Throwback to my K-pop listening days

Confession time. I tend to get defensive when people ask me if I’m learning Korean because of K-pop. That’s because 1) K-pop was never a motivation for me to learn the language; it was a side-effect, and the better I got at Korean, the less I started to like idol music anyway. And 2) the stereotype of a typical K-pop fan these days is less than flattering.

That said, yes, I too had a rich, happy K-pop phase. I used to be a huge DB5K fan and then Big Bang, and had my phases with SHINee, Infinite, B.A.P., and B2ST (which UM WHAT apparently a lot has happened with them since I last checked).

Anyway I found my interest in K-pop rekindled when a friend of mine told me about YGE’s official rhythm game BeatEVO YG. The app has been absolute shit since its recent Android update so I can’t in good conscience recommend it, but I got addicted anyway and am now super nostalgic for 2006-2010-era Big Bang. All of a sudden, I’m back to listening to 하루 하루, 거짓말, 마자막 인사, 나만 바라봐 on repeat.

EvoBEATYG_screenshot
The lyrics to this song are so horrible and yet….

I think now, listening to those songs, a lot of the nostalgia I have has to do with how much those songs influenced my learning Korean. I really don’t think I give K-pop enough credit for the role it played in my early Korean learning days, but it was a critical source from which I absorbed tons of new grammar and vocabulary.

A few days ago, I was digging through some old notes from that “exponential” phase of my Korean learning days and found a three-ring binder full of K-pop lyrics and language notes.

I used to print out the lyrics to a song I liked and then painstakingly look up every single noun, verb, particle, connector, and sentence ending I didn’t know using either Talk To Me In Korean, Clare You & Eunsu Cho’s Online Intermediate College Korean, and/or Korean Wiki Project. I’d break up the lyrics into stanzas and under each stanza, type out all of my language notes, and then write up a rough translation of the lyrics in English. And then I’d compare it existing translations out there.

And then, I’d memorize.

20180419_205544
My language notes from Big Bang’s ‘Haru Haru.’

 

It wasn’t a perfect or even efficient method, and there were definitely pitfalls I had to watch out for. I risked learning grammar incorrectly, or learning weird slang words/expressions and skewing my developing vocabulary to words related to love and heartbreak. English translations that existed online were mostly terrible, so using those to help me grasp word usage and nuance was probably a bad idea. The potential to learn something wrong and then struggle to unlearn it later on was very, very high.

And yet.

This way of learning Korean through K-pop somehow made Korean feel like a more tangible and comprehensible language to me than reading about it in a textbook. Over the years, through reading a wide range of material and, yes, suffering through textbooks, I’ve managed to correct some of those things I learned incorrectly while gaining a deeper understanding of others I had oversimplified. But, for sure, if I hadn’t started out teaching myself like this, I don’t think I’d be at the level I am now.

I might be reluctant about admitting it these days, but I look back on my K-pop fandom days with a lot of fondness, both for how much I enjoyed the music itself and for how much it built my foundation for Korean. Those were good times.


Okay, so, a funny, unexpected side effect of playing so much BeatEVO YG — I’m really into Sechskies now???? Yep. The real reason I don’t listen to K-pop any more is actually just because my taste in idol music is stuck in the 90s-00s. 😂

One Million Roses

My heart feels sliced in half today.

I have been removed from the idol scene for a few years now, but there was a time in college and graduate school when SHINee’s music meant a lot to me. I bonded with two of my closest friends over their music; no matter how far-removed we were as fans then, it truly feels like we’ve lost something precious today.

As someone with clinical depression, just a scant few months older than Jonghyun, and as someone who has felt a similar kind of hopelessness and despair, I am truly sick with grief at how society keeps failing individuals with mental illnesses.

Take this moment to reach out to your loved ones and check in on them. The ones who smile the fiercest on the outside are often the ones who are crumbling on the inside.

I leave you with a song that Jonghyun covered on Immortal Song 2 back in 2011. To this day, it is one of my favorite performances by him.

Originally a Latvian song and popularized by Russian singer Alla Pugacheva, the Korean version 백만송의 장미 was first sung by Shim Soo-bong in 1997. Korean lyrics and English translation by me below.

Continue reading “One Million Roses”

Clazziquai Project – #Curious

I’ve had Clazziquai’s new album Travellers on repeat since it came to Spotify (bless). I love the new single so much. The lyrics and instrumentals kind of remind me of Ra-on and Yeong’s early friendships/shenanigans – though that might just be because I’ve been thinking of Moonlight Drawn By Clouds too much these days! Heh. (Seriously though. If I made a Moonlight mixtape, this song would be on it.)

Lyrics translation below!

#궁금해

같이 먹을래
같이 걸을래
요즘 들어서 왠지
난 같이 하고 싶어
너의 사소한 일도
난 모두 궁금해
네가 없는 날은
너무 지루해

너와 함께라면
오늘도 특별한 하루
I keep sayin’
여기도 특별한 장소
Don’t you know that
나 또한 특별한 사람
I gotta tell you, do you mind?
Do you mind?
Everybody knows

다시 말해줘
다시 말해줘
요즘 들어서
왠지 니가 좀 달라 보여
너의 사소한 일도
난 모두 궁금해
네가 없는 날은
너무 지루해

너와 함께라면
오늘도 특별한 하루
I keep sayin’
여기도 특별한 장소
Don’t you know that
나 또한 특별한 사람
I gotta I tell you do you mind?
Do you mind?
Everybody knows

Give me love
Give me love
I can give my love
너와 함께 난 왠지
늘 같이 하고 싶어

오늘도 특별한 하루
I keep sayin’
여기도 특별한 장소
Don’t you know that
나 또한 특별한 사람
I gotta I tell you, do you mind?
Do you mind?
Everybody knows

Everybody knows
#Curious

I want to go out to eat with you
I want to walk around with you
For some reason, these days
I want to do these things with you
I’m curious about
every little thing about you
Days without you
are so dull

If I’m with you
This day can be a special day
I keep sayin’
This place can be a special place
Don’t you know that
I can be a special someone
I gotta tell you, do you mind?
Do you mind?
Everybody knows

Say it again
Say it again
For some reason, these days
You look a bit different
I’m curious about
every little thing about you
Days without you
are so dull

If I’m with you
This day can be a special day
I keep sayin’
This place can be a special place
Don’t you know that
I can be a special someone
I gotta tell you, do you mind?
Do you mind?
Everybody knows

Give me love
Give me love
I can give my love
When I’m with you, for some reason
I want be be with you forever

This day can be a special day
I keep sayin’
This place can be a special place
Don’t you know that
I can be a special someone
I gotta tell you, do you mind?
Do you mind?
Everybody knows

Everybody knows

Interview with Park Yoochun (Marie Claire 2015)

Given that I know zilch about what’s happening in Korean entertainment these days, it came as a mild surprise to learn that Park Yoochun (of K-drama & K-pop fame) is off to serve his mandatory two-year military service.  Very soon in fact.  Like, today.  Or yesterday.

I chanced upon this short interview while scanning Korean celeb magazines for quality reading content and – well, normally I’m rather indifferent to Yoochun but sentimentality got the better of me.  I’d just resumed reading 셩균관 유생들의 나날 for the umpteenth time, which got me thinking about Sungkyunkwan Scandal, (still one of my favorite dramas to date, by the way), which made me think about JYJ and DBSK and OT5 4ever, etc. etc.

I found this interview pretty funny actually because the interviewer/writer can’t start a single question without talking about how PYC is going to be gone for TWO YEARS – it’s like s/he is so desperate for Yoochun to talk about how crushed he’s going to be to give up the spotlight, but Chunnie’s having none of that.  Full translated interview under the cut!  And the usual:

(Disclaimer:  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.)

Yoochun

Continue reading “Interview with Park Yoochun (Marie Claire 2015)”

Epik High in San Francisco

Okay so this happened:  On May 28, Epik High commenced their 2015 North American Tour at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco.

AND I WAS THERE.

The stage at the Warfield Theater
The stage at the Warfield Theater

This was a big deal for me because it was my first ever concert.  I’m a homebody and the idea of standing in line, enduring screaming fans and general madness just to hear/see artists live never seemed appealing to me – especially since I can just listen to a CD or watch a YouTube video in the comfort of own home.  But I’m thrilled to give up my… uh… concert virginity to Epik High.  Honestly there’s no other group I’d want that honor to go to.  Hee.

I still can’t believe my two eyes saw them in the flesh.

San Francisco was the first stop on their tour so their energy was really fresh.  Tablo’s always been my musical bias (I still think he’s one of the best wordsmiths in this industry) but Mithra was FANTASTIC at rapping live.  The venue was small enough that the whole concert itself felt intimate.  So intimate, in fact, that their true dorkiness shone through.  During the intermission, the trio listed off their favorite things about North America and – I kid you not – Tablo said geocities and hotmail.  Woooowww.  (Tablo couldn’t hide his nerdiness – Mithra and Tukutz named some popular movies and Tablo’s like, “Uh… F. Scott Fitzgerald…”  I screamed extra loud for that.)

A fan requested poor Mithra to do aegyo…. let’s just say that is a memory I want to bleach out of my brain forever.

The concert ranged from songs from their relatively new stuff (“Born Hater,” “Don’t Hate Me,” “Happen Ending,” “Eyes, Nose, Lips”) to old fan favorites (“Umbrella,” “Love, Love, Love,” “Fan”).  Such nostalgia.  A tiny part of me wishes I had splurged on VIP tickets but we had pretty great seats overall.

I swear I have photos from the concert and will add them to this post at a later time (they’re on my phone – haven’t had time to transfer them to my computer).  Better late than never!  Photos below.

サカナクション 「ミユージック」

My Japanese conversation partner Haruna introduced me to Sakanaction a while back.  Usually it takes me a while to warm up to new music but after listening to the song above, it was pretty much love at first listen.  The last time I got this excited about a Japanese band was back when I first discovered flumpool.

Anyway, as with most Japanese bands, their name confused me (at the time Haruna was spelling it phonetically like ‘sakanakushon’).  Sakana – as in 魚, one of my favorite kanjis?!  Turns out I was kind of right.

The name Sakanaction is a portmanteau of “sakana” (, “fish”) and “action”. In the band’s own words, their name reflects a wish to act quickly and lightly, like fish in the water, without fearing changes in the music scene (source).

I’m not sure how true to their name they’ve stayed since I’ve only listened to one album, but their music does have kind of floaty, otherworldly feeling to it.  Like the sensation you get when you stare into one of those giant aquarium water tanks.  Yeah.

Their sound is very much a fusion of alternative, electronic, New Wavey type things, which I really like!

Lyrics below the cut.

Continue reading “サカナクション 「ミユージック」”

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