention to me! This consumes me

Me! Please me! Pay attention to me! This consumes me

Easy enough to translate, but frustratingly vague towards the end. First, the “걔” in line 2 means “그” or “that”, in this case Bridget Jones, mentioned in line 1. Then in line 6, “더라구” is slang for “더라도”, which I scanned an explanation of (from p. 150 of 100 Korean Grammar Patterns/한국어 문형 표현 100) for you below (basically, it’s used for emphasis when you’ve telling someone about something you’ve directly experienced, but the listener hasn’t).

In lines 10 and 11 though, we’ve already established that the first part means “pay attention to me”, but the while the “자꾸 생각나” easily translates to (literally) “frequently think” or “unceasingly think”, what is the singer thinking about exactly? Late last night, my wife and I thought it was about the guy mentioned earlier, but (again) that’s a contradiction. If the next verse was about a guy though, as it certainly appears at first glance, then it could retroactively be about him though, but…well, we’ll get to that.

For now then, if we just take for the sake of argument that it isn’t about a guy, then it must be about the issue of people saying she just chose to date him because he made her face look smaller, or the wider issue of paying attention to her, letting her do her own thing. In which case, as that is the main theme of the song, then I think my own rendition of it as “this consumes me” is quite eloquent(!), even if I do only say so myself.

Of course, the lyricist may be just have been having an off-day too…

Show me! Show me! 어쩜 좋니

토크는 안 끝나고 우린 더욱 아쉽고

이 밤을 불태워버릴 우리만의 100분 토론

나! 나 좀! 놔줘! Yo! 100분 토론

나! 나 좀! 놔줘! 100분 토론

난 먹고 자고 울고 웃고 사랑하고

다 저울질하고 때로는 미워하고

오 매일 매일 난 큰 꿈을 꾸고 있는데

이 놈의 통 큰 갈비뼈를 빼서라도 날아갈 거라고!

Show me, show me, how

We got more to say, it’s sad that we have to stop

Our 100 minutes of talking will burn this night

Me! Please me! Let me go! Yo! 100 minutes of talking

Me! Please me! Let me go! 100 minutes of talking

I want to eat, sleep, cry, laugh, and love

I hate having to weigh everything up

Oh! Every day I dream a big dream

Even if I have to take out this big rib of mine, I will fly!

Ironically for all the time spent on the translations of previous verses, I didn’t really see have any problems of note in translating that. And by coincidence, it’s here that the fundamental message of the song becomes clear too.

Just a few lines ago, the singer was talking about her (literally) big-headed boyfriend, so it’s only natural to assume that she is still talking about him in this verse. But just think back to the situation: she opened the song talking to her (probably female) friend, she suggested that they go get a drink together…and until there’s anything to suggest otherwise, then she’s still talking to that friend here. So no, she isn’t sad about having limited time to talk to her boyfriend, and she certainly doesn’t want “one more chance” to be with him.

Indeed, only when you remove that assumed longing for a guy from the song, does it finally begin to make some sort of sense.

Unfortunately, the last verse below has (to my mind) a throwaway line about love which potentially confuses it, but again only if you have the preconceived notion that the song is about love between a man and a woman. Love her friend listening to her though, platonically or otherwise, and there’s nothing to be confused about.

아마조네스 시대엔 내가 왕인데

남자가 언제부터 우릴 먹여 살렸니?

나! 나 좀! 놔줘! 먹여 살렸니

나! 나 좀! 놔줘! 먹여 살렸니

아담이 이브, 만난 정돈 아니고

죽도록 걔한테 목매는 나도 아닌데

왜 자꾸 자꾸 네가 생각나니 이상해

들어봐 온 가슴이 그렇게 말해 이게 사랑이래 I got you baby

나! 나 좀! 봐줘! 자, 기운 내서

나! 나 좀! 봐줘! 가는 거야

나! 나 좀! 봐줘! 자, 기운 내서

나! 나 좀! 봐줘! 자, 가는 거야

In the Age of the Amazons, I am the queen

From when have men supported us?

Me! Please me! Let me go! When have men supported us…

Me! Please me! Let me go! When have men supported us…

We’re not close like Adam and Eve were

I’m never going to be so in love with a guy

Why am I so consumed like this? It’s strange

Try listening to me, my whole heart is saying this is love, I got you baby

Me! Please me! Pay attention to me! Cheer up!

Me! Please me! Pay attention to me! I’m going to go

Me! Please me! Pay attention to me! Cheer up!

Me! Please me! Pay attention to me! I’m going to go

And on that note, “Pay attention to me!” doesn’t roll of the tongue very easily, so I hereby retroactively change all instances of that to “Hear me!” instead, and submit that as a new song title!

What do you think? Am I simply projecting my own narrative onto the song, or am I onto something? As always, I defer to readers’ greater knowledge of the group and/or Korean abilities. Perhaps especially the latter in this case, as my epiphany about how much the song has been misinterpreted is so dependent on my alternate translation of just a few lines. On the other hand, from what I’ve read they’ve been known for grrrl-power from the outset, so surely the burden of proof is more on those who claim that this is such an uncharacteristic romantic love-song?

Update – Again, and especially if you’ve read this far, please make sure to read Seamus’s comments also!

(For more Korean song translations, please see here)

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Syndrome (신드롬) by ChoColat (쇼콜라): Lyrics, Translation, and Explanation / Reading The Lolita Effect in South Korea, Part 4

(Source)

Way back when the internet was just for emails, getting on a plane was pretty much the only way to immerse yourself in another country’s pop-culture. But there were instant insights to be gained if you did.

Take the first Korean music videos I saw. Certainly, they were confusing at first: the hairstyles and clothing were downright bizarre, and I couldn’t understand a word of the language. But seeing the same dance moves, facial expressions, and hand gestures on Korean singers as those back home? I suddenly gained a profound sense of how manufactured pop music was in both countries, which I’d never been able to get from my hapless media studies lecturer.

And that was in May 2000. Fast forward to 2011, and it’s great having 24/7 access to K-pop, wherever you are in the world. But what would it be like encountering the K-pop assembly-line for the first time today?

(Source, all Syndrome screenshots)

Enter Chocolat’s (쇼콜라) music video for Syndrome (신드롬), offering similar quick insights into Korean girl-groups specifically, in this case through seeing girls doing things you normally only see women do. In particular, cutesy aegyo is bad enough coming from a 21 year-old singer, but simply surreal when you see it done by a 14 year-old.

Yes, surreal, not merely awkward and inexperienced. Essentially, you’re watching a child pretending to be an adult pretending to be a child.

Likewise, de rigueur sexy wistful stares at the viewer, hinting at hidden pain and heartbreak, while walking aimlessly in moodily-lit rooms? Receiving one from someone not yet old enough to date, only seems to highlight the pretentiousness of the device all the more. So much so, that I’m not sure I won’t be able to simply laugh at the next one I see now, unless it’s coming from a genuinely worldly-wise diva like, say, Uhm Jung-hwa (엄정화).

Oops: Juliane (줄리앤) above, is actually 18, albeit—if you’ll indulge someone twice her age—still far too young to pull the look off. But that’s not her fault, and I’m sure her and other members will improve with experience. Call it an occupational hazard of teenage groups: No More Perfume on You (향수뿌리지마) by Teen Top (틴탑), for instance, relies on a similar suspension of disbelief, as we’re supposed to pretend that all the boys are playas in a nightclub, despite none being old enough to even get in one:

Rather than dwelling on how teenage girls dancing in tight clothes made me think of teenage boys though, let’s wisely turn to the issue of Chocolat’s marketing instead. First, some quick context.

These days, with notorious levels of illegal downloading ensuring that girl-groups’ (and boy-bands’) management agencies overwhelmingly rely on endorsement deals rather than music sales for profit, then the most important thing is to get noticed. However, this is increasingly difficult, as 27 girl-groups have already debuted just this year.

One inevitable development then, is the increasing sexualization of K-pop, as I discuss in the Korea Herald here. Another, much more recent one, is explicitly using what’s known in advertising as a “unique selling point” (USP), such as the Swing Girls (스윙걸즈) highlighting the fact that all members have D-cup breasts, or the Piggy Dolls (피기돌스) that they are—or rather weremuch heavier than most other female stars.

(Update – Megan at Seoulbeats explores this more in her post about the very similar—and increasingly tiresome—use of “concepts”)

As for Chocolat, their own USP is that 3 members are biracial, with Korean mothers and US Caucasian fathers. Not the first Korean group with biracial or foreign members by any means, but certainly the first to emphasize it so (although as an aside, it would be interesting to see how SM Entertainment handled the issue of Kim Isak’s {김이삭} mixed race back in 2002).

(Source)

Will this succeed? Angry K-pop Fan, ellieAisa (in the video below), Gord Sellar, and Ashley of Seoulbeats are pessimistic. In particular, let me quote Gord at some length:

Whereas the media hypersexualization of children is pretty much accepted—if not admitted—in Korean society, and the media hypersexualization of white women is all but de rigeur now, I think the idea that the media sexualization of biracially white/Korean children might not turn out to be as profitable an enterprise in Korea.

The band seems to be getting a pretty negative reception online, and it’s not hard to see why: the particular anxieties regarding race in Korea that the group’s promoters are trying to exploit—ambiguities of race, and the permissible exoticism of the non-Korean female—take on a life of their own when there is not a Korean male in the picture to “own” her (and, likewise, to “pwn” her).

Put that mixed race woman in a group of Korean women, without a man in the mix, and I think you might find what I’ve seen in reality: she gets ostracized, because she is the one who’s enviably different. And then, if you take a few of them and put them together, make them dominate a group, and let media out where they could remotely be understood (or misunderstood, or willfully misunderstood even) as looking down on Korean girls, and…

Well, I don’t know what will happen. But I expect a lot of negative press, a lot of anti-fans. Korean girls are not going to like this very much. What remains to be seen is whether the appeal to middle-aged men is going to be enough to outweigh that narrowing of audience.

(Update—Related, also see Hello Korea!’s discussion of SuperStarK’s judges recently hesitating to approve a Caucasian entrant, as they anticipated “that the Korean people would be reluctant to let him win over a Korean”)

With the benefit of an extra month’s hindsight though, I’m going to wager that they will actually become popular, for several reasons.

First, because they have not just one USP but two: their race and their youth. Two of the three biracial members, Tia (티아) and Melanie (멜라니), are only 14 (the other biracial member is 18 year-old Juliane, mentioned earlier). From the perspective of management agency Paramount Music, this makes great sense both in the long-term and the short term.

In the long-term, because the younger a girl-group member becomes popular, the greater the range of consumers she can appeal to: ergo, both teens and young children and the uncle/ajoshhi fans. And she will have a much longer shelf-life so to speak.

This is the heart of “The Lolita Effect”, and why performers—especially female performers—are becoming younger worldwide, not just in Korea.

In the short term, while Girl Story (걸스토리) and GP Basic (지피 베이직) have even younger members, both groups seem to have quickly dropped off the radar, leaving – correct me if I’m wrong – Chocolat with the youngest girls currently active in K-pop. This presents a great opportunity for Paramount Music to gain notoriety for them by pushing the Korean public’s toleration of the hypersexualization of Tia and Melanie to the limit.

(Source)

Call me projecting my own narratives onto K-pop, but, sure enough, Tia at least has already been in a romantic couple photoshoot with 27 year-old actor Ji Hyun-woo (지현우), even before Chocolat officially debuted. You could argue that that was simply one small part of their overall marketing strategy rather than presaging a focus on sexualization per se, but my money’s still on them following the footsteps of So-hee (안소희) of the Wondergirls (원더걸스); Sulli (최설리) of f(x) (에프엑스; see here also); HyunA (김현아) of 4Minute (포미닛); arguably Suzy (배수지) of Miss A (미쓰에이); just about all of Girls’ Generation; and so on. As like Gord Sellar has said elsewhere, it’s not sex itself that sells, but more sexuality and sexual relationships only just on the fringe of public acceptance:

…we westerners also have a lot of weirdness in our entertainment media floating around that grey area of the age of consent. We’re profoundly uncomfortable with — and at the same time fascinated by — the period where sexuality begins to form in the mind of people, and the moment at which that sexuality becomes permissible. Straight-laced objectionability is, in fact, the greatest determinant in whether you’ll see a sex scene between two characters in a film. This is why we so rarely see plain, slightly overweight forty-year-olds having marital sex in a film. Doubtless, there must be some plain-looking middle-aged married couples out there who have passionate, enviable sex lives, but you’ll never see that in more than a few films, because it’s the most permissible sex on the planet. It’s when sex becomes imaginably objectionable—transgressive—that it becomes worthy of depiction…

Second, USPs aside, another thing in Chocolat’s favor is how they’re already behaving like better established girl-groups, already dieting and claiming that they haven’t had any cosmetic surgery(!). But more seriously, it also didn’t take long for Tia at least to secure a cosmetics endorsement deal, according to Paramount Music precisely because of her exoticism (albeit hardly an objective source).

Next, you might reasonably expect me to also present the photoshoot with Ji Hyun-woo as an example of a Korean male “owning her”, but honestly I’m not sure what Gord is driving at there, and invite him to elaborate either in the comments or on his own blog. I will grant though, that while it’s difficult to generalize, I do get the impression that the more Caucasian women you see in Korean-produced ads, the more they’re depicted with a Korean romantic male interest, as is also the case for music videos (see two examples below). Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course (although it would be nice if the opposite were also true), and I’d be grateful if any readers could fill me in on how they fare in dramas and movies.

Also, it’s certainly true that, sometimes, Korean girl-groups’ music videos have a completely unnecessary, often distracting and confusing male presence. To my mind, the most notorious example would be Because of You (너 때문에) by After School (애프터스쿨; discussed here), which inexplicably features a male in it despite clearly being about a lesbian relationship between two of the members (although technically the lyrics leave the gender{s} open):

Finally, it’s only indirectly related, but it’s one of the first things I thought of when I read Gord’s take on Chocolat (so what the hell): while the “policing” of women in K-pop is constantly in flux, with many backward steps, generally I’d say its slowly but surely liberalizing over time. In particular, whereas S.E.S (에스이에스) was forced to make Caucasian rather than Korean men the target of their wrath for their music video for U back in 2002, lest Korean men be offended (see here and here), now Korean men are fair game, with Miss A’s music videos in particular coming to mind.

Moreover, the debut of a girl group focused on its biracial members provides a great opportunity to do away with convention.

It’s such a pity then, that the music video for Syndrome has such a cookie-cutter feel about it instead, although that is of course what you’d expect from something so representative of the genre. For an analysis, see Quynh’s breakdown of it at Seoulbeats, while I’ll finally—belatedly—provide a translation of the lyrics for the remainder of this post:

Oh yeah~

그 얼굴 닳아질라 널 자꾸 보게 돼 baby baby

너 귀가 따가울라 여기저기서 니 얘기뿐야

Woo~그 hair, fashion 모든 게 it style 닮고 싶은 hot style

Boo 떠오른 new icon uh huh

Oh yeah~

Your face is fading, but I want to see it often

Your ears are burning, everyone is talking about only you

Woo~ that hair, fashion everything it style, a hot style I want to resemble

Boo a rising icon uh huh

Mercifully after a such a long discussion, Syndrome is probably the shortest, most repetitive song I’ve ever translated. Unfortunately though, just like the music video lacks any story, so too do the lyrics too seem disjointed and thrown together, chosen more for their sound than their meaning. Add an excessive amount of English nonsense, even by K-pop standards, then I’m going to forgo discussing my translation on this occasion, although I’d be quite happy to in the comments if people have alternative translations and/or think I’ve made a mistake.

Next, there’s the chorus:

빠 빠 빠 빠 빠져 버린 걸 헤 헤 헤 헤 헤어날 수 없게

너땜에 앓고 있잖아 모두 다 la la la la like me

폐 폐 폐 폐 폐인이 된걸 너 너 너 너에게 중독돼

이순간 Shake me up Fill me up Heal me again

I’ve so fa- fa- fa- fa- fallen for you, I can’t escape

I’m suffering because of you, everything la la la la like me

You’ve cr- cr- cr- cr- crippled me, I’m addicted to you you you

This moment, shake me up, fill me up, heal me again

널 새겨 놓은 my eye eye eye eye 멋진 그 목소리 in my headset

어떡해 미쳤나봐 낮이나 밤이나 니 생각뿐야

Woo 그 ment, motion 모든 게 issue 폭풍눈물 tissue

Boo 빛나는 new idol uh huh

You’re engraved into my eye eye eye eye, your cool voice in my headset

What am I supposed to do, I only think about you every day and night

Woo, that ment, motion everything issue, storm tears tissue

Boo, shiny new idol, uh huh

빠빠빠빠빠져버린걸헤헤헤헤헤어날수없게

너땜에앓고있잖아모두다 la la la la like me

폐폐폐폐폐인이된걸너너너너에게중독돼

이순간 Shake me up Fill me up Heal me again

I’ve so fa- fa- fa- fa- fallen for you, I can’t escape

I’m suffering because of you, everything la la la la like me

You’ve cr- cr- cr- cr- crippled me, I’m addicted to you you you

This moment, shake me up, fill me up, heal me again

내가 어쩌다 이렇게 됐나 몰라 몰라 몰라 몰라

내겐너무먼별같은걸

내맘을알아줘 baby 맘을알아줘 baby You never break break my heart

날잊지말아줘 baby 잊지말아줘 baby la la la la like me

내맘을알아줘 baby 맘을알아줘 baby You never break break my heart

이순간 Shake me up Fill me up Heal me again

How did I become like this, I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know

To me, you’re like an unreachable star

Please know my heart baby, please know my heart baby, you never break break my heart

Please don’t forget me baby, please don’t forget me baby, la la la la like me

Please know my heart baby, please know my heart baby, you never break break my heart

This moment, shake me up, fill me up, heal me again

빠 빠 빠 빠 빠져 버린 걸 헤 헤 헤 헤 헤어날 수 없게

너땜에 앓고 있잖아 모두 다 la la la la like me

폐 폐 폐 폐 폐인이 된걸 너 너 너 너에게 중독돼

이순간 Shake me up Fill me up Heal me again

Never break break my hearta

I’ve so fa- fa- fa- fa- fallen for you, I can’t escape

I’m suffering because of you, everything la la la la like me

You’ve cr- cr- cr- cr- crippled me, I’m addicted to you you you

This moment, shake me up, fill me up, heal me again

Never break break my hearta

Make sure you see ellieAsia‘s short video (“Chocolat Scares Me”) for her rendition of the way Tia says that last line—it’s hilarious.

And on that note, apologies for the long delay with this post: blame an editing job at work that took much longer than expected, and then a cold from the lack of sleep. Also, no vote for next week’s song this time sorry, as One More Chance (나 좀 봐줘) by Dana & Sunday (다나&선데이), sub-unit of  The Grace (천상지희 더 그레이스), came a very very close second to Syndrome when votes closed on Friday at 5pm (or were supposed to close sorry – PollDaddy doesn’t seem to be working very well):

The “Reading the Lolita Effect in South Korea” series:

Golden Lady (골든레이디) by Lim Jeong-hee (임정희): Lyrics, Translation, and Explanation

Unlike From Noona With Love, the more K-pop idols I listen to, the more I find that can’t actually sing(!). But still, we can definitely agree on the abilities of Lim Jeong-hee (임정희), and I’m really glad I found out about her via Noona’s post.

As the lyrics reveal, I’m a Golden Lady is a short but sweet grrrl power piece, about a woman splitting up with her boyfriend and kicking him out of  her apartment. Yet while the music video does follow this narrative at first, then I think undermines it by singer G.NA (지나) all too readily accepting comedian Park Hwi-soon (박휘순) back whenever he brings her gifts later, even if she does literally beat him up immediately afterwards for trying to kiss her, hug her, or stroke her hair. Indeed, as that affection would surely be natural for a reconciled couple that used to share a bed, then, however comic, G.NA appears not so much empowered as a bit of a user.

But with such a beautiful voice, especially those nasal twangs in the chorus (see about 1:14 for instance), then I’ll more than forgive Jeong-hee for the MV. Liking her voice so much though, then you’d think I would have realized sooner that it’s not actually her that does the rap section from 2:29 to 2:49, but rather another (much more famous) Korean singer. See if you guess who, before all is revealed down the page…

Update – Also check out this version with an orchestra, to hear Jeong-hee’s voice away from the recording studio:

너 없이 어떻게 살아가냐고 바보 같은 질문 말아

나는 알아 너 같은 남자는 널려 있단걸

너 같은 남자가 아니더라도 전화 한 통에 달려올

그런 남자 나만 기다리는 남자는 많아

벌써 그 사람의 자동차 소리가 들려

이젠 내 집에서 좀 나가주겠니

아예 없던것처럼

Stop asking stupid questions, like how can I live without you

I know so many men like you

No matter how much they’d be like you, with just one phone call I’d have so many men chasing after me, only waiting for me

I can already hear the sound of his [their?] car

Now, why don’t you leave my home?

Take everything, as if you were never here

(Sources, all remaining screenshots: 1, 2)

Just focusing on those few things which I personally had difficulty with, although I’d be quite happy to explain anything more if anyone requests (and grateful to readers for pointing out any mistakes), the first is the “~날려 있다” in line 2.  With no relationship with the numerous meanings of the verb “날리다”, and not being in any grammar books of mine, I would never have guessed that it meant “lots of [something]” without the help of my wife.

Other than that, the only other thing I briefly struggled with was the verb ending “~겠니” in line 6, which means “aren’t you going to [verb] for me?”. I’d forgotten that – ahem – I’d already covered that in my translation of After School’s Ah! last June.

Next, it’s the chorus:

Hey I’m a golden lady 구차하게 왜 이래

내 내 내 내가 말로 해야만 알겠니

Hey I’m a golden lady 불쌍한 My baby

빼 빼 빼 이젠 발을 빼줘야 할 때야

야~ 이 집도 내가 산 거야 이 차도 내가 산거야

난 이런 여자 야~ 날 위해 살아온거야 그래서 소중한거야

Hey I’m a golden lady, why are you begging like this?

I, I, I…can you only understand if I have to say it?

Hey, I’m a golden lady, my poor, pitiful baby

Go, go, go…Hey, it’s time for you to step out for me

I bought this house too, and this car

Hey, I’m that kind of woman, I have been living for myself, so they’re valuable to me

In lines 1 and 3, both “구차하다” and “불쌍하다” translate as “poor, pitiful, wretched, humiliating” (and so on) according to my dictionary, but my wife says that it’s only the former that more means humiliating and pathetic, and the latter used for someone or thing you should feel sorry for.

열쇠는 놓고가 항상 놔두던 현관 입구 바구니에

안보이게 괜히 숨겨 갈 생각 하지 말고

니 옷은 챙겨줘 남기지 말고 내가 선물한 옷들도

그냥 줄게 남김 없이 싹 다 가지고 가줘

걸리적 거리니까 옆으로 비켜주겠니

이젠 현관에서 퇴장해 주겠니

아예 없던것처럼

Put your keys in the basket in the porch that you always put keys in

Don’t even think about hiding them

Take your clothes, even the ones I bought for you

I don’t want anything to remain, just take everything

You’re in the way, move!

Now, leave from the porch

As if you were never here

In line 5, “걸리적 거리다” is sort of slang for “you’re in way”, again courtesy of my wife.

Next, there’s a short version of the chorus, then the rap section. If you’re reading as you listen, scroll down very slowly if you want to guess who’s singing it before reaching the end:

Hey I’m a golden lady 구차하게 왜 이래

내 내 내 내가 말로 해야만 알겠니

Hey I’m a golden lady 불쌍한 My baby

빼 빼 빼 이젠 발을 빼줘야 할 때야

Hey I’m a golden lady, why are you begging like this?

I, I, I…can you only understand if I have to say it?

Hey, I’m a golden lady, my poor, pitiful baby

Go, go, go…Hey, it’s time for you to step out for me

불쌍한척 애교 좀 떨지마

지루한 너의 유먼 이젠 내겐 철 지난

옷과 같애 몇번을 또 말해야만

알아 듣고 내 앞에서 꺼지겠어? 이젠 안돼

나지막히 얘기할 때 나를 떠나줘

마지막이 아름답게 말을 말아 더

지긋지긋한 너의 어리광

차비라도 달라고 나 참 어이가 없어 Good bye

Don’t do that pretending-to-be-poor aegyo

Your tedious humor is now like last season’s clothes

Do I have to tell you time and time again?

Figure it out…will you get the hell away from in front of me? No more!

Now I’m telling you in a serious voice to leave me

To not ruin this end, say no more

I’m tired of your childishness

You’re even asking for a bus fare? I’ve had it with you! Goodbye!

(Source)

With apologies to Korean learners, I didn’t have any troubles at all with that section, although I’m sure I’ll come to rue those words as soon as better speakers than I get their teeth stuck into it!

As for the source of the rap, if you’d guessed HyunA (현아) of 4Minute (포미닛) then I’m impressed, as I had no idea until halfway through writing this post, when I stumbled across it by accident on some Kpop site…then belatedly noticed it mentioned in the title of the YouTube video I was originally using.

After that, it’s the full version of the chorus again, and already that’s the entire song. Like I said, short and sweet:

Hey I’m a golden lady 구차하게 왜 이래

내 내 내 내가 말로 해야만 알겠니

Hey I’m a golden lady 불쌍한 My baby

빼 빼 빼 이젠 발을 빼줘야 할 때야

야~ 이 집도 내가 산 거야 이 차도 내가 산거야

난 이런 여자 야~ 날 위해 살아온거야 그래서 소중한거야

Hey I’m a golden lady, why are you begging like this?

I, I, I…can you only understand if I have to say it?

Hey, I’m a golden lady, my poor, pitiful baby

Go, go, go…Hey, it’s time for you to step out for me

I bought this house too, and this car

Hey, I’m that kind of woman, I have been living for myself, so they’re valuable to me

Originally, I aimed to do much more background research on Jeong-hee before posting here (one of many resolutions made over my short blogging break), in her case checking out her other music videos to see if any more of her music features similar grrrl power themes. But as just this one example illustrates, music videos can often give a very misleading impression of a song’s lyrics, so unfortunately that project is going to require many more time-consuming translations,  rather than a lazy afternoon spent in front of Youtube. Until those are completed then, I’ll happily defer to readers’ greater knowledge of her (and/or recommendations on which of her other songs to start with), and will begin posting readers’ requests for other songs that I’ve been working on. Rather than putting some readers off in advance by choosing next week’s one myself though, please let me know which of those you’d like instead!^^

Update, 5pm Friday – Unfortunately, PollDaddy doesn’t give you a 5-day option for closing your poll (the closest is a week), but now is when I really need to start working on your selection for it to be ready for Monday. Thanks for you votes then, and Syndrome by Chocolat it is!

(For more Korean song translations, please see here)

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I am the Best (내가 제일 잘 나가) by 2NE1 (투애니원): Lyrics, Translation, and Explanation

(Source)

It’s a strange feeling, being disappointed by the release of a 2NE1 music video.

Perhaps the closest analogy would be a few weeks after you first leave home, when the excitement of non-stop partying wears off. Suddenly, you realize that it’s up to you to do the housework, take care of yourself, and somehow pay the bills. Maybe even—heaven forbid—go to bed at 10 like your parents did.

Likewise, Areia’s trance remixes of Follow Me (날 따라 해봐요) and especially Can’t Nobody are how I personally came to love 2NE1, and they’re such epics that I couldn’t help but be taken along for the ride. But, once the magic had worn off a little, I had to admit that their music videos made little sense really, placing the onus on YG Entertainment to produce something more original and coherent this time.

And in the same style as the above image, the teasers did make me hopeful, especially given the constant delays to its release. Like Ashley at Seoulbeats said:

Is it too much to hope for an entirely animated MV with with the girls clearing out a warehouse, Tomb Raider style? They’ve got guns!

But instead we got a veritable smorgasbord of images and props again:

About which Noelle of the (awesome) Always Rational K-Pop Podcast said:

Let’s see… CL the boxer (or wrestler, take your pick) and the mental patient in a straightjacket and later on with a kitten that looks suspiciously like one of my kittens; Bom in skintight leather and studs rocking the dominatrix look with a poodle; Dara in a sports car and later with a hat with two ice creams in metal; Minzi in armor (which reminds me of Joan of Arc) who shows off her nifty dance moves…and all the girls with guns shooting glass. Nice!

What can I say? Well, nothing much but yeah, the world is theirs to conquer.

To which I’d add the—yet again—outrageous expense of their outfits, which surely undermines their maverick and/or bad-girl image?

Much as I’d like to deconstruct Bom’s BDSM side then, or ponder the symbolism of CL stroking her pussy, the incoherence of the video defies such efforts, so I’ll wisely just concentrate on the lyrics here. But don’t get me wrong: disappointment at missed opportunities aside, the video is still very addictive(!), and I love the song itself so much that it’s no less than my second ever MP3 purchase! (600won/US$0.55 from Naver, if you’re curious)

UpdateMy First Love Story puts my love-hate relationship with the video very well:

“I Am The Best” is the title of the new 2NE1 single. Fitting, as 2NE1 may in fact be the best girl group in the world at this very moment. And this is taking into account that the above video is rather typical 2NE1. It’s flashy, sleek, and professional, but it’s not like we haven’t seen this type of look-book video from them time and again. Thankfully, a typical 2NE1 video is still worlds better than an amazing video by approximately 99% of other girl groups in the game right now.

Update 2 – And Subi at Seoulbeats discusses the question of if this music video means that 2NE1 is really as original and unique as they seem.

(Source, all screenshots)

내가 제일 잘 나가 (x4)

Bam Ratatata Tatatatata (x4)

Oh my god

누가 봐도 내가 좀 죽여주잖아

둘째가라면 이 몸이 서럽잖아

넌 뒤를 따라오지만 난 앞만 보고 질주해

네가 앉은 테이블 위를 뛰어다녀 I don’t care

건드리면 감당 못해 I’m hot hot hot hot fire

뒤집어지기 전에 제발 누가 날 좀 말려

I am the best (x4)

Bam Ratatata Tatatatata (x4)

Oh my god

Whoever sees me thinks I’m a little killing hot

To be second to someone would be such a pity

You follow behind me, but I look ahead and race forward

I jump around on the table you sit at, I don’t care

If you touch me you won’t be able to bear it

Someone stop me before I go crazy

I’m surprised to learn that this is actually only the second 2NE1 song I’ve translated on the blog, and so will try to speed up the other 2 or 3 almost-completed ones I have floating around on my hard drive somewhere. Until then, please take my word for it that the brevity of their lyrics tends to belie their vagueness and contradictions, and in particular that subjects and objects are so often omitted in this song that—lest they make the translation unreadable—I decided to forgo all the extra square brackets to indicate my guesses (but I think I’ve got most of them right!).

That caveat aside, in line 4 “killing hot” is my wife’s literal translation, but which I’m sure you can make more natural-sounding in English (“looks to die for”? “looks that kill”?). Likewise, I thought the “a little” (좀) detracted from, maybe even flatly contradicted the point that she was very attractive, but as it’s in the original Korean then there you have it.

Fortunately the rest is just a matter of getting the dictionary out, as is the next verse, so I’ll pass it on without comment. But as always, please feel free to ask any questions about anything I don’t cover (and I’ll add my explanations in the corresponding sections of the post).

옷장을 열어 가장 상큼한 옷을 걸치고

거울에 비친 내 얼굴을 꼼꼼히 살피고

지금은 여덟 시 약속시간은 여덟 시 반

도도한 걸음으로 나선 이 밤

내가 제일 잘 나가 (x4)

I open my wardrobe and throw on my sweetest clothes, then

meticulously inspect my face shining in the mirror

Now it’s 8, my appointment is at half past

I leave this night with a proud, arrogant step

I am the best (x4)

내가 봐도 내가 좀 끝내주잖아

네가 나라도 이 몸이 부럽잖아

남자들은 날 돌아보고 여자들은 따라해

내가 앉은 이 자리를 매일 넘봐 피곤해

선수인척 폼만 잡는 어리버리한 Playa

넌 바람 빠진 타이어처럼 보기 좋게 차여

어떤 비교도 난 거부해 이건 겸손한 얘기

가치를 논하자면 나는 Billion dollar baby

뭘 쫌 아는 사람들은 다 알아서 알아봐

아무나 잡고 물어봐 누가 제일 잘 나가?

내가 제일 잘 나가 (x4)

Whoever sees me thinks my look is the end

Even if you were me, you would be envious of my body

Men turn their heads and look at me, women follow me

I am tired of people trying to take my place [as number one] everyday

A stupid, naive playa who only poses like one

Like a tire that’s had it’s air let out, you look well rejected

I don’t accept some comparison, this is my modest story

If you planned to guess my worth, then I’m a billion dollar baby

People who know about stuff, recognize all this by themselves

Grab anyone and ask: who is the best?

Lulled into a false sense of security by the previous verses, this one frankly had me wanting to rip my hair out. Fortunately, I don’t actually have any, but you get the idea!

  • In line 1, as you can probably guess “my look is the end” is a literal translation, but note that it means exactly the same thing as “I’m a little killing hot” in the corresponding line in Verse 1.
  • If you’re confused by line 2, because you think that if you were one of the 2NE1 members then surely you wouldn’t be jealous of their body because it was now yours, then you’re not alone. So please don’t shoot the messenger!
  • In line 3, don’t misread the “돌아보다” like I originally did: it’s not “돌보다”, which means “to look after”.
  • Line 4 is literally “athlete-pretend-form/pose[only]-grab[that]-stupid/naive-playa”…after reading which I seriously began to despair. But my wife telling me that “선수” (athlete) also means “playa” in many contexts helped, and our final “a stupid, naive playa who only poses like one” does make some sense: the guy referred to is a poser rather than a genuine playa perhaps?
  • Line 7 would be better translated to “Nobody compares to me” in English, but what’s up there is closer to the original Korean. No, I don’t think that that’s a “modest story” either.
  • Line 9 I couldn’t make any head or tail of, and so the translation is entirely my wife’s. I throw myself on the mercy of the court!

In compensation for the difficulty I had with all that though, fortunately the song is already almost over:

누가? 네가 나보다 더 잘 나가?

No no no no!

Na na na na! (x4)

Bam Ratatata Tatatatata (x4)

Oh my god

Who? You are better than me?

No no no no!

Na na na na! (x4)

Bam Ratatata Tatatatata (x4)

Oh my god

And on that note, apologies for the slight delay with this post. But for my severest critics demanding to get involved however, then it would have been up several hours ago:

Girls on Top (걸스온탑) by BoA (보아): Lyrics, Translation, & Explanation

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Why open a post about music with a mascara ad? Good question, to which the simple answer would be that Girls on Top came out nearly 6 years ago, and high-quality, eye-catching images of BoA from back then are hard to find. But also, serendipitously, it helps focus our minds on just how unconventional the song is.

In particular, ponder how “sexy” she appears in it. With her exposed navel; navel piercing; hand thrust in jeans; tight clothes; confident gaze at the viewer; hole in her clothes deliberately revealing her chest; and long windswept hair, then she’s every inch the sexually-empowered and assertive female, or at least modern advertising’s definition of one.

But still, that slight body cant does look a little awkward. And with her head raised back, accentuated by the BDSM-like clothing that covers her neck, then surely I’m not the only one reminded of poses you usually only see done by porn stars?

And just how sexy do those porn stars themselves feel doing them? Take Alex Arden for instance, a former Penthouse “Pet of the Month” (July 2001, if you’re curious):

When you get yourself into the really contortionist position that you’ve got to hold up and your back hurts and you’ve got to suck in your stomach, you’ve got to stick your hips out, you’ve got to arch your back and you’ve got to stick your butt out all at the same time and suck in and hold your breath, you don’t feel sexy. You feel pain. And you feel like you want to kill [the photographer].

Like Ariel Levy says in Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, from which that was taken (p. 42), “if sexy means passionate or invested in one’s own fantasies and sexual proclivities, then the pictorials [in Penthouse] don’t quite do it.” Nor, I’d wager, that ad.

Now compare the back and front covers of BoA’s Girls on Top album from 2005:

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About which her Wikipedia page says:

BoA reinvented her image on her fourth Korean album, My Name (2004); she left the “cute” and “youthful” style that had characterized previous years and presented herself as “sexy” and “sultry”.[7][19] The album was the beginning of a foray into the Chinese market and contained two songs sung in Mandarin Chinese.[19] The sales of BoA’s Korean albums began to decline: the album sold 191,000 units and became the eleventh-best-selling South Korean album of the year.[20] Her fifth Korean album, Girls on Top, continued her image change. The album portrayed the singer as more “mature and self-confident” and was a “declaration of war on male chauvinism”; the “bohemian” look of the cover photograph represented “freedom and depth”, while music videos and album photographs that portrayed BoA in traditional Korean dress brought the “idea of Korean womanhood” into her music. The album also continued BoA’s foray into the Chinese market and, like the previous album, contained Mandarin Chinese songs.[21] The album sold less than the previous album; it was the fourteenth-best-selling record of the year in South Korea with 113,000 units sold.[22]

Granted, the album covers don’t set out to present a sexy image of BoA per se. But if one considers the subjects themselves feeling sexy to be essential to them looking attractive (and hey, it’s important enough to affect the way women rate men at least), then those covers win by default (my weakness for smouldering stares notwithstanding).

Which leads me to the song itself, which I chose to look at because a reader sent me the following intriguing email:

…I have been following your girl group lyric translations but there’s one song I am really curious about, mostly because I’d like to know if it’s as overtly feminist as I suspect it is…

…It’s not only the gold lamé and skull ring that’s tough but the part at the end where she fake kicks her male dancers into submission in a Take Back the Night inspired bit of of pop choreography. I know you’re focusing mostly on girl groups, but I think this one’s interesting in the context of K-pop because it seems to fall outside the two ever present concepts of “sexy” and “cute.” I have tried to find the lyrics in English but most of them are poorly done. What I’ve gleaned so far is that she may be talking about the myriad conflicting expectations a modern girl must fulfill and might even be bemoaning the constant pressure to embody male views of sexiness (!). Or it could be a girl power-lite anthem conceived by greedy business men; but either way I’d like to hear your views.

Whereas the concept of “cute” really needs no explanation, it’s the mascara ad that helped me realize what version of “sexy” BoA might have been trying to avoid – and challenge – in Girls on Top (although I beg to differ on that being a “male view of [female] sexiness,” and would argue that it’s more a media one). Certainly the choreography and costumes give that impression:

As do the lyrics in this English version, although unfortunately they don’t at all match the Korean ones (and, call me picky, but that picture of her is actually from 2010!):

Or at least, what I think the Korean ones are. Maybe I’m just rusty, as it’s been 2 months since I last translated any song lyrics, but even my wife and sister-in-law really struggled with understanding some of these ones, let alone with what they might be in English. I apologize in advance for the numerous mistakes then, and would really appreciate any corrections:

모든게 나에게 여자가 여자다운 것을 강요해

날 바라보는 네 야릇한 시선들이 난 싫어

(약한 여자 사랑에 약한 여자)

내게 강요하지마 틀에 갇혀버릴 내가 아닌 걸

(내뜻대로) 전부 나의 뜻대로

Everything forces me to be feminine

I hate your strange stares as you gaze at me

(A woman that goes crazy in love, a woman that goes crazy in love)

Don’t force me, don’t confine me in a cage

(My way) Everything done my way

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Line 1 is literally “everything-to me-woman-womanly-thing-force”, which hopefully gives you an inkling of how open to interpretation these song lyrics are. Next, in line 2, “야릇하다” means “odd; queer; strange; peculiar; curious; mysterious” according to my electronic dictionary, but I’d be interested in hearing from someone who gets much more everyday speaking practice than me (probably most of you!) if it has connotations of “sleazy” or something like that, which sounds more appropriate for the song. Either way, in line 3 by “crazy in love” I mean someone who gets distracted and/or can’t think straight when in love rather than being deeply in love, and finally in line 4 “틀” is technically a “frame” that she’s confined to, but – after being distracted by the “think outside of the box” idiom for a while – I think “cage” works better in English.

Next is the chorus:

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나는 나인걸 누구도 대신 하지 말아

(그렇게 만만하게 넘어갈 내가 아니야)

내 모습 그대로 당당하고 싶어

(그늘에 갇혀 사는 여자를 기대하진 마)

I am myself, nobody can replace me

(I’m not someone who lets go easily like that)

Myself, I want to be confident

Don’t expect a woman who hides in the shade

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Two things in this verse, I couldn’t have understood without a native speaker to help. The first in line 1 – “나는 나인걸”, literally “I am myself” – probably because my Korean isn’t remotely as good as I like to think, but “넘어가다” in line 2 has no less than 11 meanings, only the last of which “be swallowed; be choked down; be taken/got down; be drunk in” sounds remotely like the “let go [take/endure it]” that my wife said it means.

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섹시한 차분한 영원히 한 남자만 아는 따분함 그건 바로 착각 모든 남자들의 관심사

난 이 세상을 모두 바꿔버릴 꿈을 다 가진걸

Get it up 난 부족해 Get it up 모든 게 다 말이 되지 않잖아

그들만의 평등 같은 건 그대들이 만든 기준에 맞게

The boring notion [that women] want forever to be with only one sexy, quiet man is a direct illusion that all men are under

A dream I have can change everything in this world

Get it up I am insufficient Get it up Everything doesn’t make sense

Their thing like equality only matches their standards

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Yeah, I liked the “get it up” too, a barb very appropriate for the tone of this song, but the level of the Konglish in the rest of the song means it’s probably accidental. And any humor I found in it was soon ruined by trying to figure out those god-awful opening couple of lines, which I wish I’d realized much earlier (and have consequently presented as) were actually just the one.

In a nutshell, they say “sexy-quiet/calm-eternally-one-man only-know-boredom/weariness-that-directly-illusion-all-man’s-affair/interest”. After half an hour’s discussion between my wife, sister-in-law, and I (and – for good measure – my daughters trying to get us to talk about farting instead), we think that “The boring notion [that women] want forever to be with only one sexy, quiet man is a direct illusion that all men are under” is what is meant, but accept that – repeated distracting farting sounds aside – it doesn’t really make sense in the context of the song, and so are more than open to alternatives.

Meanwhile, it’s my significant other that says that “말이 되지 않잖아” means “doesn’t make sense”. And on that note – lest we’ve made mistakes with those also – that from “Get it up” to the final “맞게” was originally 3 lines, but I’ve rearranged them so that they make sense for you at least!

Next is the chorus again, then the next verse. But I don’t think there’s really anything to explain in it, although I’m quite happy to if anyone wants me to:

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모든게 나에게 여자가 여자다운 것을 강요해

더 이상은 참지 말아

Shake it Everything I like that

마음을 더 열어봐 우린 같은 곳을 향해가잖아

모두 함께 영원할텐데

서로 다른 성일뿐 존재하기 위한 인간인걸

Why 이젠 부정하지마

Everything forces me to be feminine

Don’t endure it any more

Shake it Everything I like that

Try opening my heart more, we both want the same thing

With everything eternally

Each other, we are humans that only exist to be different sexes

Why Now don’t deny it

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남자들 모두가 세상의 진리는 절대로 불변의 법칙이라고

이 칼을 잡은 난 세상의 지배자

힘의 논리 남자만의 법칙들

아주 웃기시네 Blurr Blurr Blurr Blurr

(Do you need money? I pay you)

돈에 눈이 멀어 자존심을 사는 남자

그대 이젠 맞이해라 Dooms and a Dooms

자 이제 보아 얘길 담아 듣자

새 시대 Story Girls on Top

All men [say/think] the world’s truth is an absolute, unchangeable law

I [am] the world’s leader grabbing this knife

Strength’s logic is only men’s rule

Yeah, right Blurr Blurr Blurr Blurr

(Do you need money? I pay you)

Men that only have eyes for money buy pride

Now you greet/welcome Dooms and a Dooms

Well, now listen carefully to BoA’s story

New age, Story Girls on Top

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Spoken with the confidence of someone with 2 bilingual speakers helping him, but that was refreshingly easy!

First, in line 1 I wrote “say/think” because which one it is isn’t actually mentioned in the indirect speech (there’s nothing after “법칙이라고”). Then in line 3, “웃기시네” is slang for “Yeah, right” (with or without the “아주”), and finally in line 5 “눈이 멀어” literally means “eyes far”, but combined with “[something]에” then it means “only have eyes for [something]”.

And now we’re in the home straight:

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이 세상의 반 그건 여자들이 만들거야

(Go baby Girl Rise up Throw your hands up Do you like that)

당당하게 난 멀리 앞을 향해 걸어갈래

(Go baby Go baby)

Women will make half of this world

(Go baby Girl Rise up Throw your hands up Do you like that)

I will walk further forward confidently

(Go baby Go baby)

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Again I got a little distracted by the first line, originally thinking it was an allusion to Mao-Zedong’s quote that “women hold up half the sky”, but apart from that then there’s not much of note language-wise there. And with just the chorus after that, then now it’s time to ponder the original question of whether BoA is “talking about the myriad conflicting expectations a modern girl must fulfill, [maybe even] bemoaning the constant pressure to embody male views of sexiness”, or if the song is merely “a girl power-lite anthem conceived by greedy business men”?

What do you think?

The cynic in me says the latter, as it’s just too incoherent to justify the former, no matter how much I’d like to. But some things may well be be lost in translation, and as this is in fact the very first song of BoA’s I’ve ever really listened to — let alone translated — then I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. Indeed, although frankly I don’t particularly like it, it’s definitely piqued my interest in both the development of her image over the last 10 years, especially in her American debut with Eat You Up in 2008 (covered extensively in “Playing the Race and Sexuality Cards in the Transnational Pop Game: Korean Music Videos for the US Market” by Eun-Young Jung in Journal of Popular Music Studies Volume 22, Issue 2, pages 219–236, June 2010; email me for a copy), and also in how female singers and girl groups use sexuality to rebrand themselves (and for more on that, see ‘What’s Your Definition of Dirty, Baby?’: Sex in Music Video” by Andsager, J.  & Roe, K. in Sexuality and Culture, 2003, Vol 7; PART 3, pages 79-97; again, email me for a copy).

So, needless to say, I’ll be covering some more BoA songs this summer!^^

Mirror Mirror (거울아 거울아) by 4Minute (포미닛): Lyrics, Translation, and Explanation

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For many Korean girl groups, debuting a new song on a music program seems to follow a set script these days:

  • First, it will include some provocative lyrics, choreography, and/or outfits that deliberately push the envelope
  • Then, despite presumably knowing that well in advance, the producers of the program will still allow the song to be performed, only then to disassociate themselves from it and claim shock and surprise at the ensuing reaction
  • Next, those songs will be will be banned from future broadcasts unless changes to the offending parts are made
  • Equally absurdly, the performers themselves or their entertainment companies will claim shock and surprise that people find them sexually suggestive at all
  • Finally, despite those protestations, the groups will have modified versions of the song available to be used suspiciously quickly

It’s really quite a farcical process, and very patronizing to viewers.

Nevertheless, while nobody emerges unblemished from all that, it’s the entertainment companies that I’m most critical of. For rather than actually admitting to the sexuality in their groups’ performances, thereby placing the onus on the music program producers and public to explain just what is it that is so problematic about that exactly, instead they even force their own performers to be complicit in a longheld narrative of female virginity and innocence in K-pop.

Granted, they may lack the clout to challenge terrestrial broadcasters on that point, nor is there much evidence that they possess the feminist motivations to do so. However, even just for financial reasons one would expect more of a challenge to systematic double standards in the Korean music industry, as the various restrictions on girl group performances can often be quite costly.

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As for how that all recently played out with Mirror Mirror (거울아 거울아) by 4Minute (포미닛), see the links in the list above, while Mixtapes and Liner Notes has more on Rania’s (라니아) performance of Dr. Feel Good (닥터 필 굿) specifically. Two of the three controversial songs that debuted on Music Bank on April the 8th (the other was Do You Know/아나요 by the Brave Girls/브레이브 걸스), unfortunately Mirror Mirror is the only one of them I like enough to listen to – yes, sans eye-candy – on my MP3 player!

Yes, however crass, it does indeed sound like Hyuna is saying “4 minute slut” at the beginning. As for the translation, the vocabulary and grammar were relatively easy for a change, and the song mercifully short and repetitive too. But some unclear breaks between sentences and strange word orders definitely complicated things:

Let’s go

4minutes left 4minutes left Ah! Ah!

4minutes left 4minutes left Ah! Ah!

대체 왜 그땐 날 거들떠 보지 않고

매일 날 그대만 바라보게 만들고

오늘은 좀더 예쁘게 나 나 나 날 (오늘도)

보여줘 너무 멋진 너 너 너 너 너에게

거울아 거울아 이 세상에 누가 제일 예쁘니?

거울아 거울아 이 세상에 내가 제일 예쁘니?

오늘만은 내가 제일 예쁘다고 말해줘 봐

Let’s go

4minutes left 4minutes left Ah! Ah!

4minutes left 4minutes left Ah! Ah!

Why on Earth didn’t you notice me back then?

Everyday, you made me gaze only at you

Today, show me me me me a little more prettily  (today too)

To very cool you you you you

Hey Mirror, hey Mirror, who is the prettiest in the world?

Hey Mirror, hey Mirror, am I the prettiest in the world?

Just for today, please try saying I’m the prettiest

Here, “대체” is short for “도대체” (on Earth), and a new one for me was “거들떠보다” (not even notice/look). Otherwise:

  • the “바라보게 만들다” in line 4 is a long causative, which there’s a lot of in this song (see p. 368 of Korean Grammar for International Learners [KGIL] for more information)
  • See Seamus Walsh’s comment here for more on the “니” ending in lines 7 and 8
  • And of course the last line is some simple indirect speech. Although it’s awkward in English, I include a “try” in it (and similar sentences in later verses) because technically, “보다” added to a verb stem does indeed mean “try to do [the verb]”

All basic stuff by this, my twelfth song translation for the blog. But lines 3 and 4 were a bit of a stumbling block until my wife pointed out that actually a break falls between “오늘은 좀더 예쁘게 나 나 나 날 (오늘도) 보여줘” and “너무 멋진 너 너 너 너 너에게”.

너를 생각하면 더 거울에 비친 내 모습은 마치

너무 예쁜데 너는 자꾸 왜 다른 생각만 하는지

왜 날 보지 않는건데

내 거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

내 거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

It’s as if my reflection becomes prettier the more I think of you

Why do you frequently think differently?

Why do you not look at me?

My mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

Hey Mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

My mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

Hey Mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

Again, Lines 1 & 2 become much easier if you know there’s a break between “너를 생각하면 더 거울에 비친 내 모습은 마치 너무 예쁜데” and “너는 자꾸 왜 다른 생각만 하는지”, but this time the location of the “더” complicates things even further. Ideally, it should be placed before the “예쁜데” in line 2.

Update: With thanks to J.Goard for pointing out it, actually that pattern is perfectly acceptable in Korean, and quite common.

대체 왜 언제나 본 체 만 체만 하고

매일 밤 너는 날 가슴 뛰게 만들어

언제나 너무 멋진 너 너 너 너 너

내게로 다가오게 더 더 더 더 더 Ma boy

거울아 거울아 이 세상에 누가 제일 예쁘니?

거울아 거울아 이 세상에 내가 제일 예쁘니?

처음부터 마음에 들었다고 내게 말해줘 봐

Why on Earth do you always pretend not to see me, and

make my heart pound every night?

Always so cool you you you you you

Come more more more more and more closer to me Ma boy

Hey Mirror, hey Mirror, who is the prettiest in the world?

Hey Mirror, hey Mirror, am I the prettiest in the world?

Please try to say that from the beginning, I was the one for you

And here, again there’s a long causative in line 2 – “가슴 뛰게 만들어” – but the “날” before that (me [object]) is I think ungrammatical, and it should really say “내” (my) instead. Before that, the phrase “본 체 만 체” (pretend not to see; show indifference to; slight) was a new one on me, and it didn’t help that I forgot that “[verb] + (으)ㄴ/는 체하다” was the same as “[verb] + (으)ㄴ/는 척하다” (to pretend to [verb])”! (see p. 58 of KGIL)

Next, it’s just the chorus again.

너를 생각하면 더 거울에 비친 내 모습은 마치

너무 예쁜데 너는 자꾸 왜 다른 생각만 하는지

왜 날 보지 않는건데 예~

내 거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

내 거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

It’s as if my reflection becomes prettier the more I think of you

Why do you frequently think differently?

Why do you not look at me?

My mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

Hey Mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

My mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

Hey Mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

Oh mirror shine Let me fix my make up

Break it down Break it down

Baby I like that Baby baby just I like that

Baby I like that Baby baby just I like that

더 더 더 내게 빠져들어

Shine on my face 모두 놀라지 Oh

거울아 거울아 이 세상에서 누가 제일 예쁘니? It’s me

Oh mirror shine Let me fix my make up

Break it down Break it down

Baby I like that Baby baby just I like that

Baby I like that Baby baby just I like that

Become fallen into me more more more

Shine on my face everybody surprised Oh

Hey Mirror, hey Mirror, who is the prettiest in the world? It’s me

In line 5, I was confused by how “빠져들어” is different to “빠지다” (to fall into/for), and the best explanation my wife could provide was that it means “become fallen for”. Which is just fine with me, but it does sound a little awkward.  Can anybody do any better?

Update: With thanks again to J.Goard, see here for a much fuller description of how they’re different exactly.

And suddenly it’s already the last verse:

좀더 너에게 다가가서 난 1,2 step 1,2 step 1,2 step

Let’s live it up Let’s make it up

나를 보면 니 마음 흔들릴수 있게

내 거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

내 거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아

I’ll come a little closer to you, I 1,2 step 1,2 step 1,2 step

Let’s live it up Let’s make it up

If you see me I can make your heart shake

My mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

Hey Mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

My mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

Hey Mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

And on that note, here is an alternate translation by Chris @4-minute.com, which you can use to follow-along with the video:

As you can see, fortunately our versions seem pretty much the same, although his(?) sounds rather better because he hasn’t been quite so literal with his choice of words!

Meanwhile, apologies to any readers that may have been expecting a promised(?) translation of Can’t Nobody by 2NE1 (투애니원) instead today, but unfortunately my finally getting tired of that after listening to it for probably the 100th time(!) coincided with me getting heavily into this one, and besides which I wanted to do something more recent for a change. Having said that, next I’ll actually be doing the 2005 song Girls on Top by BoA (보아), because a reader sent me the following intriguing email:

…I have been following your girl group lyric translations but there’s one song I am really curious about, mostly because I’d like to know if it’s as overtly feminist as I suspect it is. The song would be Boa’s “Girls on Top”…

…It’s not only the gold lamé and skull ring that’s tough but the part at the end where she fake kicks her male dancers into submission in a Take Back the Night inspired bit of of pop choreography. I know you’re focusing mostly on girl groups, but I think this one’s interesting in the context of K-pop because it seems to fall outside the two ever present concepts of “sexy” and “cute.” I have tried to find the lyrics in English but most of them are poorly done. What I’ve gleaned so far is that she may be talking about the myriad conflicting expectations a modern girl must fulfill and might even be bemoaning the constant pressure to embody male views of sexiness (!). Or it could be a girl power-lite anthem conceived by greedy business men; but either way I’d like to hear your views.

Until then, I hope you a good weekend, and as always I’d appreciate any feedback on the translation and/or your thoughts on the song!^^

Update: I’ve just found these profiles of the group members on korean lovers photoblog, and thought they might be useful for future reference:

(For more Korean song translations, please see here)

So Hot by the Wondergirls (원더걸스): Lyrics, Translation, & Explanation

(Source)

It’s been a long time since I’ve thought much about the Wonder Girls (원더걸스).

To be precise, not since writing these posts back in April 2008. And in which I was pretty critical of manager JYP’s (박진영) overly sexual marketing of them, and especially of the Korean public’s collective refusal to acknowledge that. After all, band member Ahn So-hee (안소희) was only 15 at the time.

Maybe too critical though, and since then I’ve written much more nuanced posts on the issues that that raised, partially in response to reading excellent alternative perspectives by Gord Sellar and Matt at Gusts of Popular Feeling. But still, I did feel vindicated when So Hot came out just a few weeks later, especially as it was advertised on mainstream Korean portal sites with GIFs of the music video like these on their front pages. One of which, like Matt wrote, comes from the same point (0:17) as a breathy “Oh! Oh!” in the track, and “if you looped it, you’d have a porn soundtrack.”

Feeling a little smug then, and not particularly liking any of their songs either – they’re generally much too slow for my tastes – I’ve deliberately avoided listening to the Wondergirls ever since. Yet nearly 3 years later, not only do I suddenly find that, like them or not, I have to research them, but literally just as I started MellowYel at Mixtapes and Linear Notes wrote a compelling post in which she argues that, basically, “most South Korean girl group concepts since 2007 have been determined by the Wonder Girls”, and that this points to JYP being simply “great at finding formulas that work”. And she’s by no means the first person to make those arguments to me either, although she is the first to pass on such convincing evidence.

So hey, while I’ll always consider JYP a sexist pig, I can still acknowledge his musical and marketing skills. And in light of those, then it’s high time for me to reconsider the Wondergirls, and I’d be very interested in and would appreciate hearing readers’ own takes on So Hot to start. Particularly on what you think it’s about really, as it seems so narcissistic that it may even be a satire, especially considering the comic elements in the video.

Having just praised JYP’s marketing skills though, then I’m really surprised at the poor quality of the official one available:

For the sake of getting the gist, here’s another one with subtitles, although there’s a few basic mistakes with the English:

Finally, the lyrics themselves, most of which are so easy that they could be featured in lower-intermediate Korean textbooks at least. Certainly they’d make for more interesting classes than discussions of temple visits and making kimchee that are the normal fare:

왜 자꾸 쳐다보니 왜에에

내가 그렇게 예쁘니 이이

아무리 그렇다고 그렇게 쳐다보면

내가 좀 쑥스럽잖니 이이

내가 지나갈 때 마다 아아

고갤 돌리는 남자들 을을

뒤에서 느껴지는 뜨거운 시선들

어떻게 하면 좋을지 이이

Why do you look at me so often? Why~?

Am I that pretty?

No matter how pretty I am, if you look at me like that

I get embarrassed , yes?

Every time I walk past [them]

Men that turn their heads

I feel their hot gazes behind me

If that happens, what’s best to do?

(Source)

Here, the frequent “니” endings are a short, informal version of the very formal “~ㅁ니까” ones for asking questions, which is why I added a question mark to them in lines 1 and 2. Line 4 though, is a little more complicated, because there’s a “잖” (short for “잖아”) in the “쑥스럽다” (“embarrassed”), which is used a lot in daily speech when the listener (albeit only an equal or someone of lower status) already knows well – or should know well – what the speaker is saying, as explained in my scan of pages 130-131 from 한국어 문형 표현 100 below (a wonderful book, which teaches Korean learners the differences between 100 commonly confused grammar points). Having that in a question form though, sounds really strange, and so my wife and I think the nuance of the “잖니” ending is effectively that of a tag question, i.e. “지”. It also implies that she’s really talking to herself too.

Before that, in line 3 the “아무리 그렇다고” basically means “no matter [the previous sentences]”. Then in line 7, “고갤” (short for “고개를”) literally translates as “scruff off the neck”, which can be misleading in this video in particular because, in English, “to take something by the scruff of the neck”  means to completely control it (i.e. precisely what the girls in the video seem to be doing of the men), whereas it really just means “head”.

Next, in line 8, the “지” in “좋을지” is very strange, and I’m not sure that it is a actually a tag question, as I first thought. Either way, my wife assures me that here at least it basically means “~ㄹ까”, an ending you use when you’re asking someone’s opinion, which means she’s literally asking “what is good?”. Hence my “what’s best to do?”.

Finally, although the chorus is very short and easy, I’ll add it separately below, just to make it easier to find. In it, I’ve translated “너무” as “so”, as even though the dictionary gives “too”, in my experience it’s used as “very” (or, indeed, “so”) just as often. I was a little confused by “너무 매력 있어” in line 2 though, because I’ve always learned that “매력” meant “attractiveness”, with “매력적이다” meaning “attractive”. By itself, “매력(이) 있어”, literately “attractiveness have” seems fine too, but what on Earth is the “very’ before that doing there? Is “매력” a noun, an adjective, or what?

It didn’t seem very important, so I gave up and just went with “I’m so attractive”!

(Source)

I′m so hot 난 너무 예뻐요

I′m so fine 난 너무 매력 있어

I′m so cool 난 너무 멋져

I’m so so so hot hot

I’m so hot, I’m so pretty

I’m so fine, I’m so attractive

I’m so cool, I’m so cool

I’m so so so hot hot

(Source)

언제나 나를 향한 눈길들이 이

항상 따라오는 이 남자들이 이

익숙해 질 때도 된 것 같은데

왜 아직도 부담스러운지 이

조용히 살고 싶은데 에에

다른 여자애들처럼 엄엄

엄마는 왜 날 이렇게 나놨어

내 삶을 피곤하게 하는지

Gazes are always turned towards me

These men always follow me

And I think it’s time to get used to it

Why is it still a burden

I just want to live quietly

Just like other girls

Why did my mother give birth to me like this?

I don’t know why something is making my life so tiring

(Source)

Not quite so much to discuss here fortunately.

First in line 3 – “익숙해 질 때도 된 것 같은데” – I confess I don’t know what the “도” (again? also? too?) is doing there exactly, and am open to suggestions, but meanwhile I was “cough” happy to notice the past tense marker “ㄴ” in “된”, giving, literally, “get useㅇ to it – time – 도? – has come – I guess”.

Next, in line 7, “나놨지” had me completely stumped, and no wonder: my wife explained it was a combination of “낳다” (to be born) and “놓다” (to be put). Knowing that, and with the mother mentioned at the beginning, then I think the intention was “Why did my mother make me like this”, as indeed most other translations have put it. That was really tempting, but then at the very least my awkward “Why did my mother give birth to me like this?” does sort of acknowledge the “born” element to the sentence for learners. And, who knows? Maybe the original Korean does indeed more mean she was born the way she was (due to genes), as opposed to being made a certain way (which in English, implies more one’s personality has).

Finally, line 8 is made easier if you know there’s an unspoken “모르겠다” at the end. And as for “피곤하게”, I identified it as a causative construction, as discussed by commenter dogdyedblack here.

Moving on then, next there’s just an extended version of the chorus again:

(Source)

I’m so hot 난 너무 예뻐요

I’m so fine 난 너무 매력있어

I’m so cool 난 너무 멋져

I’m so so so hot hot hot

I’m so hot 난 너무 예뻐요

I’m so fine 난 너무 매력있어

I’m so cool 난 너무 멋져

I’m so so so hot hot hot

Everybody’s watching me, cause I′m hot hot

Everybody’s wanting me, cause I′m hot hot

I’m so hot, I’m so pretty

I’m so fine, I’m so attractive

I’m so cool, I’m so cool

I’m so so so hot hot

I’m so hot, I’m so pretty

I’m so fine, I’m so attractive

I’m so cool, I’m so cool

I’m so so so hot hot

Everybody’s watching me, cause I′m hot hot

Everybody’s wanting me, cause I′m hot hot

(Source: unknown)

언제나 어디서나 날 따라 다니는 이 스포트 라이트

어딜 가나 쫓아오지 식당 길거리 카페 나이트

도대체 얼마나 나일 들어야

이놈의 인기는 시그러들지 원

섹시한 내 눈은 고소영

아름다운 내 다리는 좀 하지 원

어쩌면 좋아 모두 나를 좋아 하는것 같애

Oh no, lease leave me alone

All the boys be loving me, girls be hating me

They will never stop, cause they know I’m so hot hot

Everywhere, all the time, this spotlight that follows me

Chases me wherever I go: restaurants; the streets; cafes; nightclubs

How old do I have to get in order for

my damn popularity to wither? Sigh…

My sexy eyes [are like] Go So-young’s

My beautiful legs [are a] little [like] Ha Ji-won’s

What should I do to make things good? I guess everybody loves me

Oh no, please leave me alone

All the boys be loving me, girls be hating me

They will never stop, cause they know I’m so hot hot

(Helpful picture of Go So-young’s “sexy eyes”. Source)

First up, in lines 1 & 2, I’m a little confused as to why “this spotlight” (이 스포트라이트), which is modified by the relative clause “that follows me” (날 따라 다니는), is later described as chasing her (쫓아오지, with the “지” probably being a tag question), which seems to be unnecessary repetition; but it’s there, so hence the awkward English.

Next, the “어야” ending at the end of line 3 had me stumped for a while, as while it’s clearly not the same as the “이야” described on page 181 of Korean Grammar for International Learners (KGIL), as discussed in the last song translation, I wasn’t entirely sure that it was the very basic “~어/아/야 하다” form, which means having to do something. Eventually though, I discovered something on pages 307-308, which not only doesn’t require a “하다”, but connects it much better to the next sentence:

Line 4 after that has the wonderful “이놈의”, which means “damn”, and the final “원” in it is rarely found in written form, but basically means “sigh”. The meaning of the “지” in “시그러들다” though (to wither), I confess left my wife and I completely stumped.

Finally, at first I though the  “어쩌면” in line 7 was simply the dictionary definition of “어쩌다” (1 – occasionally; 2) accidentally, unexpectedly) plus “면” (usually “if”),  but my wife told me that the full phrase “어쩌면 좋아” means “What should I do to make [it, things] good”, which makes it very similar to the “어쩌지” of the last song translation (see #3 here for more on that).

And but for one final round of the chorus, that’s that!

(Likewise, of one of Ha Ji-won’s “beautiful legs”. Source)

I′m so hot 난 너무 예뻐요

I′m so fine 난 너무 매력 있어

I′m so cool 난 너무 멋져

I’m so so so hot hot

I’m so hot, I’m so pretty

I’m so fine, I’m so attractive

I’m so cool, I’m so cool

I’m so so so hot hot

As always, thanks in advance for pointing out any mistakes, and or giving alternate translations – I really learn a lot from them. And with this particular song, like I said I’m a little stumped as to what its about really, so thanks also for any insights you can give me!

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