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.)

20130405_inter_01

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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

Interview with Jo Jung-seok (Singles)

Any fans of The King 2 Hearts’ heart-melting, swooniest of swoony, squeal-worthy Eun Shi-kyung out there?  I’ve been keeping an eye on actor Jo Jung-seok since I first saw him What’s Up, where he plays a nerdy kid with a great voice but terrible stage fright; all I can say at this point is GIMME MOAR.

Jo’s actually a well-known name in musical theater, but this year he found his way into the the realm of TV and film and I can only hope he has plans to stay.  I came across his interview in Singles magazine last month and wanted to have another go at translating longer articles, so here goes.  (Disclaimer:  All copyright belongs to the original writer.  I’m not profiting by this translation and I can’t guarantee its accuracy.)

Look! At! That! Face!

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東方神起 – 忘れないで 한국어 번역

TVXQ’s 忘れないで (“Don’t Forget”) is one of my favorite songs ever by the first K-pop group I ever liked (*sob*) and now… I’ve tried to translate it into Korean!!  My Japanese is deplorable so looking up every single grammar point and vocabulary word I didn’t know was time consuming, but in the end I managed to get a sense of what the song was about.  Please be warned, this translation was only for practice.  I still have a long way to go before my Japanese (and Korean, too, for that matter) is good enough to provide a decent translation.  After I did my translation, I compared it to one I found online and I was surprised to see that a lot of the lines matched!  That sure raised my confidence in understanding Japanese and writing Korean.  Video below and lyrics after the break.^^

video credit:  

 

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Translation Challenges

While tumblr is having another meltdown, I thought I should write another semi-intelligent post over here on wordpress, instead of spazzing about CNBLUE, BIGBANG, and SHINee.

I’m not an expert on translation nor am I really at the level where I can translate something with confidence.  But I do think it’s a good way to expose yourself to the language you’re learning, at least at the level of vocabulary and grammar.  In that aspect, I feel as if I have progressed somewhat in Korean, though not as fast as I would have liked.  It’s been about 1.5 years since I started teaching myself Korean and now I can usually understand about 85% of almost any Korean pop song on the first listen, 95% if I look at the lyrics.  (Falsettos and hardcore raps still trip me up though).

I used to do a lot of K-pop “translations” (basically looking up every word/grammar pattern I didn’t know and re-writing the song in English) but now I don’t feel the need to do it as much anymore since I basically understand the song.  But also because… well, sometimes it’s just hard translating Korean to English.  Why?  There are several reasons.

  1. relative clauses:  Korean uses a LOT of relative (noun-modifying) clauses and sometimes they can get so long that it just sounds awkward in English.  For example, I think Koreans are more likely to say “I am a person who never lies” rather than “I never lie.”  The nuance is slightly different but I think English uses fewer relative clauses, especially in casual conversation.  Korean also has a tendency to modify personal pronouns (I, he, she, etc.) which English doesn’t do so much.  For example, there’s a line from 하루하루 which goes “네가 없인 단 하루도 못 살것만 같았던 나” which literally translates to “I [the one] who thought I couldn’t live even a day without you – which just sounds WEIRD.  Most translations of this song get rid of the relative clause and just say “I thought I couldn’t live even a day without you.”  Another examples is the commonly used “널 사랑하는 나”  which translates to “I [the one] who loves you” but is often also translated as “the me who loves you” which is just ACCCKKK.
  2. untranslatable words/concepts:  I’m talking about songs that use distinctly Korean words like 존댓말, 반말, and relationship words like 누나/오빠.  Wikipedia actually translated SHINee’s “누난 너무 예뻐 (Replay)” as “Older girl, you’re so pretty.”  Awful. 
  3. synonymous words/phrases:  A lot of songs tend to use different words or phrases that mean essentially the same thing but carry different nuances.  Obviously, this is not unique to Korean but that nuance is often hard to translate into English without sounding awkward.  For example, 가슴 and 마음 is often used interchangeably in Korean and both can pretty much mean “heart” in English, depending on the context.  But if one song uses 가슴 sometimes and  마음 other times, it’s heard to denote that difference in English (you can’t really use “chest/breast” for 가슴 – it sounds unromantic.  So I end up using “heart” both times.  Is this an important distinction?  Maybe, maybe not.  Depends on the song.)  Sometimes there are A LOT of synonyms for one word and it’s really hard to get the nuance correct when you’re still learning the language.  (For example, how do you distinguish when to use “shining,” “glittering,” “glowing,” and “radiant”?)  More often than not, the song ends up sounding repetitive in English because you use the same word over and over again.
  4. missing pronouns:  This is usually something you can figure out if you pay attention to particles and the context but sometimes it’s not so easy!
  5. idioms, expressions, slang:  Kind of a given.  If a string of words sound a little odd next to each other, it’s usually an expression or idiom.  I usually just type the entire thing into the Naver or Daum dictionary and try to figure out the meaning from the examples that show up.
  6. words that sound awkward in English:  There are some words that do, technically, have definitions in English but sound just plain weird when they’re translated literally.  Because English doesn’t use certain words in certain contexts “naturally.”  I cringe whenever I see words like 욕하다, 설레다, 괜하다, and 서툰.   “욕하다” especially gets on my nerves because so many netizens translate this as “to curse” which sounds odd to me.  No one really says “Don’t curse/slander/speak badly about me” in English.
  7. ideophonic words:  I LOVE THESE WORDS.  (I want to do a separate post about these words… maybe in the future.)  So these kinds of words describe or evoke a sensation.  Korean has A LOT  of ideophonic words while English doesn’t have as many (the ones that do exist aren’t really used in daily conversation) so it can make translation a little difficult.  I usually end up substituting a nonideophonic words for an ideophonic one.  Examples include:  반짝반짝 (“glittering”), 두근두근 (“heart pounding”/nervousness), 짤랑짤랑 (“jingling”), 알랑알랑 (“with flattery”), 둥글둥글 (“roundly”/harmoniously), 꿀꿀 (“bubbling, gurgling”)
What about you guys?  What are some challenges you’ve faced while translating Korean (or any other language) to English?

Interview with Jung Il Woo (Marie Claire)

Since I’m kind of obsessed with 49 Days‘ sassy Scheduler, I wanted to try my hand at translating an article about Jung Il Woo that I found in the April 2011 issue of Marie Claire Korea.  Well, clearly I bit off more than I could chew.  This was my first time attempting to read (and translate) a rather lengthy magazine article and I think I got the gist of it but there were A LOT of words I did not know.  I would say I had to look up about 10-15% of the words (around 170 words out of a total of 1200).  I would say I’m about 65-70% percent confident in my translation.  There were many things I was unsure of and probably could have phrased better… but this is only for my own personal practice.

Again, I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this translation.

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Learning Korean Through Translation

I’m a huge proponent of learning a language through translation.  In fact, most of the vocabulary and grammar structures I know now are thanks to my attempts to learn Korean by “translating” K-pop songs.  Not only did I learn new things, I also figured out what the song meant!  But, please note, these are all still amateur translations.  A successful translation captures both the meaning and style of a work and if you use translation as a means to learn a language, you can only hope to master one aspect at the beginner level (meaning).  Once you’ve mastered the language (if there is such a thing), you can learn to capture the style of the original work as well.

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