Hello everyone! My name is Ben and I hope to bring you some useful weekly Korean lessons for the next few months. As a learner of Korean myself, I know how hard it is to gain fluency in a language, but as long as you stick at it and practise with material that you enjoy, then things will pick up a lot faster! My reading definitely improved the most when I was singing my heart out in noraebangs (노래방 – literally “song room”) in Korea!
Today, we will be looking at Big Bang’s latest song, Loser. If you have haven’t seen it yet, check it out now!
What do you think of the music video? Notice TOP’s new hairstyle and TaeYang’s lip piercings? The song probably isn’t as catchy and upbeat as their other comeback single, BAE BAE, but the melody and overall atmosphere of the song definitely reminds me a bit of BLUE, and I was hooked on that song! Anyway I noticed a few things in the lyrics of the chorus that you might find interesting, so let’s take a look!
I’m a loser, 외톨이, 센 척 하는 겁쟁이,
못된 양아치, 거울 속에 넌…
Just a loser, 외톨이, 상처뿐인 머저리,
더러운 쓰레기, 거울 속에 난
I’m a loser, a loner, a coward who pretends to act strong,
A mean gangster-wannabe; you in the mirror are…
Just a loser, a loner, a fool who only gets hurt,
Dirty rubbish; that’s me in the mirror
There is some deep self reflection going on here, eh? I could definitely sense the melancholic vibe from the music video beginning with GD. Did you notice his side-burn noose tattoo? You can tell the producers have tried to focus on their actions and raw emotions as you barely see them actually singing in the video (in fact only Taeyang does some brief lip syncing). Instead we see TOP crying, Seungri destroying things and Daesung’s pain of being beaten up. Anyway, now for some Korean!
I have highlighted the phrase 센 척 하는 겁쟁이 (sen cheok ha-neun gup-jjaeng-i) because it involves two very useful terms found in everyday Korean. These are 척 (cheok) and 쟁이 (jaeng-i).
척 is used to describe when someone pretends to do something and it is formed by attaching -ㄴ/은/는 척 하다 to the end of a verb. The example given in the lyrics is 센 척 which translates as pretending to be strong. 세다 is the infinitive form that you will find in the dictionary, so the verb stem is formed by dropping -다, leaving you with 세. 척 is often followed by 하다 (hada) which by itself means to do. Therefore, 세 + ㄴ 척 하다 gives us 센 척 하다 – to pretend to be strong.
Here are a few examples of how to form this construction:
자다 – to sleep; 자는 척 하다 – to pretend to sleep
모르다 – to not know; 모르는 척 하다 – to pretend not to know
슬프다 – to be sad; 슬픈 척 하다 – to pretend to be sad
공부하다 – to study; 공부 하는 척 하다 – to pretend to study
I like this word as it sounds kinda cute and it is normally used in a more playful context. Firstly, 쟁이 always describes a person. Secondly, the noun that 쟁이 attaches to describes a trait or quality that the person has a lot of. In the song, we hear 겁쟁이. 겁 means fear, therefore combined with 쟁이, we get a person who has a lot of fear; i.e. a coward. See how we got there?
Here are few more common 쟁이 words you should know!
멋쟁이 – a cool/ stylish person
거짓말쟁이 – a (constant) liar, someone who always lies
개구쟁이 – a prankster; a young kid who likes to get up to no good
고집쟁이 – a stubborn person; someone who ignores something and keeps doing things their own way
Can you see where they have come from? Check the vocab list below to see if you were right!
Finally, here are some examples of how to use 척 and 쟁이 words in a sentence:
1. 모르는 척 하지 마.
mo-reu-neun cheok ha-ji ma.
Don’t pretend like you don’t know.
2. 빅뱅 맴버들 다 멋쟁이야!
bik baeng mem-beo-deul da meot-jjaeng-i-ya!
All the members of Big Bang are so cool!
3. 못 알아들었는데도 아는 척 했어요.
mot a-ra-deu-reon-neun-de-do a-neun cheok he-sseo-yo
Even though I didn’t understand, I pretended that I could (lit. I pretended to know)
4. A: 아픈 척 하고 파티에 안갔어.
a-peun cheok ha-go pa-ti-e an-ga-sseo
B: 진짜 거짓말쟁이네!
A: I didn’t go to the party, pretending I’m sick.
B: You are such a liar!
Well that’s about it for this week, I hope you enjoyed this lesson! Why not practise making a few sentences in the comments section and feel free to ask any questions or any other songs you would like me to cover.
그럼, 다음 주에 봐요! See you next week ^^
나 I/ me; this is in banmal (intimate speech) form, so you would never use it when talking to anyone older than you, only to friends and children.
너 you; there are more than 50 ways to say you in Korean, but again, this being banmal (intimate speech), you should only ever use this form with your friends. I will go into more depth about how to use pronouns in a future lesson as it is very important to use the correct level of speech whenever you say anything in Korean. (You wouldn’t want to get in a fight now, would you?)
외톨이 loner; you have probably heard this from CN Blue’s 외톨이야
양아치 gangster-wannabe; it’s hard to find a good English equivalent for this (it’s basically someone who tries to act hard, but isn’t exactly a gangster
stupid/fool; similar to 바보 (babo)
못되다 bad, mean
-척 하다 to pretend to (do something)
-뿐 only, just; have a listen to JYP’s 너뿐이야 (only you)
-인 that/ who; a modifier describing a noun
멋 smartness, style, coolness
고집이 세다 to be stubborn