Give it to me (줄래) by Lee Jeong-hyeon (이정현): Lyrics and Translation

It feels like a long time since I’ve posted something here simply because I liked it. So, let me put what I had planned aside for a moment and remedy that, starting by passing on this video of “internet DJ” Lee Jeong-hyeon (이정현), covering the 2000 hit Give it to me (줄래) by the singer of the same name. The next time I’m harping on about the evils of aegyo and female infantilization in Korea popular culture, please remind me of how much I love this video despite myself, and that being cute definitely does have its time and place:

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find much information about her when I first saw the video on Mongdori back in 2008, and I can’t find anything at all now. But I did find the music video of the song itself to compare (update: see here for a higher quality version):

And as it turns out, it was covered that same year by the Wondergirls (원더걸스), then by KARA (카라) the year after that:

Given that popularity; an English title that reminded me of double entendres like the “get into my core” from Girls’ Generation’s (소녀시대) Visual Dreams (비주얼드림); a doll in the music video that surely symbolized something; and the fact that Lee Jeong-hyeon was selected by Lady Gaga to open her Seoul concert in 2009, then — you guessed it — I just had to translate it!

(Lee Jeong-hyeon opening for Lady Gaga, 2009. Source)

뒤돌아 날 본다…넌 내가 셋을 셀동안

홧김에 끝내잔 얘길 넌 던진 것 뿐야

이대로 날 두고 갈 생각 전혀 없어 넌

거봐 너! 지금 너! 또 오잖아

Look back and you see me…while I count to three

You said that you only broke up with me because you were angry

You don’t want to leave me like this

See, look at you now. You’re coming back.

불안해 왜 불안해 내 말을 왜 못믿어

그렇게 겪어봐도 나를 몰라 왜 몰라줘

니몸에 날 묶을까? 내 옷에 써 붙힐까?

난 바로 니 여자라고…

Nervous? Why are you nervous? Why can’t you believe what I say?

Don’t you know me by now, after going through life so much together?

Shall I tie myself to you? Shall I write your name on my clothes?

I’m the woman for you

처음엔 좋댔잖아

섹시한 눈웃음도 감았다 살짝 뜬 우아한 내 윙크도

너 만을 위한거야

딴데선 난 안그래 왜 맘 좁게 날 의심해

At first, you said you liked my sexy eyes and my elegant, subtle wink

It was all for you

I don’t do that to other guys

Why are you so shallow and suspicious?


톡 쏘는 콜라처럼 난 니 마음 속에 들어갈꺼야

지금은 화난척해도

또 풀릴걸 내가 안기면

Like a cola fizzing, I’ll rise to be in your heart

Now, you’re only pretending to be angry really

I know that will go away if I hold you

모든걸 가질래 아무도 안줄래

나 니 마음을 다 사로잡을래

나 오늘은 순결한 백합처럼

나 때로는 붉은 장미처럼

모든걸 다줄래 너에게 다줄래

나의 관심은 언제나 너뿐야

언제나 나만 사랑해줘 날 안아줘 너는 내꺼야

I’m going to have it all, I’m not going to give anything [of you] to anyone

I’m going to grab all your heart again

Today, like a pure lily, and sometimes like a red rose

I’m going to give everything to you

It’s always been just you

Please love and hold me always, you are mine


우리가 그동안 함께한 날이 얼만데

난 알아 널 알아 널 알아

너무나 잘 알고있지

하나에 하나반 둘에 또 둘에 반에 셋!

거봐 너! 지금 너!

또 오잖아…

A long time has passed since we were together

I know you, I know you, I know you

I know you so well

One, one and a half, two, two and a half, three!

See, look at you now, you’re coming back to me again

오늘은 뭐했는지 누구를 만났는지

핸드폰 왜 껐는지 물어볼래

간섭할래 사랑은 구속인걸 난 너무 잘 알지만

때로는…난 숨이 막혀…

I’m going to ask you what you did today, who you met, why your phone was off

I am going to interfere like that, because I know well that love is a prison

Sometimes it means I can’t breathe

할수만 있다면 넌 날 작게 만들어서

주머니 속에 날 넣고 다니겠다고

그게 소원이라고 그렇게 말하는 널

나 어떻게 미워하니

You said that if you could, you would make me smaller

So that you can put me in your pocket

That was your wish

How can I not love you when you’re like that?


아무리 차가운 척해도 소용없어

넌 가득찬 내 작은 손을 넌 못벗어나

이대로 널 두고 갈생각 전혀없어 난

하나 또 둘에 반 셋…거봐 너 또 오잖아…

날줄래, 날줄래, 날줄래, 날줄래

There is no reason for you to pretend to be cold

You’re stuck with me

I won’t break up with you like this

One, one and a half, two, two and a half, three!

Look at you, you’re coming back again

I want to give myself to you (x4)

What do you think? Naturally, the feminist in me rebels against a woman loving that her boyfriend literally wants her to be his doll, but on the other hand the lyrics indicate that she’s by no means the submissive partner in the relationship. Even if she does uses a lot of aegyo to achieve that, which is the impression I get from Lee Jeong-hyeon seemingly going through her entire repertoire in the music video!

Meanwhile, apologies for the quick translation (I’m sure there’s many mistakes), and I’m more than happy to be corrected and/or explain any of it. But I do think I have the gist of it!

(See here for Lee Jeong-hyeon’s website [there’s an English section], and here for her Twitter feed)

Korean Gender Reader


For anyone interested, auditions for the 3rd annual Busan performance of the Vagina Monologues will be held on the weekend of January the 7th and 8th at the HQ bar in Kyungsung (the performance itself will be at the end of April). See Busan Haps for the details.

1) Single Korean Female, 30. Not Seeking Marriage.

Over at Seoulist, Stephanie Kim has written a great article on the pressures Korean women her age come under to get married. An excerpt:

Much like writer Kate Bolic, I also left a long-term relationship at the age of 28. It is never an easy explanation as to why a relationship doesn’t work out, but more disconcerting than my ambiguous story are the perplexed looks on the faces of my more conservative friends, especially those who believe that certain things must happen at certain times in one’s life….

…My Korean friends tell me that there is a very bad stereotype for a man who dates and then leaves a woman in the twilight of her twenties, letting her waste away into what my Chinese friends call a Leftover Woman. This was hardly my case. My ex-boyfriend was, and still is, a wonderful man. Smart. Caring. Supportive. The easiest answer I can give as to why the relationship fell apart is that things did not “feel right,” and that I was not ready for the next level of commitment, the marriage-minded track. It’s a scary feeling we all experience: everyday you feel one step closer to fulfilling a perfectly planned life, and it’s damn comfortable, but deep in your gut something tells you that that’s not what you truly want. I simply had the courage to act on that feeling. Though I don’t regret my decision, the stereotypes I face every day remind me that I took a non-traditional path.

Read the rest there. Note though, that unfortunately her message is a little confused by her referring to herself as a “Gold Miss” (골드미스), which she mistakenly thinks refers to an unmarried woman in her thirties or above. As regular Grand Narrative commenter Gomushin Girl points out however, actually it refers to women also highly successful in theirs career and/or financially well-off (the Joongang Daily says an income of 40 million won or above is required), which you can read about in depth in this discussion of the Japanese origins of the term at Ampontan: Japan from the inside out.

(Sources: left, right)

Not that I endorse the use of the term in any way: as even the Joongang Daily indirectly concedes in that above link, Gold Misses have little in common besides their salary and marital status, and one wonders at all the media attention on them a few years ago considering there were only 27,000 of them in 2006 (2 years before the article was published).

The explanation is that a Gold Miss is simply an invented role model for 30-something unmarried women to aspire to, all the better to sell them products that (supposedly) help them achieve that goal; or in other words, it’s normative rather than descriptive. This financial motivation becomes obvious when you realize that Japan-based Ampontan overlooks that the term is actually suspiciously similar to the “Missy” (미씨) term first used in 1994, about which So He-lee explains in her chapter “Female Sexuality in Popular Culture” in Under Construction: The Gendering of Modernity, Class, and Consumption in the Republic of Korea (ed. by Laurel Kendall, 2002; my emphasis):

As soon as it came out [in a Seoul department store advertisement], it was adopted widely to indicate a particular kind of housewife, a married woman who still looks like a single woman. Even the copywriter was surprised at the speed with which this term took on social meaning and evoked specific images of women and femininity. “Missy” rapidly permeated the Korean language once the advertising industry recognized the consumerist implications of this target age groups’ flamboyant desires.

The essential condition of being a Missy is a preoccupation with being looked at….Another fundamental condition of membership in the Missy club is her professional job.

You could argue that that this was simply luck by the copywriter rather than being part of a grand conspiracy between advertisers and the media, but then both are constantly inventing new terms in order to find one that’s likewise happily adopted by the public, as the never-ending creation of new “bodylines” makes clear. Tellingly, the terms also tend to be quite broad and vague, conveniently leaving others free to further define them as they see fit: say, when they want to blame all Korea’s modern social ills on working women for instance, in an appalling Korea Herald report on “Alpha Girls” that I eviscerate here. So I think So He-lee is a little misguided in assuming that Missys’ “flamboyant desires” came before rather than after that 1994 ad.

2) Questions on Korean LGBT Literature

As explained by Charles at Korean Modern Literature in Translation:

Chasing down a question from long-time commenter Charles (not me^^) and some interesting information about Yi Kwang-su, I came across some interesting work by Gabriel Sylvian at The Three Wise Monkeys, .

I emailed him some questions and the answers were interesting (and lengthy!) enough that I decided to run them individually, with some comments they evoke from me.

Gabriel, a grad student in Korean Literature at Seoul National University, founded The Korea Gay Literature Project  in 2004, and you can read more about him here. In any case, my first question was for background:

Read those questions and answers there, continued in Parts 2 and 3 here and here.

In other Korean LGBT-related news, a gay Korean man recently received refugee status in Canada because of the abuse and discrimination he would be expected to receive during his mandatory 2-year military service (see here also for more on sexual abuse in the military in general); anti-gay art caused a stir at a recent Seoul National University exhibition; and – sorry for not noticing earlier – the Korean gay movie 알이씨REC below came out last month, which you can find many links about here.


3) Japan’s ‘Mancession

As Tokyo-based New York Times reporter Hiroko Tabuchi put it:

Very interesting in its own right of course, that Bloomberg article referred to is also particularly useful in contrasting the Korean government and businesses’ decision to fire women in droves in response to the financial crisis, as in the US and – now Japan – it was actually men that suffered more. Indeed, in the former working women came to outnumber working men for the first time in its history (see story #5 below also).

4) Another Reason to Hate Naesoong and Aegyo

Via Tumblr Kitty Kitty Korea (but actually written by Party in the R.O.K.):

I can’t count all the times I’ve said “I’m going home” and attempted to leave wherever I was, and the Korean guy would be like “Oh, no you don’t!” and grab my wrists or shoulders or take my phone or hold me against a wall so I was physically unable to get out. No, man, I’m not just saying I want to go to be cute; I want to go. It’s not until I start thrashing around and yelling at them that they let go, and then they just act really confused. (I’m guessing that it’s a thing for Korean girls to pretend they want to leave a man so they can watch him beg for them to stay. Korean couples go on all sorts of weird power trips I just don’t get coming from the relatively sane world of American dating.)

Read there for her discussion of what lay behind that confusion. Also, I don’t mean to cause and/or perpetuate negative stereotypes about Korean men, and should be(!) the very last person to ask for dating advice, so please let me know how that does or doesn’t match your own dating experiences.

Update – By a wonderful coincidence, 5 minutes after I published this post this one appeared at Seoulbeats, about how seemingly every Korean drama features the male lead grabbing the female lead by the wrist and literally dragging her away with him like she was his property and/or child, despite her screams and protests. Sound familiar?


5) What do Women’s Groups Think of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MOGEF)?

Not much, according to the Hankyoreh, citing:

…its passive approach in the cases of the comfort women who had been coerced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese military during World War II and a sexual harassment victim who was dismissed from a Hyundai Motor subcontractor. In the latter case, the occurrence of sexual harassment was acknowledged in January by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, and the victim held a nearly 200-day sit-in protest in front of the MOGEF building when she was not reinstated. The ministry made almost no efforts to offer support, merely reiterating that it was “not within our legal authority to help victims.”

And also that:

In addition to its failure to do its job, the ministry has also added fuel to existing conflicts in the most bewildering of places. A case in point was its embarrassment after indiscriminately handing out “19 and older” ratings to songs with references to alcohol in their lyrics. Meanwhile, a late-night Internet shutdown system for those aged 16 and under has stirred up a controversy over violations of freedom.

Hey, I’m no fan of the Lee Myung-bak administration, and indeed I think its mixed performance in other areas of governance pale in comparison to its appalling record on women’s rights, which will be one of its most enduring legacies. Having said that, it’s a real struggle to find a Hankyoreh article that doesn’t criticize the present government in some form or another, whereas MOGEF does have a point about its relative powerlessness (it has only 0.12% of the total government budget for instance), the editor’s assertion that “if its authority is limited, then it can only survive by constantly raising issues and making its voice heard” proving my own point that this is the very impetus behind its constant censorship of K-pop (but not that I’m for that either!). Also, when Lee Myung-bak himself encouraged the firing of women in 2008 (see #3 above), then it deserves at least some praise for its recent efforts at job creation (source, right):

On December 23, MOGEF presented its plans to provide individually tailored job assistance programs for 130,000 people in 2012 before the Korean Youth Counseling Institute with President Lee Myung-bak in attendance.

The plan stipulates expanding the number of job training centers for women to 111 by next year and developing more in-depth programs for those with less access to employment opportunities, such as migrant women and women with disabilities. Furthermore, the Women Friendly City program, which currently counts 30 cities among its members and has received growing interest from regional administrations, will expand to 40 cities. MOGEF will also perform assessments, differentiating for gender, to measure the effects of such programs.

Read the rest at It does have to be acknowledged though, that still much much more is needed to boost female employment in Korea, as today’s final link – this comprehensive report from the Korea Herald – makes clear.

Korean Sexuality: Still Awaiting a Revolution?

(The Beast and the Beauty, 2005. Source)

On a recent episode of Thinking Allowed, a BBC4 radio show and podcast, host Laurie Taylor talked to Kate Fisher and Simon Szreter about their new book Sex Before the Sexual Revolution, an “illuminating exploration of intimate life in England between 1918 and 1963, which involved them speaking frankly and in depth to almost a hundred people about their sex lives in the period”. Fascinating in its own right, my ears immediately pricked up upon hearing the following at 16:10 (source, below right):

Laurie Taylor:

Let’s turn to some things you found out as a result of your, I mean, very sensitively conducted conversations…I mean, Kate, one of the things is about this, this…the notion is that people were utterly ignorant about sex before marriage. Does the research bear this out?

Kate Fisher:

Yes and no. This is a world in which sexual info is increasingly available, but it’s still one in which parents are reluctant to talk to their children, where schools don’t…er…give away information until after 1944, and even still, that’s fairly limited. So people are having to piece things together, listen to jokes, overhear other people…

But what’s particularly striking, is the ways in which women in particular, even when they did come across information, they were careful to not find out too much. They wanted to maintain a sense of ignorance in order to…

Laurie Taylor:

Yes, particularly working-class women though, yes…this idea that they should be innocent…

Kate Fisher:

They should be innocent and indeed they saw innocence as part of an attractive naivety…Their attractiveness was bound up with appearing naive, and innocent, and sort of coy.

Which as you’ve probably already guessed, has striking parallels with the attitudes of Korean women today.

Not that I want to overstate those of course. But I do think it’s no coincidence, and it’s certainly got my intellectual juices flowing. In particular, over whether UK society at the time had its own equivalent to aegyo (애교), and, regardless, how much such notions of female sexuality underscore it (albeit very much in combination with financial dependence on male breadwinners).

Food for thought anyway!^^ Meanwhile, for a glowing review of the book itself, see The Guardian here (I’m sold!), and to listen to the full interview, scroll to 11:35 here, or alternatively you can download the whole podcast here (it’s the February 16 episode).

Update – Naturally, the point that most got my attention in the interview of the authors was also mentioned in the book review:

The book’s three sections – “What was sex?”, “What was love?” and “Exploring sex and love in marriage” – take us through the whole cycle of the interviewees’ awareness of sex, from the rudimentary and often non-existent provision of sex education, through courtship, petting, birth control, marriage and parenthood. The social context is clearly delineated, but even the woeful ignorance of the young about sex – “the profound and beautiful ignorance of sex”, as one respondent calls it – is examined with great subtlety. “For women of all classes, the preservation of innocence and modesty was a complex cultural accomplishment in which many around them had to play their protective role and with which they had to comply. It was an enduring positive element of their self-identity, instilled into them by their parents, especially their mothers.”

“I’m a Korean Girl”

Despite its title, this is simply a classic rendition of the way young women typically behave in Korean dramas.

The flip-side of the aegyo (애교) phenomenon, that behavior is precisely why I don’t watch them too, and have a real concern about the effects on my 2 daughters as they grow up seeing it every time they turn on the TV.

But don’t get me wrong: the video’s hilarious, and thanks very much to @Mentalpoo for passing it on!^^