BTS – Ma City (English Translation + Ramblings)

Ma City
Lyrics are from Naver Music


Oct 2016 – update RE:  Ilbe at the bottom of the post (’cause the explanation’s long)


I figured I should translate some songs that are not diss-tracks (as much as I love them ^^).

This one seems so personal to the members, which is why I love it.  Unfortunately, the post is starting to look like a tour guide. ^^;;

Most of information/pictures are from Namu wiki (see below for more detailed links/credits)


small cities on outskirts of Seoul (the capital) – RM/Jin
Jeolla Province – J-Hope
Gyeongsang province  – Suga/V (North),  Jimin/JK (South)

These 3 groupings are significant, as they’re often districts of opposing political power.   (see blurb at the bottom of this post)

P and B are often used interchangeably (Busan often written as Pusan)
K and G are often used interchangeably (Gyeongsang sometimes written as Kyungsang, etc.  Kyungsangdo = Gyeongsang province).  I’m so used to writing Kyungsangdo, it’s hard to write the current formal way of Gyeonsang Province.

Lyrics in blue
my notes in grey


No matter where you live
No matter where I live

I ran for a long time
I ran for a long time again 
Yeah I’ll be ridin and I’ll be dyin’
In ma city


RM (Ilsan)

I don’t know what to say
I won’t say it even if I were to die
to say I’ll live somewhere else, even for a billion dollars?
ah no thanks
Ilsan, the place I want to be buried when I die


The city of Ilsan is fairly new, adjacent to Seoul and a lot of people commute to Seoul.

It’s the city of the flower, city of Mon.

flower foundation

Goyang International Flower Foundation in Ilsan
La Festa and Western Dom that seem like Home to me

la festa

La Festa (trendy mall – focusing on young people’s fashion)

western dom

Western Dom (trendy mall – focusing on eatery/arcades, etc)
The Hugok cram school district that raised me, uh

As this city is on the outskirts of Seoul, the education is very competitive and has a district of many cram schools that it is famous for.
RM said on World Changing Quiz, that he went to 40-50 different cram schools in his school career (they often have a different cram school for each subject).   Then he transferred to a school in Gangnam (where the song Gangnam Style comes from –  one of the most expensive districts in Seoul).  He said that in Gangnam, some cram schools only accept top few % of students, regardless of how much money the student is willing to pay.

The place that seems most harmonious, uh
Nature and city, Building and flowers, uh
I like Lake Park more than the Han River

ilsan man made

Lake Park (half man-made and half-natural lake) in Ilsan.

han river

Han River passes through middle of Seoul.
It’s smaller but is more cozy with its embrace
When I feel like I’m losing myself
I find my faded self in that place
Remember your scent, and everything
You’re my summer, autumn,
winter and every spring




Hey, It’s the Busan Sea

A lot of people thought this line sounded like Bitch Better Have My Money.  However, Busan dialect has a lot of ups and downs in tone in its natural dialect.  If an excited person said this line in Busan dialect, it would actually sound similar in tone to the song.

pusan sea 3

The Busan Sea (AKA.  Pusan).  Busan Metropolitan city is the second largest city in Korea, and is on Southern tip of the peninsula (on opposite end from Seoul).  It is in Gyeongsang province.

Say la la la la la
This sky line under the blue sky

pusan sea 2

Busan skyline

Say la la la la la
Uncles put your hands up
Aunties wave your hands
Come to Ma City
This part is sang in Busan dialect.

Come to ma city
I hope you like it
Know how to party
in this city that raised me

Yes babe babe, this is my city
(Welcome to ma city)

I ran for a long time
I ran for a long time again 
Yeah I’ll be ridin and I’ll be dyin’
In ma city, city 
Ma city, ma city yeah




J-Hope (Kwangju)

I’m baby of Gwangju city, from Jeolla Province


Gwangju Metropolitan City, in  Jeolla Province. 
Even when my steps take me to the mountains, it would be
Moodeung Mountain peaks every day, every day

moodeung mt

Moodeung Mountains (essentially within walking distance to this city of more than a million people, so much loved)
My life is hot, with the heat of the south
Treat heat with more heat, there is no giving up
Gwangju is fairly south, and it is not close to sea to moderate the temperature, so it can be quite hot.
There is a saying in Korea, to “treat heat with more heat” where people will eat hot spicy foods on a hot day.  I guess they feel a relief when they stop eating and the heat doesn’t seem as bad once they stop torturing themselves…^^;;;  This is in the same philosophy as “treating poison with small amount of another poison,” or “upping the ante” if you have a problem.
I put in the Kia, and turn on the gear, and bounce like crazy
A branch of Kia Motors used to work out of this region.  Kia is also written same as “Gear” in Korean. “I put in the gear”.  Also, a lot of people are fans of “Kia Tigers”, which is a baseball team.
With just dancing, I dreamed the big dream of being a singer
Now in reality, I jump on the stage with music
You saw it.  Full of passion
I’m Hoshikie from Gwangju, all of the nation should kneel
“kneel” also sounds like Kia/Gear.
Hoshikie is Hoseokie (eg. J-Hope’s name, in an endearment form) pronounced in Jeolla dialect.
If you want to see me, the time is 7 o’clock, gather around
Gwangju is in 7 o’clock position compared to Seoul/North Korea.
Please see bottom of this post for informatin re:  this line + Ilbe. 
Everyone press 062-518
062 is area code for Gwangju City
5.18 represents the May 18th, Democratic Uprising in 1980.This was a citizens/student uprising, to fight against authoritarian government.  The government tried to frame it as “communist uprising” for propaganda, during the Cold War, and it took a number of years for the truth to come out.  
Kim Dae-Jung, who was a leader to this uprising, served prison sentence for his involvement, but later became a Korean president and the first Korean president to win the Nobel Peace prize (more about politics at the end).




Hey, It’s the Busan Sea

pusan sea 4

Say la la la la la
This sky line under the blue sky

pusan sea 5
Say la la la la la
Uncles put your hands up
Aunties wave your hands
Come to Ma City

Come to ma city
I hope you like it
Know how to party
in this city that raised me

Yes babe babe, this is my city
(Welcome to ma city)


Suga (Daegu)

I was born in Daegu and raised in Daegu


Daegu!  Metropolitan city.   Also part of Gyeongsang province.
It’s hard to get transfusion, the blue blood in me
The blue blood is often used to describe a true “lineage” of people from specific location.  Here, it also refers to him likely being fan of baseball team, Samsung Lions.
You might think, “is this bastard ever going to get tired of talking about Daegu every day?”
But I’m a D boy, Yes I’m a D boy
Honestly, there’s not much to brag about Daegu
This is true.  Daegu is a fairly ordinary large city.
Gyeongsang province just has so many more famous cities.  Busan, which is a very large port city.  Or Gyungju, which has very long history as capital of Silla Kingdom from centuries ago.  V’s drama Hwarang is about Silla Kingdom.   

The fact I was born there can be the pride of Daegu, wuh
Yeah? Ah yeah
Because there’s not much to be proud of, you have to become a source of pride, don’t you think?
Ayo, “The most successful guy from Daegu”
I’m gonna hear that someday, just watch
I’m gonna be the pride of Daegu, the new wind of the new generation
Daegu’s past, present and future



Come to ma city
I hope you like it
Know how to party
in this City that raised me

Yes babe babe, this is my city
(Welcome to ma city)

I ran for a long time
I ran for a long time again 
Yeah I’ll be ridin and I’ll be dyin’
In ma city, city 
Ma city, ma city yeah

La la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la
No matter where you live, no matter where you are
Ma city, city
Ma city, ma city yeah yea


Gwacheon City (Jin!) as a bonus.gwachun

It’s a very small city (about 70 000 ppl), adjacent to Seoul. It is actually on Seoul subway line.  If you’re from here (or even Ilsan), most people assume you’re essentially from Seoul/neighboring district.


Exceedingly basic information regarding politics (especially, illustrating the J-Hope part/political oppression of Jeolla province, etc)  

I only have very basic knowledge of Korean politics, so this is just a very short blurb, mostly to give you a bit of idea of time line and how the various regions were involved.

-Korea had been a fairly isolated but independent country for centuries. Geographically, it’s a peninsula surrounded by sea on 3 sides, and the small piece of land that attaches it to China is very mountainous.  The country was also very conservative – which in addition to its geography made it very isolated.
-randomly in 1910, there was Japanese Annexation of Korea. (I think the Prime minister  sold the country out, and Japanese thought it legit, even though it was not actually signed by the king.  It was later agreed that this annexation was really null and void.)
-While Koreans were still fighting to get independence back, WWII happened in 1940’s.  Japan lost, and as loot of war, Russia took north Korea and US took South Korea.   US put someone, who was essentially a US puppet as a president of Korea.
Korean War 1950-1953.  This war never actually ended.  They held a “truce/break” which  has been ongoing to this day.
-1963 – President Park Chung-hee takes power through military coup.  There was some stomping of human rights, although fighting against starvation was more of a priority back then..  South Korea was actually much poorer than even  North Korea.   There was rapid economic growth during this time, so some Koreans view him as a reasonable/necessary evil, while others view him as a dictator.
I think he ruled a bit too long, and was assassinated in 1979 (after 16 years of rule).
He was also the father of the current president ex-president who was impeached.  And brother to the grandmother of Eun Ji-won.
He was from Gyeongsang province.   You can imagine what happens to corruption and nepotism, when the ruler is from one region for 16 years.  Gyeongsang Province was given favoritism at Jeolla province’s expense for a lot of these years.
-After another military coup in 1979, Chun Doo-hwan became president, ruling for 1980-1988.  He is also from the Gyeonsang Province (thus, in total of 25 years of rule from this region, just based on these 2 presidents alone).  It was early in his power, that the May 18, 1980 Democratic Uprising happened in Jeolla province.   He was probably the most corrupt of the presidents and after his rule finished, was tried and sentenced to death for various crimes against humanity, although was later pardoned.
-This was followed by another couple of presidents from Gyeongsang Province.
Kim Dae-Jung, from Jeolla province, who led the May 18, 1980 Democratic Uprising, became president for 1998-2003.  The people of this region are naturally quite proud of him.  This finally broke the decades of rule that favored Gyeongsang province.
-then followed by a couple of other presidents. (one of them was still from Gyeongsang province…)
Current president (female president!) is Park Geun-Hae (2013-expected to be in power until 2018)  …. sigh………….

October 2016

Update re: Ilbe and J-Hope’s line.

I’ve read some article comments where people were wondering about what Ilbe means regarding J-Hope’s line.
If you want to see me, the time is 7 o’clock, gather around

Ilbe is an internet forum.
Initially, it originated out of DC Gallery, which is a politically incorrect forum to begin with.  There was a category calle “Ilbe (short for Ilgan best = daily best)” there, where most popular posts from that day were posted.  These tended to be usually the most controversial and politically incorrect posts (from a forum that is generally politically incorrect to begin with).  Some of these were inappropriate enough that they were deleted.

Ilbe was created to back up these posts, before they were censored and deleted.. before becoming an independent forum themselves.   Their main characteristic is that they love the extreme view points and hide behind the anonymity to post the most politically incorrect things – including making fun of national tragedies.

For example, when the Sewol ferry sank, killing a number of high-school students, a kid claiming to be part of Ilbe community posted (wearing the school uniform) a picture of himself eating fish cake with a comment “I’m eating my friends.”  –> meaning his friends who drowned were eaten by the fish, and now he’s eating the fish cake.  I think this person actually was charged and went through trial (I think he ended up serving jail time too, although I’m not sure)

Gwangju is in 7 o’clock position from Seoul/North Korea on the map.

518, the May 18th, Democratic Uprising in 1980 was a national tragedy where innocent people fighting against authoritarian regime died.  Even more tragic is that the government tried to cover it up by saying these people were working with North Korea, and labelled them as traitors of South Korea.  They lived with this for many years before the truth came out.  It’s bad enough to lose loved ones but to have them incorrectly labelled as traitors and be discriminated was really hard on this region.

Ilbe still tries to claim that the May 18th happened in cahoots with North Korea and refuse to see any proof.   The whole forum is generally very discriminating but specifically persecutory to people of Gwangju.   They call Gwangju “7 o’clock” (I guess in relation to North Korea), implying they were working with the North Korea.

J-Hope’s line:
If you want to see me, the time is 7 o’clock, gather around

seems to imply that, “if you want to call us 7’oclock, gather around and come face me.”

EDIT:  August 2017

I wanted to also add that Suga did a song about 518 062 in his pre-debut days.  I think this is specifically important because Suga is from Gyeongsang province that had oppressed the Jeolla province.  There are still a lot of people, especially older adults in Gyoengsang province, that look down on those from Jeolla province.

It is not so surprising for someone from a region that was oppressed (eg. Jeolla) to sing about the oppression.  But how common is it for someone who comes from the region that used to do the oppression (eg. Gyeongsang) to sing that the oppression was wrong, and to support the victims?

In BTS, you can also see that even though JH is the only one from Jeolla province (while there are 4 members from Gyeongsang), all the members respect his regional pride.

I feel this type of mentality is frequently seen in BTS songs.

The underdogs can sing about being underdogs but it should also be those with silver spoons who help make the world more fair.  Those who are under the glass ceiling shouldn’t be the only ones to struggle to break it – those who have experience breaking through it and those who are above the glass ceiling should be taking responsibility for breaking it as well.  Those who are from oppressed Jeolla province are not the only ones who should be supporting this region  – but the provinces that did the oppressing can admit their faults and help support them as well.


some pictures and info are from:
namu wiki: ilsan, lake parkwestern dom, la festa, Goyang International Flower Foundation, han river, pusan sea , kwangju, moodeung mt, kia tigers, daegu, kim daejung, May 18th Democratic Uprising against Military Regime,
in Gwangju

10 thoughts on “BTS – Ma City (English Translation + Ramblings)

  1. Hi!
    I really love this song and went recently to Busan. I found your post by chance but I just want to say that it’s a wonderful post packed with interesting information I had no idea about. Being a fan of BTS I wanted to visit their home cities and your text helped me a lot understanding and planning things. The discussion in the comments is also interesting. I guess I will check your other posts from now on. Many thanks, keep up the good job! ^^

  2. i think it’s interesting what you said about the oppressed/oppressors (?) in bts, because other than these political stuff, there are also some social class dynamics. you see yoongi and hoseok talking about baepsaes and dirty spoons a lot, and we all know yoongi had worked a bunch of part-time jobs and all that predebut. but jin, on the other hand, is the son of a rich CEO and honestly, i’m rambling but this is just interesting heh

  3. I’m speechless BTS artist are genius ..and thank you for your explanation you did a good job ..good bless u always ..

  4. The Japanese hadn’t really took Korea for no reason, this goes way back to the Yuan Dynasty (I think) Where the Chinese had power over half of Korea (Basically North Korea) and the Japanese wanted grow and therefore had to gain power through Korea and fight against China.

    1. I know they had small battles between them constantly, but I think Korea was partially protected by its geography.
      I don’t think the Chinese Empire (the central part) was all that interested in taking over Korea completely….They totally were powerful enough to do so, but Korea is a tiny country, waaaay on the far side of the continent, attached by a tiny piece of land that’s totally mountainous (since Korea is a penninsula). I think there were constant battles with the neighboring Chinese lands though, with moving of the border back and forth.
      The Japanese nation seems to have been much more ambitious military-wise than Korea. I think they wanted to gain power through most of Asia…. Prior to the past couple of hundred years though, I think the sea between them did protect Korea to some extent, and kept things on a smaller scale (albeit frequent).

      1. Forgive this is super long, very late comment, but I’m taking a class on Korean history rn and a class on Tokugawa Japan and I’m just really excited to talk about it.
        While it is accurate that the Yuan dynasty controlled Korea, first of all that was a mongol dynasty so I really don’t think it has anything to do with Japan’s eventual annexation, and second, even then Korea was still set up as a semi-autonomous tribute state, not directly ruled by the Chinese/Mongols/whatever. I think China never conquered Korea because they really had no reason to, since Korea was a loyal tribute state even through the 19th century and the shit show that erupted after the Kanghwa Treaty was signed with Japan. As a tribute state Korea was able to affirm China’s central place in the tribute system/in East Asia in a way that they couldn’t have if they were conquered.

        As far was what Japan’s reasoning was for annexing Korea, and why it happened in 1910 as opposed to earlier, I think it was mostly part of their attempt to prove that they were a modern state equal to the great powers in the West after the Meiji Restoration. Prior to the Meiji Restoration Japan was pretty much just chilling. They were peaceful for basically the entire Tokugawa period, and as this was the period of Sakoku (which is a problematic term, but whatevs) there was really no political will to invade Korea (especially with Hideyoshi’s failure in the Imjin Wars still somewhat fresh). I think the Imjin Wars show that geography wasn’t really what kept Japan from invading sooner, since they were able to launch two invasions with hundreds of thousands of troops in 1592. There just wasn’t really a desire to invade until Japan decided that they wanted to be able to compete with the West, and that they would need an empire to do it. Geography actually kind of worked against Korea when annexation eventually happened because they were seen as kind of a bridge to the eventual conquering of China.
        Also, unrelated, but I had never heard of the Gwangju Uprising until I read this translation, and now I’m writing a research paper for a class tracing the development of political consciousness in participants in various Korean uprisings and that was all kind of inspired by reading this, so many many thanks for turning me onto an incredibly interesting part of Korean history. I really love your translations and they’ve made me appreciate BTS so much more than I already did.

        1. Thank you for the interesting information. :)

          I know there were lots of small battles between China, but I think the central China wasn’t really interested in completely taking over Korea. China kinda lorded over the whole continent back then, but as you say, I think they still left Korea to do their own thing and be fairly autonomous. China was pretty busy fighting within China and with Mongolia over years, so Korea was probably fairly low on their list of priorities (at least for the central Chinese government). I think the smaller Chinese states/lords bordering Korea often had small battles with Korea frequently though.

          And yes, the Japanese Annexation is a completely different issue. They had Western influences much earlier than Korea and wanted an empire, I think they wanted something like the British Empire.

          Prior to the annexation, there was a lot of small bits of fighting between Japan and Korea. Imjin wars is more well-known, but outside of that, there were constant fighting of small battles between the two countries, for centuries. I think these were largely initiated by Japan. Korea back then had very book-ish scholarly culture. To get further in life as aristocrats, you had to read a lot and write well… and being good in military was not as important. While Japan was a very militant country.

          I wouldn’t say that Japan was “chilling” prior to Meiji Restoration, at least not from Korean point of view. They attacked a lot, really really frequently, and they had a lot of small battles. If you go to places like Korean palaces, and read signs explaining each section, it’s constantly like, “this used to be the rooms for this queen, who was assassinated by Japanese during this battle”, or “this area of the palace burned down because of that Japanese invasion, but was restored, ” etc, etc. all the time. The Imjin war was a big war but the intent to invade Korea outside of this war was frequent and ongoing for many centuries. Prior to 1900’s though, it took a lot of resources to attack across a sea (before the technology improved), so most of these fights were smaller and not enough to overtake Korea. It’s true that an centrally organized large wars weren’t as frequent, but there were a lot fighting. I’m just glad that the sea was there, because I think there would have been more larger wars without that barrier (at least for 1800’s or earlier).

          1. I know basically nothing about Chinese history, so I’ll trust you on that.

            But by “chilling” I meant that the Tokugawa period was a 200 year period of peace. Between the Siege of Osaka in 1615 and like the 1840s there was essentially no warfare on the archipelago (except kind of the Shimabara Rebellion). I’m not saying that the Imjin Wars were the only time Japan attacked Korea prior to annexation, but I am saying that during the Tokugawa Period there was basically no political will to invade any foreign country, so after the Imjin Wars there wasn’t really much happening between Japan and Korea except for trade. For most of that period it was illegal to even leave Japan. Like shipbuilding was banned by Tokugawa Iemitsu in the 1630s. My argument was that after the Meiji Restoration Japan started to emulate western countries and western imperialism that’s when you get things like the assassination of Queen Min and the Kapsin Coup.

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