San E - BAD YEAR (album cover)

[Interpretation] San E – BAD YEAR

In Miscellaneous, Translated Lyrics by Lena

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Note: BrandNew Music have not referred to this track as a “political hiphop” track and they say that there is no specific reason for the single being released at this point in time. The song had apparently been finished some time ago but was slightly edited in light of the current state of affairs. BrandNew further stated that ‘BAD YEAR’ is a love song and that the interpretation of the track is up to the listeners, which is why this post is, to be exact, not an explanation of references but an interpretation.
Fans’ reactions to the track were mixed; it reached 1st place on music charts.

Title/Pun: The X in the title ‘나쁜X’ (nappeunX) stands for ‘년’ (nyeon) which can mean either ‘year’ or ‘b*tch’. Thus the title may be interpreted as ‘BAD YEAR’, which is the official English title, or as ‘Bad B*tch’. Due to this, some people find this track misogynist.

Lyrics summary: He (first-person narrator) finds out that she (referred to as “you” or “her”) has been betraying him with another guy all this time, so he expresses his anger, saying that it’s a good thing he has broken up with her.

 

Interpretation:

 

BAD YEAR / 올핸 참 별일이 많았어 / 특히 안 좋은 일들
BAD YEAR / quite a lot has happened this year / especially bad things

South Korea has been confronted with a lot of unfortunate incidents in 2016, like child abuse, random murders, etc.

 

집 앞이야 네게 전화해 (Brrrr) / 답도 없고  / 좋게 끝내보려 했는데 / 맞어 나 조금 화난 듯  / 내려올래 (빨리) / 좀만 더 가면 걸릴 듯 / 공황장애 (Yeah)
I’m in front of your place, calling you (Brrrr) / There’s no reply / I wanted to end this nicely though / Right, I must be a bit angry / Will you come down (quickly)? / If this goes on just a bit longer, I might get / panic disorder (Yeah)

This most likely refers to the rallies near the Blue House where thousands of citizens very peacefully called out to the president to step down. In the lyrics, the “come down” refers to the girl coming out of her place up in some apartment building down to the entrance to talk to the first-person narrator.

 

사람 볼 땐 그 사람  / 눈을 보라던데 (U know) / 충혈된 네 눈 홍등가처럼 빨개  / (So Freaking Red)
They say that you should / look into people’s eyes (U know) / Your bloodshot eyes are as red as the red-light district / (So freaking red)

Choi Soon-sil’s father, a cult leader, was said to have had “complete control over Park’s body and soul during her formative years” (*), which this part likely refers to.

 

너의 혀는 / 매번 내 귀를 희롱했고
Your tongue / harrassed/played with my ears every time

This refers to the many promises Park Geun-hye made but not fulfilled.

 

하…야…, 내가 이러려고 / 믿었나 널
Sigh … hey …, did I trust you / for this?

  1. The first two syllables put together form the Korean word ‘하야’ (haya) which means ‘resignation’.
  2. The second part is likely a parody of a phrase Park Geun-hye said during her public apology. That phrase has actually been constantly parodied by netizens. Verbatim, Park said:
    “무엇으로도 국민들의 마음을 달래드리기 어렵다는 생각을 하면 ‘내가 이러려고 대통령을 했나?‘하는 자괴감이 들 정도로 괴롭기만 합니다.”
    “I think that it is difficult to appease the citizens in any way, and I am so distressed [by this] that I feel a sense of shame, asking myself if this is what I became president for.”
    A prominent parody was done by an elementary schooler during the protests this month. He held a speech in which he not only imitated the president’s voice and perfectly spoke people’s minds, he also said: “I ask myself if I’ve been going to elementary school to learn how to speak just in order to come here [and talk to all of you], and I am so distressed by this that I feel a sense of shame and cannot sleep at night.” (*)

 

네 입으로 뱉은 약속 / 매번 깨고 바꿔라 좀 레퍼토리
Every time you promised something / you went back on your word. Change your repertoire!

This once again is a clear reference to the president’s unfulfilled promises. Jun Wooyong, professor of history, said: The one who broke Park Geun-hye’s promises has always been Park Geun-hye [herself].” (*)

 

심지어 옆에 알고 보니 / 있었지 딴 놈 / 그와 넌 입을 맞추고 돌아와 / 더러운 혀로 핑계를 대 / 넌 그저 꼭두각시 / 마리오네트였을 뿐이라고
To top it off, it turns out that / there was another guy by your side / You come back from kissing him / and make excuses with your dirty tongue / You’re nothing but a puppet / I’m saying you were just a marionette

This part references Choi Soon-sil, the metaphor for her being the ex-girlfriend’s hidden lover.

 

병신년아 빨리 끝나 제발
Year of the Fire Monkey, please be over already

According to the Chinese zodiac system, 2016 is the Year of the Fire Monkey. Its Korean name is ‘병신년’ (byeongsinnyeon) which can also be interpreted as ‘retarded b*tch’. Therefore, one may read this phrase as: Retarded b*tch, please be done for already

 

정유년은 빨간 닭의 해다
2017 is the Year of the Red Rooster

The Year of the Red Rooster means ‘정유년’ (jeong-yoo-nyeon) in Korean which is a reference to Choi Soon-sil’s daughter ‘Jung Yoora’ (formerly: Jung Yooyeon) who was involved in the scandal. A literal translation would result in ‘Jung Yoo-b*tch’.

 

그저 편히 싹 맡긴 채 숨 쉴 / Bad Year Bad Bad Bad / Bad Year
Just conveniently breathe at ease and leave it all to the / Bad Year Bad Bad Bad / Bad Year

This phrase is actually rather strange and does not make too much sense content-wise (breakup/love song-wise). It is a rather clear reference to Choi Soon-sil as it contains the phrase ‘breathe at ease and leave it all to the …’, part of which can easily be misheard as Choi Soon-sil: 채 숨 쉴 (chae soom swil). Thus, one can easily read these lines as: Just conveniently leave it all to the bad b*tch Choi Soon-sil

 

그 와중에 베스트 / 단연 제일 잘한 건 / 그녈 떠난 거 얼마 안 남았어
Meanwhile, the best thing that happened, / definitely the best thing I did, / was leaving her. There’s not much time left

Prosecutors have recently judged President Park as a key-suspect in the scandal (*). Thus: “There’s not much time left …” … until Park has to account for what she has done and resign.

 

 

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