Interview with Lee Jin-wook and Jo Yoon-hee (Marie Claire)

I consider 나인: 아홉 번의 시간 여행 (Nine: Nine Time Travels) to be the Korean drama to end all Korean dramas for me.  In a good way.  It’s not my all-time favorite drama, but it hit me in a way that no K-drama since has been able to.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve managed to finish a single Korean drama since watching Nine – as if I’ve been cursed by the magical Himalayan incense myself!  About a year ago, there was news that Nine would be remade for an American audience which made me simultaneously roll my eyes and perk up my ears.  If it ever came into fruition, I love the story line and the questions it raises enough to consider watching it.  Cautiously.

Anyway, this is an old piece came that out in the April 2013 edition of Marie Claire Korea, right when Nine had started to air that I translated on a whim last night.  If you’re looking for something mind-bending, thrilling, heartbreaking, and suspenseful all at once, I highly recommend Nine – just sit tight through the first couple (rather slow) episodes!

(Disclaimer:  As with all my other translations, all copyright belongs to the original source.  I am not profiting by this translation and cannot guarantee its accuracy.  In fact, I’ve taken a few liberties with my translation this time by prioritizing meaning and written fluency over more literally representing the original text.)

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Continue reading “Interview with Lee Jin-wook and Jo Yoon-hee (Marie Claire)”

악동뮤지션 (AKMU) – 안녕

Let me tell you a story about myself.  When I was growing up, I moved a lot.  By the time I graduated high school, I had lived in five different states and changed schools just as many times.  When I got older, the moves got much harder.  At one point, I remember making the mental decision to just not make friends – what was the point if I was just going to move away after a couple years?

I moved to North Carolina in the middle of seventh grade and, day after day, I remember vividly eating lunch alone at one end of a lunch table in the corner of the cafeteria.  There was a group of girls who sat a little bit further down from me that I recognized from some of my classes.  I would glance at occasionally because they seemed friendly but I didn’t approach them or say anything for weeks.  And then one day, a girl from that group approached me and said, “Do you want to sit with us?”  And I did.  I’m still friends with her to this day and even though we don’t talk very often, that bit of kindness has stayed in my heart for the past twelve years and will continue to do so for many, many more.  The friends I made that day I will always cherish.

The lyrics of this song transported me back to those days of desperate loneliness right after I had moved to a new place.  Never again do I want to experience the feeling of seeing groups of friends all around me but not knowing how to talk to them, literally feeling the words get stuck in my throat as I approached them.  I think I’ve cried several times listening to this song but afterwards I always feel thankful for the people who have reached out to me over the years and received me with warmth.  I hope I’ve helped someone in the same way.

Lyrics translated by me:

안녕 나는 너를 아는데
너는 나를 모르지
그 동안 말도 하지 않고 매일
저 만치서 어울리고 있는
너희를 바라보고

다가갈까 말까
말 걸어볼까 말까
이런 인사가 나을까
이런 날 반겨줄까
오늘도
생각만 하다가 기회는 떠나가

혼자라는 게
얼마나 외로운지 아니
날 피하는 게
보일 때 얼마나 서운한지 아니

날 멀리 두지 말아줘
날 여기에 이대로 두어줘
그저 너희가 있는 자리에
함께 있는 것만으로
내겐 안심이 될 테니

날 혼자 두지 말아줘
날 너희와 함께 있게 해줘
그저 너희가 있는 자리에
함께 있는 것만으로
내겐 안심이 될 테니

Don’t hate me
나나나나나 나나나나나나 나나나
Don’t hate me
나나나나나 나나나나나나 나나나

늘 내게만 똑같은 태도
내게만 드리워진 shadow
잃어버린 궤도에 홀로
파도 속에 남겨진 배도
less than me
항상 나만 혼자 남으니까
기대도 안해 내 이름 불러줄까
like 먼지 덮인 하모니카
목 잠겨 쉰소리만 나온다

아무도 몰래 어두운 곳에서
속앓이를 하고
꼴에 자존심은 있어서
혼자라 고백은 못하고
아침마다 달갑지 않은 쓴 공기와
햇살을 가려버린 마음 안개가
Can you understand it?
Not at all

안녕 나는 너를 아는데
너는 나를 모르지
(나나나나나 나나나나)

안녕 나는 너를 아는데
너는 나를 모르지

날 멀리 두지 말아줘
날 여기에 이대로 두어줘
그저 너희가 있는 자리에
함께 있는 것만으로
내겐 안심이 될 테니

날 혼자 두진 말아줘
날 너희와 함께 있게 해줘
그저 너희가 있는 자리에
함께 있는 것만으로
내겐 안심이 될 테니

Don’t hate me
나나나나나 나나나나나나 나나나
Don’t hate me
나나나나나 나나나나나나 나나나
Don’t hate me

Hello, I know you but
You don’t know me, do you
All this time, we’ve never even spoken
Everyday, I just watch all of you,
Mingling with each other, in the distance

‘Should I go over there or not?’
‘Should I trying speaking to them or not?’
‘Would it be better if I greeted them like this?’
‘Would they welcome me if I were like this?’
Once again
As I think about it, the chance slips by

Do you know how lonely it is
To be all by yourself?
Do you know how much it hurts
To see you avoid me?

Don’t leave me so far behind
Please just leave me here like this
Because just being in the same place as you,
Just being here with all of you
Puts me at ease

Don’t leave me by myself
Please let me be here with you
Because just being in the same place as you,
Just being here with all of you
Puts me at ease

Don’t hate me
Nanananana nananananana nanana
Don’t hate me
Nanananana nananananana nanana

Always the exact same attitude towards me
A shadow that falls upon me alone
Like a boat that’s strayed off its course
And is left by itself in the sea
Less than me
You always leave me by myself so
I don’t expect that you’ll call ever my name
Like a harmonica covered in dust
My voice dies away, only the sound of my breathing can be heard

In a dark place, without anyone knowing
my heart aches
Because I’m too proud
I can’t confess that I’m lonely
Every morning the unwelcome, bitter atmosphere
And the fog in my heart that blocks out the sun
Can you understand it?
Not at all

Hello, I know you but
You don’t know me, do you
(Nanananana nananana)

Hello, I know you but
You don’t know me, do you

Don’t leave me so far behind
Please just leave me here like this
Because just being in the same place as you,
Just being here with all of you
Puts me at ease

Don’t leave me by myself
Please let me be here with you
Because just being in the same place as you,
Just being here with all of you
Puts me at ease

Don’t hate me
Nanananana nananananana nanana
Don’t hate me
Nanananana nananananana nanana
Don’t hate me

소자 vs. 소신

The good thing about having so many Korean novels is when I get bored/frustrated with one, I can always move onto another.  I’m pretty sure that at the moment I have a bookmark in every single one I own – but I’m close!  So close!  This close to finishing 우리들의 행복한 시간…. and I started reading 해를 품은 달 again (Note: The novels are fun but I do not recommend the drama.)  It’s sad but also amusing that I was reading these two books at the same time way back in 2012 as well.  Amazing how time zips by.

I’m not going to be critical about the fact that I haven’t improved much in Korean over the past couple years because I know I was struggling with bigger issues than just trying to get over a learning slump.  Only in the past few months have I made a real return to reading and listening to Korean on a daily basis again.  And I’m so, so happy to say that it brings me just as much joy now as it did when I first started!

So I reunited with 해품달 again a few days ago and have already read 50 pages or so from where I last left off.  No more skipping paragraphs/chapters and only reading for the Hwon-Yeonwoo Tragic Romance (TM)  Storyline!  Actually, a lot of characters have tragic moments in the novel and somehow – maybe it’s something about actually reading it – I can feel the tugging of my stiff, underused heartstrings more intensely than I did when I watched the drama.

This particular passage comes from Yangmyung’s point-of-view regarding his father, the King.  For those not familiar with the drama or novel, Yangmyung is the older son of the King and one of his concubines but has always been overlooked by his father.  All he ever wanted was to hear a word of praise from the King and, in hopes of achieving it, he throws himself into studying the philosophies and principals of being a good ruler.  But, knowing that Yangmyung will never ascend the throne so long as Hwon is alive, the King sees his academic achievements as “impudent” (건방지다).  Crushed, this is what Yangmyung decides:

이 일이 있고 나서부터 양명군은 ‘아바마마’와 소자라는 단어 대신 ‘상감마마’와 ‘소신’이란 단어만을 입에 담았다.

Something I’ve always found fascinating about the Korean language is its ability to, with almost no ambiguity, accurately define interpersonal relationships – which is why this one sentence alone is sufficient to tell the reader how swiftly and harshly Yangmyeong perceived the change in his relationship with the King.  The key words alluding to it were:

  • 아바마마 vs. 상감마마
  • 소자 vs. 소신

The first bullet is simple to understand – it’s just the difference between calling the King ‘my royal father,’ which is used by princes, to ‘Your Majesty the King,’ which is used by ordinary subjects.  It’s sort of easy to guess the meaning of 아바마마, given that it derives from 아버지 and 마마 (‘majesty’).  On the other hand, I had heard 소자 and 소신 many times while watching historical dramas and knew enough from context that they were both first-person personal pronouns or 1인칭 대명사 (i.e. “I”), but I couldn’t really tell what the difference was.

  • 소자 [小子]:  honorific way for a son to address himself to his parents
    • 小:  작을/젊다 소
    • 子:  아들 자
  • 소신 [小臣]:  honorific way for a subject/citizen to address himself to his liege
    • 小:  작을/짧다 소
    • 臣:  신하 신

The breakdown of the Hanja really makes the difference between the two pronouns clear:  소자 = “young son” and 소신 = “young citizen.”

You could liken it to the difference between 저 (polite) and 나 (casual) except the fall from addressing yourself as a prince to addressing yourself as a mere subject seems much more precipitous!  By changing the way Yangmyung addressed himself to the King, he made clear the change in their relationship – and the severing of familial ties – to everyone in the court. It’s such a simple change and yet it is heartbreaking….  Perhaps I feel the contrast more strongly because I’m not a native Korean speaker!  In any case, I’ll  continue to marvel at these linguistic gems that I pick up from the novels I’m reading.