8 Korean words/expressions BTS taught me

9:59 AM

Isn’t it wonderful when you learn new things while jumping around and/or body rolling around your room? When it comes to korean music, there’s no other artist that, to me, comes close to BTS (also known as 방탄소년단). And you can bet your ass that I am listening to their music about 80% of the time.

One great thing about that is repetition. Even if I’m not actually paying attention to what they are singing all the time, by listening to the same song over and over, some things will stick with me.

I think a lot of the people who read my posts (and especially those who follow me on tumblr) are also fans of BTS, so I’ll share with you a few of the sentences and vocabulary I ended up learning because of them.

1. BLOOD SWEAT TEARS & SOUL


피 땀 눈물
몸 마음 영혼

Song: Blood Sweat & Tears

I already knew how to say blood and tears, but this line still taught me two new words and is so rich in vocab anyway. It's more than worth sharing.

Blood (not to be confused with 비 which means ‘rain’)
Sweat
영혼 Soul
눈물 Tears (눈 means ‘eyes’ & 물 means ‘water’ so you can see why together they mean tears)
Body
마음 Heart (in this case, although it can also mean ‘mind’)

The line in english goes as follows:


Even my blood, sweat and tears
Even my body, heart and soul


2. A SAD MUSIC BOX


울리는 비극의 오르골
Song: Boy Meets Evil

This word actually caught my attention first because of a SHINee song that is titled ‘Orgel’. I thought it was an English word until I heard it again in BTS's Boy Meets Evil, and looked up the lyrics in hangul. A quick search later I found out it’s actually both a korean word and an english word.

In english it’s a type of organ. In korean it means music box.

The line, translated in english:

The music box of tragedy echoes


3. HOPE


While on the topic of J-Hope (well, sort of? Let me have this), another word BTS taught me was hope. Not because of a song, but because of the aforementioned member, whose smile and energy brings a hopeful smile to everyone’s faces.

The word in korean is 회망

4. Does that make sense?

This one is actually an expression. At first I didn’t realize that it was, until I noticed it being said exactly the same way by multiple koreans. So yes, this is how you say ‘does that make sense?’:

그게 말이 돼?
Song: Outro: Does that make sense?


5. FROM HEAD TO TOE


머리부터 발끝까지
Song: War of Hormone

Another expression I heard first in a BTS song. It’s such a common expression, it exists in korean, in english and in my native language as well. It took me a while to be able to pronounce it at a decent speed (I practiced it for a while) but I felt damn good when I mastered it!

Vocab in this expression:

머리 Head (it can also mean hair)
~부터...까지 Not actually vocab but it means ‘from [...] to[...]’
Foot
End, Close, Finish

In English, the whole expression translates to:


From head to toe

Or, alternatively

From top to bottom

Note:
I just learned that 발끝 together means ‘tiptoe’ (props to the naver dictionary).


6. BECAUSE OF (WHO)?


(누구 때문에?) 호르몬 때문에
(누구 때문에?)남자기 때문에
Song: War of Hormone

Still in the same song, here’s another thing the BTS teachers taught me. For a long time, I only knew that 때문에 meant ‘because of’, I had to idea about the rules that should be applied when using it (I was too much of a beginner to use it anyway).

While I was writing this post, however, I learned how it works with the help of Hannah (who is also learning korean). So, here’s how it works:

때문에 has a lot of meanings but in general it means ‘because of’ or ‘on account of’.

When you want to use it in a sentence you have to first note whether you’re using it after a noun or a verb.

After a noun you just add ~때문에 as in 호르몬 때문에

After a verb you add ~기 때문에

Now, this is why it got confusing to me. Because isn’t 남자(man) a noun too? For us to understand this, we have to look up the translation of those lines:

(Because of who?) Because of hormones
(Because of who?) Because I’m a guy

Here’s what I learned: in korean, the verb 이다 is sometimes dropped when used after a noun ending in a vowel. So, instead of the lyrics saying “because of men”, they actually mean “because I’m a man”.

What they’re actually saying is “남자이기 때문에” but have chosen to omit the verb 이다 (to be)

Confused?

You probably are. This is actually not the best example to give someone who is just learning this particle. But these BTS teachers like to give us a hard time…


7. GET AWAY FROM ME


내게서 떠나 떠나 떠나줘
Song: Lie

First of all, I’d like to share with you the fact that this song is one of my absolute favorite from their latest album. Second of all, what caught my attention in this line was how Jimin sings it in such a remarkable way. Third… let’s get down to business.

떠나줘 comes from the combination of the verb 떠나다 (meaning ‘to leave’, ‘depart’, ‘get away’) + the auxiliary verb 주다. As a standalone verb, 주다 means ‘to give’. But, as an auxiliary verb, it acquires the meaning of ‘doing something for someone/as a favor to someone’.

Thus, 떠나줘, in a literal sense, means ‘leave in favor of [someone]’. In this case, since the subject is ‘I’, this is how the line is translated:

Get away away away from me


8. FORGIVE ME FATHER, FOR I HAVE SINNED


용서해줄게
Song: Fire

If you’re a fan, you probably recognize this one instantly. That thing Suga says at the end of Fire, looking intensely at (us) the camera.

The verb used here is:

용서하다 which means ‘to forgive a person’s sin / inexcusable mistake’

And, as we’ve seen before, it is coupled with the auxiliary verb 주다 (and conjugated in the future, which is where the 게 comes from).

The line is translates as:

I’ll forgive you

In this translation it doesn’t sound as strong a word as naver dictionary makes it out to be. Since it doesn’t describe it as simple forgiving someone, but forgiving someone for their sins and inexcusable mistakes.

Damn, Yoongi!



There are a bunch of other little words that they have taught me, but these are the ones I thought to be more pertinent to share with you.


Have you learned anything with BTS, or any other korean artist/song?


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6 comments

  1. My ultimate favourite words that I learned from BTS songs are 하루만 and 목소리. I would most likely tattoo these on me, they mean so much and bring strong feelings of nostalgia and warmth~

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    1. 목소리 is actually one of my favorite words in korean. It sounds really beautiful. I learned it with Rap Monster, actually!

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  2. omg i have been seeing so much of korean music lately but haven't listened to any of it yet. But boy their lyrics are super cool *inserts heart eyed emojis*

    Noor | Noor's Place

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    1. Yeah, it seems to be getting bigger and bigger these days! If you ever do decide to listen, I recommend you watch BTS's "Blood Sweat and Tears" music video. It will be worth it just for the video (it's super artistic!).

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  3. I think it's a really fun idea to study with BTS lyrics! Personally I have only learn from them some Japanese words and some easy Korean like 우리, 예뻐, 불타오르네, 왔어 but I definitely will incorporate into my study some deeper analysis of their lyrics, which I have read in english and discovered they are very interesting and insightful.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, keep doing that! We can find new words together.

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