Some hard-to-translate Korean phrases that stumped our interpreter during ED artist classes
edit We have a special mini Korean lesson today: four hard-to-translate Korean phrases.
If you took any of our Artist Classes, you might be familiar with at least one of them, because these were all things that our Artist Class teachers said during class that stumped Robin, our interpreter!
*Green text : Interpreter Robin's comments*
EUNHYUK of SUPER JUNIOR: House Party
"죽이 되든 밥이 되든": EUNHYUK said this during class as a word of motivation. In English, literally translated, it means "whether it becomes porridge or rice." Can you guess what it means?
It's a figure of speech in Korean that means you should try and start a new thing or take action about something even if you don't know whether the result will be good.
When you're making rice, if you mess it up and add too much water or cook it for too long, it might turn into porridge or congee instead of rice, but you don't know that until you try it! That's what this phrase means.
Robin: When I first heard this phrase, literally I thought...I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS!! But then my brain started to finally function and understood the phrase haha
Q of THE BOYZ: KINGDOM COME
"제기차기": This is a traditional Korean game that has no direct equivalent in anglophone countries (at least that we know of), so there's no translation for it. Watch this video to see what it is:
제기 (je-gi) is the object that you kick when you play this game, and you can easily make it by tying strips of paper or plastic around a few coins.
차기 (cha-gi) means "kicking." The movement is similar to when you're kicking a soccer ball in place in the air. This is a move that's used in a few KPOP choreographies, notably Genie by Girl's Generation. Watch the part below:
Q also used this word to describe a dance move while he was teaching his choreography class. Other than a dance move, 제기차기 is also a fun game you can play by making a simple 제기 yourself. Why don't you try it out?
Robin: It took a hard minute for me to figure out what 제기차기 would mean in English. I knew what it was but it was like.. "wait.. soccer? no... lifting leg?" haha In the end I just said, it's like lifting a soccer ball with your feet haha
BAEKHYUN of EXO: Bambi
"여운이 남는다": "여운" (yeo-oon) itself is a word that doesn't have a direct equivalent in English. It means something similar to "lingering sentimentality," "emotional afterglow," or "lasting impression." The word "여운" is also rarely used outside of this specific phrase. "남는다" means remain or last, so "여운이 남는다" can be translated roughly to something like "there is a lasting (or remaining) sentimentality." Think of it like a pleasant emotional aftertaste that you feel in the aftermath of something. It took us an entire paragraph to explain this phrase: you can see how it was very difficult for Robin to translate this on the spot!
Robin: Yea.. I just looked at the artist and was like...WHAT? haha In the end, I had to ask some of the other ED teammates how they would express this phrase and they all just looked at me in a " 🤷 IDK 🤷♂️ " face.. 🤦♀️
KAI of EXO: Mmmh
"날로 먹는다": This phrase literally means "eat raw," and you can use it literally to mean you're eating something (fish, meat, etc.) raw as well. KAI used it figuratively, which then refers to putting in no effort and achieving or doing something. It's often used in a slightly derogatory way: you might use the phrase to criticize someone who's doing something with low effort, such as when someone does not do their job correctly.
KAI said this near the end of part 2 of the class, when he said that by learning two choreography elements, you are learning half the song. As he used it in this context, 날로 먹는다 meant that it's not so difficult to learn the choreography for Mmmh because you can learn half the song if you just learn two things. Do you agree? If you want to learn or review the song, you can watch a performance clip by the original choreographer, our instructor Mihawk Back.
Robin: Honestly though, this wasn't that difficult to interpret.. but trying to relay the feeling that KAI was trying to explain to the trainees was difficult!
Today we looked at a few advanced Korean phrases together. These words and phrases are commonly used in everyday spoken Korean, so they are quite useful to learn!
As you watch, our Artist Classes are full of helpful tips with a side of fun interactions with the artists and the trainees.
When you take one of the future Artist Classes, you'll probably be hearing Robin's brain malfunctioning sometimes through the mic too.
We hope you enjoyed this Predebut and see you in the next ED Artist Class!