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

( Source )

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

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

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

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

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

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

너 땜에 자꾸만 내 가슴이 (hot hot hot hot)

너 땜에 자꾸만 내 몸이 (hot hot hot hot)

니가 날 볼 때마다, 니 생각 할 때마다

너 땜에 자꾸만 내 가슴이

no oh no oh no oh oh, I can’t breathe

no oh no oh no oh oh, I can’t breathe

no oh no oh no oh oh, I can’t breathe

no oh no oh no oh no oh no oh

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

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

Whenever you look at me

Whenever I think of you

Because of you my chest [is] often…

( Source: unknown )

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

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

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

( Source )

Boy you look so fine

어쩜 너무 멋져 안보는 척 해보지만 자꾸만 눈을 맞춰

난 이런 적이 없는데 너에게 빠졌어

니 생각 만하고 있어 날 구해줘 어서

Boy you look so fine

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

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

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

( Source )

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

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

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

In line 4, “구하다” means:

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

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

( Source )

Boy you look so fine

(짝사랑은 난 하기 싫은데) 말을 해볼까

(너도 날 좋아할 것 같은데) 용기를 내서

고백해볼까 (yeah)

싫다면 어쩌나 (yeah)

이렇게 기다리다 미치겠어

Boy you look so fine

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

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

and confess my love? (yeah)

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

I’m going crazy waiting like this

( Source )

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

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

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

( Source )

오늘은 난 꼭(꼭) 고백을 하고야 말 거라고

I’m gonna let you know

Baby I will let you know

생각하다가도 너만 나타나면

몸이 다시 굳어버리고 할말은 잊어버리고 oh

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

I’m gonna let you know

Baby I will let you know

…if you show up

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

( Source )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

( Source )

눈이 마주칠 때 마다 심장이 잠시 멈춰 (hot hot)

니가 돌아설 때 마다 슬픔이 나를 덮쳐 (흑흑)

내 마음속에 갇혀 있는 이 사랑을 주고 싶어 미쳐 받아줘 catcher

Here (here) my (my)

love boy I just can’t breathe

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

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

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

Here (here) my (my)

love boy I just can’t breathe

( Source )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

You don’t know me, you don’t know me

You don’t know me, you don’t know me

So shut up boy, so shut up boy

So shut up boy, so shut up, shut up

앞에선 한 마디도 못 하더니

뒤에선 내 얘길 안 좋게 해 어이가 없어

Hello, hello, hello

나같은 여잔 처음 으로 으로 으로

본 것 같은데 왜 나를 판단하니

내가 혹시 두려운거니

You don’t know me, you don’t know me

You don’t know me, you don’t know me

So shut up boy, so shut up boy

So shut up boy, so shut up, shut up

In front of me you can’t say a word

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

Hello, hello, hello

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

Am I a thing to be feared?

(Source, all screenshots: Red and Rosy)

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

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

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

Now for the chorus:

겉으론 bad girl 속으론 good girl

나를 잘 알지도 못 하면서

내 겉모습만 보면서

한심한 여자로 보는 너의 시선이 난 너무나 웃겨

춤 출 땐 bad girl 사랑은 good girl

춤추는 내 모습을 볼 때는 넋을 놓고 보고서는

끝나니 손가락질 하는 그 위선이 난 너무나 웃겨

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

While you don’t know me well

While only looking at my outward appearance

Thinking of me as a pathetic woman is so laughable

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

When you see me dance you lose your mind

Only then to scorn me when the dance is ended

I laugh at your hypocrisy

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

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

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

이런 옷 이런 머리모양으로 이런 춤을 추는 여자는

뻔해 ha 네가 더 뻔해, 오~

Hello, hello, hello

자신 없으면 저 뒤로 뒤로 뒤로

물러서면 되지 왜 자꾸 떠드니

속이 훤히 보이는 건 아니

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

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

Hello, hello, hello

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

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

I can see right through you

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

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

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

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

날 감당 할 수 있는 남잘 찾아요

진짜 남자를 찾아요

말로만 남자다운 척 할 남자 말고

날 불안 해 하지 않을 남잔 없나요

자신감이 넘쳐서 내가 나일 수 있게

자유롭게 두고 멀리서 바라보는

I’m looking for a man who can bear me

I’m looking for a real man

Not a man who only talks like a real man

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

(Source: The Japan Foundation)

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

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

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