Tag: jungkook

Learn Korean with BTS: “DNA”

You’ve probably heard by now, but it’s worth stating again: BTS has officially made history by having the most-viewed K-pop group MV of all time. As of the time of this writing, the group’s “DNA” has garnered 349,087,608 views.

And the number is only getting higher.

In celebration of this monumental achievement, we thought it would be great if we used their song to learn a little Korean. I mean, there’s no better way to learn than through BTS, right?

Right?

We’d thought you’d agree. After all, who doesn’t want to sing along with Jungkook and V—and actually understand what they’re saying?

So let’s take a look at a few of the lyrics—mainly the pre-chorus—and break them down in a simple, easy-to-learn way.

Pre-chorus Line 1:

걱정하지 마 love [keok-jeong-ha-ji-ma love]

Okay, this one’s probably pretty simple, even if you haven’t studied much Korean. The Korean in this line can be broken down into two main parts, and if you’re familiar with K-dramas, you’ve probably already committed both parts to memory.

Let’s break it down.

걱정하(다) + 지마(ㄹ다)

keok-jeong-ha-(da) + ji-ma(l da)

For now, you can ignore the parts in parentheses and just focus on the core words. The root of the first part is 걱정 (keok-jeong), and it simply means “worry.” For example, you may feel “걱정” (keokjeong) about a difficult exam that’s coming up or if you’ve made a mistake and suspect you will get in trouble.

걱정 (keokjeong) is a noun. It can be made into a verb by adding 하(다). You can ignore the 다 for this sentence. Simply put, 걱정 (keokjeong) the noun becomes 걱정하(다) keok-jeong-ha-(da) the verb, and this verb mean “to worry.”

Let’s look at it this way:

걱정 (keokjeong) = worry (n.)

걱정하다 (keokjeonghada) = to worry (v.)

Pretty simple, right? You can now understand the first half of the sentence!

So let’s take a look at the second half “지 마” (ji ma). Technically, 지 마 (ji ma) comes from the dictionary form “지 말다” (ji malda), but you don’t need to know this. You can completely ignore this for now because you will not need this for casual, spoken Korean.

Instead, let’s focus on the meaning of “지 마” (ji ma). If someone says a sentence that ends with “지 마” (ji ma), they are telling you not to do something. In other words, they are saying DON’T do something.

And, again, if you’ve watched K-dramas, you probably know this.  It’s very common to hear sentences such as “하지 마” (don’t do it) or 가지 마 (don’t go) in Korean dramas, and even in many Kpop songs.

So let’s combine the two parts of our sentence:

걱정하(다) (keok-jeong-ha [da])  = to worry 지 마 (ji ma) = don’t

걱정하지 마 (keok-jeong-ha-ji-ma) = don’t worry

And the line is: 걱정하지 마 love (keok-jeong-ha-ji-ma love)

Basically, Jungkook is telling you “don’t worry, love”

Congratulations! We’ve got the first line done. You might be surprised to learn that it’s simpler than you think!

Just for fun, look at the following words and see if you can figure out what they mean:

가지마 ga-ji-ma

하지마 ha-ji-ma

떠나지마 ddeo-na-ji-ma

울지마 ul-ji-ma

So, let’s look at the next line and see what it means.

Pre-chorus Line 2:

“이 모든 건 우연이 아니니까”

In the first line, Jungkook is telling you NOT TO WORRY, and in this line, he is explaining WHY.

What’s the reason, then?

First let’s take all the words and see how they translate into English. Some of these words have particles or are CONJUGATED, which means that they are changed from their original forms to make the sentence grammatically correct. At first, we will ignore the conjugations and focus on just the meanings of the words.

이 (ee) = this

모든 (mo-deun) = all

건 (geon) = thing, stuff

Note: 건 is a combination of the words 것 (geot), which means thing, and the particle 은 (eun), which attaches to nouns and makes them the topic of the sentence. FOR NOW, YOU CAN IGNORE THIS GRAMMAR RULE AND SIMPLY REMEMBER THAT 건 (geon) MEANS “THING OR STUFF.”

우연 (oo-yeon) = chance, coincidence

Note: the 이 (ee) at the end of 우연 (oo-yeon) does NOT mean “this.” It’s a subject particle. It means that 우연 (oo-yeon) is the subject of the sentence. If this is too difficult for you now, you can IGNORE IT AND STILL UNDERSTAND THE SONG.

아니(다) (a-ni-[da]) = no, not

Note: The dictionary form of “no, not” is 아니다 (a-ni-da), but, like the example above (걱정하지 마), the last part 다 (da) is dropped for grammatically reasons. Just remember that 아니 (a-ni) means “no, not.”

니까 (ni-kka) = because

Note: This word “because” attaches to the end of verbs (meaning it’s put on the end of words like 하다 (ha-da) and 아니다 (a-ni-da). It REPLACES the 다 (da).

Now that we know all the words, let’s look at the sentence again.

이 (this) 모든 (all) 건 (stuff) 우연 (coincidence)이 아니 (not) 니까 (because)

Ee (this) mo-deun (all) geon (stuff) oo-yeon (coincidence)ee a-ni (not) ni-kka (because)

So, what is it in English? Let’s change the word order and see what we get:

Because all of this stuff is not coincidence, OR MORE NATURALLY

Because none of this is coincidence.

That’s a pretty complicated sentence, so if you got all of that, go ahead and pat yourself on the back. Don’t worry too much if you don’t exactly get all the ends and outs of the grammar just yet. If you are passionate about your Korean studies, you will pick it up in no time! In fact, we have developed a study plan here that will help improve your Korean fluency in no time, if that’s what you want.

But enough of that. Let’s take a look at what we’ve got all together.

걱정하지 마 love

이 모든 건 우연이 아니니까

Keok-jeong-ha-ji-ma love

Ee mo-deun geon oo-yeon-ee a-ni-ni-kka

Don’t worry love

Because none of this is coincidence

That’s A LOT of Korean, especially if you’ve never formally learned. And if you can understand all of that, there’s a good chance that you will be great at Korean one day! But there are still two more lines in the pre-chorus we should look at, so first let’s see what they are.

Pre-chorus Line 3:

우린 완전 달라 baby

oo-rin wan-jeon dal-la baby

This is a shorter sentence, and it’s pretty simple, too. Breaking it down, we have

우리 oo-ri = we, us

Note: In the song, V and Joongkuk say 우린 (oo-rin), which is just 우리 (oo-ri) + 는 (neun), a topic marking particle. You can ignore this and just know that 우린 “oo-rin” also means “We”

완전 wan-jeon = completely, extremely

달라 dal-la = different

Note: This verb has already been conjugated. For now, you do not need to know the dictionary form.

So this sentence, when put together, looks like this:

우린 (we) 완전 (completely) 달라 (different) baby

oo-rin (we) wan-jeon (completely) dal-la (different) baby

Rearrange the words again, and what do we get?

We are completely different, baby

Great! That’s already three lines of DNA that you can now understand without subtitles. If you want to remember these words better, I suggest you use them in your daily conversations. For example, don’t think that you REALLY love BTS. Think that you 완전 (wan-jeon) love them. Or even that you 완전 좋아해 (wan-jeon joh-a-hae) them. It may sound silly, but it will help you remember the words!

Now we only have one line left, and then we should be able to understand the whole pre-chorus. That’s pretty exciting. So let’s look at the next and final line.

Pre-chorus Line 4:

운명을 찾아낸 둘이니까

Un-myeong-eul cha-ja-naen dul-ee-ni-kka

You should probably recognize some of this. 니까 (ni-kka) was used before in line two, and it means “because.” Since you already know what this word means, you can guess that this sentence is also explaining something. Let’s look at the words one-by-one.

운명(을) un-myeong-(eul) = destiny

Note: Here, the 을 eul means that the word is the “object” of the sentence. You can ignore this grammar if you do not want to focus on it.

찾아내(다) cha-ja-nae-(da) = to find, to discover

Note: The dictionary form ends with 다 (da), but, like before, this word is already conjugated. The song uses 찾아낸 (cha-ja-naen), which makes the word an adjective meaning “found, discovered.” Simply put: 찾아낸 (cha-ja-naen) = FOUND, DISCOVERED.

둘이 dul-ee = two people

니까 (ee) ni-kka= because

So the sentence is:

운명 (destiny)을 찾아낸 (found, discovered) 둘이 (two people) 니까 (because we are)

And the translation will look something like

Because we are two people who have discovered destiny.

And we’re done! I know this last sentence is longer and a bit more complicated than some of the others. But if you can remember the specific vocabulary words, you shouldn’t have a problem remembering what this means. So try singing along next time you listen to “DNA” (and every time for that matter). You will find that the meaning will come naturally to you, and pretty soon you won’t have any difficulty understand it at all!

Now that we have finished the whole pre-chorus, let’s look at our hard work all together and admire ourselves for a little bit.

걱정하지 마 love

이 모든 건 우연이 아니니까

우린 완전 달라 baby

운명을 찾아낸 둘이니까

Keong-jeong-ha-ji-ma love

Ee mo-den geon oo-yeon-ee a-ni-ni-kka

oo-rin wan-jeon dal-la baby

un-myeong-eul cha-ja-naen dul-ee-ni-kka

Don’t worry love

Because none of this is coincidence

We’re completely different baby

Because we’re two people who’ve discovered destiny

I’ve been translating Korean songs for many years now, but I must admit, it’s still pretty exciting. Whenever you can understand words that you didn’t know before—especially when they are sung by your bias—there’s a certain feeling of achievement and happiness that you just can’t describe.

And that’s not to mention the feeling you have when you translate a record-breaking song. I’m sure we’re all proud of BTS for their achievement. Likewise, we need to be proud of ourselves for our hard work and being able to understand the words they are singing. After all, learning any foreign language to any degree is a remarkable feat.

So go celebrate! Now’s the time to turn on “DNA” and jam like you haven’t before. As you dance and whistle, don’t forget to sing along to improve your memory and get one step closer to achieving your Korean study goals!

I hope you’ve realized through this exercise that studying Korean can be fun.

Especially with BTS.

After all, it’s in our DNA.

Disclaimer: All rights to lyrics and music for “DNA” belong to BitHit Entertainment, BTS, and all rightful owners. The lyrics printed in this blog are done so in fair use.