Category Archives: K-Music

Lyrics Translations: Geeks – Love, Life 그 한가운데서

긱스 geeks

These lyrics are more haunting and elegant than I expected. The speaker describes how he’s left in this suspended, dream-like state after his girlfriend leaves him. He connects to his dreams if she appears, and disconnects if she doesn’t. He closes his eyes in the dark and lets memories light his room. He visits places they frequented and projects holographic images of her. As a result of constantly being in a dreamlike state, he becomes an insomniac. After reflecting on why his girlfriend left him, the speaker has an epiphany that the center of the universe is love, life and he regrets being numb to existence. Weary of living in a dream world, he wants to break free from his haunting memories of her, but the cyclic structure of the lyrics’ narrative suggests that it’s as futile as his longing for her to return.

The elegance of these lyrics lies in its wordplay. The lyrics’ wordplay reinforces its motif of weariness. One example of wordplay would be the frequent use of the verb ending and end rhyme, “gon hae” (곤 해), which is a homophone for the Korean word for weary, “gonhae” (곤해).  For example, when the speaker says, “I’m smoking,” it sounds like he’s saying, “I’m tired,” since in Korean “smoking” is a homophone for “tired” (담배를 피우곤 해). To backpedal a little, this is a pop song, and in general its lyrics are derivative and formulaic. But they are more interesting than I thought they would be.

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Lyrics Translations: Kim Yong Jin – Wound

cruel city ost

I’m so, so sorry I thought you looked like Nemo. You are brain asl;jlfajdk meltingly hot

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Lyrics Translations: The Breeze – What Should I Say


Translating Korean lyrics can be like fishing in the dark. Without a pole. On top of an Antarctic subglacial lake with several thousand feet of ice between you and the fish. Okay, I jest. It’s highly unlikely a species of fish could survive in such an oxygen supersaturated, oligotrophic environment. So there are no fish. So I was grossly exaggerating.

To get back on topic, my point is that I find translating Korean lyrics difficult, one of the reasons being their propensity for indirectness. Korean in general can be indirect because Korean sentences don’t require subjects. As such, subjects are often omitted if they can be implied by context, which occurs frequently in poetic writing such as lyrics. The problem arises when your proficiency in Korean is middling at best and you fail to pick up on the clues (i.e., yours truly).

For example, in The Breeze’s How Do I Put This I thought the subject of the speaker’s narration in this line was himself, “혼자일거라는 생각은 사실 못했었어” or “To be honest, [I] didn’t think [I’d] be alone.” Continue reading

The Offbeat, 4D Charms of Jung Joon Young


I finally got around to downloading the songs I liked from the repertoire covered on Superstar K4. Several of these songs were covered by Jung Joon Young, running the gamut from pop rock to classic rock: The Breeze’s How Do I Put This, Butterfly Effect’s First Love, YB’s Peppermint Candy, Deulgukhwa’s (Wild Chrysanthemum) This Space is My World, and Spring Summer Fall Winter’s Outsider. He also happened to be one of my favorite contestants, after the happy virus Yoo Seung Woo♥, and along with Kim Jung Hwan and Lee Ji Hye. Jung Joon Young and all the other colorful characters in SSK4 were what made this season (the audition process at least) so shizzling daebak.

He’s not a great singer, and I can’t help wincing when his voice cracks or goes out of tune, but I loves him because he cracks me up. He’s a crazy, contradictory mix of things: a poser, a player, an ulzzang, a dol+i, a vagabond, a rocker. While he’s hilarious when he’s plying on the grease, I find him the most refreshing when he’s sans filter or simply being himself.

So, here are 10 Reasons Why Jung Joon Young Rocks (pun unintended).

1. Smarmy expressions

smarmy 1

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Music Plug: Leessang


Example Lyrics

“I chew pain like gum”

“Growing closer as a hole forms on an old sock”

“Lingering and dancing to the sad music.
A carousel smiles in a vacant circus lot.
So too do I smile like the dead
Believing you will come back.”

“During Mom’s pregnancy, she slept sitting down.
Because I kicked.
From my mother’s womb, I was a troublemaker”

“Because I love you
I turned off the TV.
Closed the curtains.
Your red lips.”

“In pursuit of happiness, I flew for a long time
So all the shrunken things can smile”

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