BTS – BAEPSAE (ENGLISH TRANSLATION + RAMBLINGS)

BTS (방탄소년단) – 뱁새/Baepsae/Silver Spoon/Crow-Tit/Try Hard/Parrotbill, etc… Lyrics/meanings in Eng…
Buy this song and support the BTS!

The word “baepsae” also features in their song Not Today, translated as “crow-tit” on their MV.  Korean crow-tit is a small bird, also known as parrotbill.  It is a metaphor for someone with no privilege (opposite of those born with silver spoon in their mouth).

I usually only check out few famous songs from each artist, but BTS has such, such good lyrics..

And they are not straight forward. Literal translation doesn’t always work,  which makes me want to translate them more, because they’re actually quite fun and challenging.

This time, I’ll do an adaptation that conveys the ideas of the song (rather than literal translation).

 

This song is based on the phrase, “뱁새가 황새 걸음을 걸으면 가랑이 가 찢어진다” —> “If a Parrotbill walks like a Stork, it will tear its legs.”

The phrase means, “if you’re not born with ability/privilege, you should know your place.”  Korean culture is at times strange.. in that they will look down at you if you start low, saying you’ll never succeed no matter how hard you try.  Then they will turn around and say that you’re failing because you’re not trying hard enough (instead of trying to level the inequality so that efforts pay off).

Here’s a picture of Parrotbill (short and stubby and so cute!!)
baepsae


And a stork….. 황새 in Korean and apparently used to be called 한새 meaning “large bird.” This info and images are from Namu Wiki.

hwangsae

The song seems to be about people with more privilege/earlier generations (the storks), and the struggles in being expected to compete/achieve with them (as Parrotbill).

The earlier generation in Korea worked really hard, and tells the young generation now that if they worked hard, they would be able to achieve anything. But the truth is, the earlier generation (like the Baby boomers) lived in time of rapid economic growth and better job markets.  Now that the economic growth has slowed, the job market is so competitive..and “working hard” doesn’t always work.

As hard work will sometimes get you nowhere, the new generation of Korea is known to have “given up on 3” (sampo saedae mentioned in their song “Dope”), meaning to have given up on relationships, marriage, and kids. Followed by even a younger generation of “given up on 5” – relationships, marriage, kids, house and social life.

Other interesting tibits from this song as a translator.

1. There’s a phrase that is often translated as “this generation was cursed at” –> this actually means “this generation had a hard time.” I think it’s a slang from Kyungsangdo dialect.

2. Passion Pay

There’s a phrase that translates literally as “at part-time jobs, it’s passion pay”.

If you don’t know what “Passion Pay” is, this may sound like a good thing but “Passion Pay” is… a terrible thing where payment for your work is your enjoyment of the job. And NOT money.   Employers will say, “you should be happy to have a job you enjoy!”

Often, interns and part-timers will suffer for unfair pay, paid out in “enjoyment” rather than money, in hopes of padding their resume at least.   However, often they find that employers will exploit this cheap labour.  Instead of a better job, they end up having one unfair intern job after another.

The “Passion Pay” idea is even more relevant to BTS, as K-Pop industry is notorious for ripping off artists. A lot of labels are notorious for not paying the artists well, and essentially telling them they’re lucky to have had the chance to debut….

3. Idea of Silver spoon.

This does come from the same Western idea of “born with silver spoon in your mouth”.

Over time, on internet/social media/slangs, etc, this idea was expanded to include:

-Diamond spoon (Billionaires)
-Gold spoon (top 0.1% of society)
-Silver spoon (reasonably wealthy w good job)
-Bronze spoon (upper-middle class)
-Stainless steel spoon (hard-working w stable job.  This is the goal for most young Koreans)
-Clay/dirt spoon  (job w poor pay/no stability)
-Porcelain spoon (used to be Clay/dirt spoon but baked to become higher in worth. Rebel against your social status!!!  Just be careful not to break…)
-Shit spoon (not able to get even the minimum wage, no savings – almost 10% of population in Korea.  Essentially the “working poor”)
-no spoon (not able to be employed/homeless.  There is some financial support from the Government for these people, although there are some problems with that too..)
-Debt spoon (Just… never…borrow money in Korea…..  the max legal interest rate is too high…)

This info is from Namu Wiki.

EDIT:  May 1, 2016.

The idea of spoon is also in their new song “Fire”.

Semi-literally, the lyrics go something like:

“What ‘spoon’ are you, to say that?  Why do you label me, ‘this spoon, that spoon’?  I’m a human.”

–> essentially saying:

“Who are you to label me?  Stop labeling me with social status labels.”

4.  Parrotbill and Stork

The idea of not starting with privilege and having a hard time applies to how hard the young generation in Korea have it these days.

You could also say that BTS, coming from a small company, are like Parrotbills.  They probably had a lot of people tell them they have to work hard in order to succeed.   Unfortunately, there are many other artists/idols from small companies who never succeed, no matter how hard they try.  K-Pop seems like it’s a fairly brutal industry.

Although it is ironic that BTS sings this song… since they did work hard.. and they did succeed.   The song sings about how, as Parrotbill, it’s hard to compete with Storks.  But BTS, despite coming from a small company, is able to compete with the Storks.  They do seem to work incredibly hard though…

5.  “Noooooooryuk”! (Effort)

The word “Noryuk” means effort.  Over time, kids have been told to put in more and more  “noryuk” by adults….  overly stressing on this word.

노력 = “Noryuk” = effort
노오오오력 = “Noooooryuk” = effffffffort
노오오오오오오오오오오오력 = “Noooooooooooooooryuk” = efffffffffffffffffffffffort.

This is parody of the adults stressing more and more effort, regardless of whether that effort is realistic/appropriate/likely to pay off, etc.

This idea does not apply to people who work hard in appropriate situations.  (BTS is all for hard work and effort!)  It only applies to people who blindly insist on hard work, while following a goal that is not yours, in  a field of work that you hate, etc.

If you listen to this song, you can see that they pronounce it “Noooooryuk”, instead of simple “Noryuk”.

Here is a cartoon by a popular web cartoon artist, Lee Malnyun.  (who always says he draws badly, but is still popular for his sarcastic social commentaries in his work. )

noryuk

Even if you put in effort, there are many things that will strip your bank account, including student loans.  (so true in my life…)


They call me, Parrotbill.
This generation had a hard time.
Quickly, chase’em
Thanks to the Storks, my legs are all swollen.

They call me, Parrotbill.
This generation had a hard time.
Quickly, chase’em
My teacher born with silver spoon in his mouth.

At the part-time job, can’t expect fair pay.
At school, there are the teachers.
The harrassments of work superiors.
The media always says we’ve given up.

Change the rule, change change.
The storks want, want to maintain.
But this can’t go on, Bang Bang
This is not normal.
This is not normal.

Ah, stop whining about more effort, effort.
This cliche makes me cringe.
Ah effort effort, Ah effort effort.
There’s no hope from the beginning.
As expected of Stork!

Stop whining about more effort, effort.
This cliche makes me cringe.
Ah effort effort, Ah effort effort.
There’s no hope from the beginning.

(As expected of Stork) You don’t disappoint
(As expected of Stork) You’re worthy of your name.
(As expected of Stork) You rule the world.
(As expected of Stork) You Stork.

They call me, Parrotbill.
This generation had a hard time.
Quickly, chase’em
Thanks to the Storks, my legs are all swollen.

They call me, Parrotbill.
This generation had a hard time.
Quickly, chase’em
My teacher born with silver spoon in his mouth.

I have Parrotbill legs, You have Stork legs.
They say, “my legs are worth a million.”
Mine are short, so how can I compete in same field?
They say, “It should be ok if it’s the same field!”
Never Never Never.

Change the rule, change change.
The storks want, want to maintain.
But this can’t go on, Bang Bang
This is not normal.
This is not normal.

Ah, stop whining about more effort, effort.
This cliche makes me cringe.
Ah effort effort, Ah effort effort.
There’s no hope from the beginning.
As expected of Stork

Stop whining about more effort.
This cliche makes me cringe.
Ah effort effort, Ah effort effort.
There’s no hope from the beginning.
As expected of Stork

To say it’s my fault, you must be joking.
To say it’s fair, oh are you crazy.
This is Justice? You must be kiddin’ me!
You must be kiddin’ me, you you must be kiddin’ me!

Ah, stop whining about more effort.
This cliché makes me cringe.
Ah effort effort, Ah effort effort.
There’s no hope from the beginning.
As expected of Stork

Stop whining about more effort.
This cliché makes me cringe.
Ah effort effort, Ah effort effort.
There’s no hope from the beginning.

(We’re Parrotbill) We don’t disappoint
(We’re Parrotbill) We’re worthy of our name,
(We’re Parrotbill) Let’s live together.
(We’re Parrotbill) Parrotbill.

They call me, Parrotbill.
This generation had a hard time.
Quickly, chase’em
Thanks to the Storks, my legs are all swollen.

They call me, Parrotbill.
This generation had a hard time.
Quickly, chase’em
My teacher born with silver spoon in his mouth.

 

 

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25 thoughts on “BTS – BAEPSAE (ENGLISH TRANSLATION + RAMBLINGS)

  1. Thank you so much for this BUT I would ask you to remove the word “Rape” from your line “rape your bank account” – it is very inappropriate and unsettling. It would be better to say “strip bare” or just “empty”.

  2. thank you so muchh! May I translate it into my language so that other ARMYs in my country can understand more ab this song pls? Thank youuuu <3

  3. Holy crap this makes the song even better after understanding the lyrics more! This is amazing :) keep up the awesome work

  4. Thank you so much.. now I understand the lyrics I was curious about.. The meaning is so deep, make me love BTS more and more

  5. Thank you so much!!! Recently their song ‘not today’ also had baepsae word in it. Subtitles translated it as crowtit. Many new fans are confused as to what it means. So I am recommending your blog!! Thanks for this amazing explanation!!

  6. I don’t think I ever enjoyed reading a blog like reading yours.
    Not only that your ramblings are wonderfully written, exceedingly organised and they transmits a detailed explanation of the songs, but more than that they actually increase my love for BTS, because your writings make me understand the wonderful and deep meaning of their music, and the genius background of their lyrics.
    HUGE APPLAUSE TO YOU FOR THE HARD WORK. ❤❤

  7. this is a such a great explanation translation with context! all the things i wanted to say to bts listeners who don’t understand or trying to understand korean. 수고하쎴습니다. these types of lyrics aren’t common at all in mainstream kpop -which is why i appreciate/fan them even more. thank you for taking your time with the other lyrics too!

  8. Now that I’ve read most of yr bts’s songs translation I think I can relate them with their other songs.. which I totally have no idea what they mean before. Bts sure did great job in wrtiting songs & so did u in translating then thunbs up!!

  9. Really great write up! I came across them the other day and I like the song but the lyrics were too literal. You explained perfectly!

  10. Thanks a lot… I was trying to figure out the meaning but the literal translation didn’t make any sense to me at first… But thanks to this explanation now I know how awesome the lyrics are.

  11. Thanks I enjoyed reading this .The comic was funny. Sucks you wasted any of your life on loans , those suck!

  12. I just found ur blog.. it’s so interesting.. I just had a debate with my friends(sound like a serious thing..haha)..they told me that bts lyrics just like erggggg,,nonsense,,they don’t understand!! But I’m keep told them that their lyrics very unique.. it’s so different with other groups.. there are so much meaning in their lyrics.. from their songs we got to know how difficult for them to stand in that industry like the other success idol groups,,just like the lyric of Move@moving on..I keep thinking and I’m curious what is the meaning of baepsae and silver spoon..thank u so much for ur explanation.. and now I become more respect with that group.. thank u :-)

  13. Thank you for the explanation and the more comprehensible translation! As a foreigner I don’t always get the cultural references/hidden meanings behind songs, it’s always interesting to read about those.

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