BTS – Her (English translation and Ramblings)

Outro: Her – track 09 on  Love Yourself: Her album

written by:  Suga, Slow Rabbit, RM, J-Hope

Korean Lyrics from Naver Music


The word “HER”, if you were to write it phonetically in Korean, woud be 허 or 헐–> BTS seems to have specifically chose it to be 허.

허, romanized, would be “heo” or pronounded “huh”.

“Her”, of course, is a female pronoun and can indicate a girl that BTS is singing to.  They seem to use this non-specific pronoun intentionally, so that this may work as a love song or a fan song or a song to a non-specific person, all at the same time.

The word 허, when written in Korean, means a weakness/an empty spot in otherwise a strong person or thing.  It’s from the Chinese character 虛.    I’m not knowledgeable in Chinese and often words with Chinese origins have changed over years of use in Korea, so I’m not sure what this character means exactly in Chinese.

In Korea, the character currently means a weakness, but not necessarily in a bad way.  It doesn’t mean that the person is weak – it often means a weak tender spot deep inside a person (who may still be strong)… Something like an area of vulnerability that people hide/protect…

People will often say in Korea that if you can get someone to share even their 허점 (area of 허, vulnerable aspect deep inside them), it makes your understanding of that person deeper and the love more understanding.

I feel like this song is essentially BTS sharing their vulnerability with the listeners.


The world is a complex
We wus lookin’ for love

I was just like one of those people
Real love or whatnot, I didn’t even believe
But like habit I’d blab that I want to love
But I found myself
The whole new myself
I’m confused myself, what could be the real “me”?
Have I realized that I’m a book since I’ve met you?
Or is it that you’ve turned the pages of my book?
책 = book OR: fault/flaw/defect/imperfection
so also means:
Have I realized I’m the flaw since I’ve met you?
넘기다 = also means to “pass beyond” as well as “turn (a page)”
These two lines could also mean, “I’ve realized my faults, but you turned the pages of my book (made me go to the next chapter/mature in life),” or even “I’ve realized my faults, but you’ve passed beyond my faults.”
Damn
Either way, I want to be the best man for you
It’s probably natural, since you were my world itself
When you said that if you were to die, you’d die with me
I decided to to become a “me” that you want.
God I swore to myself.
“When you said that if you were to die, you’d die with me”
This line is not clear as subject/object are often not clear in Korean sentences.
Could also mean, If I’m gonna die, you said you’d die with me.”  (eg. If I’m feeling so bad that I wanna die, you told me you’d die with me too, so I couldn’t die)
Or less depressingly, could just mean that they would support each other until death (and I’ve seen a lot of fans write online that they want to support BTS until they’re old, as kind of life companions walking the same paths of life, even when their fame fades)
So many complex
But I’m lookin’ for love
I’m okay with a fake “me”, if you’re willing to embrace it
Because you’re my beginning and the end 
Please be the one to end me
This line, while sounding slightly morbid… sounds more like.. just asking to be together until the end. That is, it doesn’t sound like BTS asking for an end. It’s more like, if there is an end, I would rather it be by your hands (rather than haters, antis, etc?).
Update:  “Please be the one to end me” could refer to the book metaphor as well.  “you’re the one who turned my page, so please finish me as well.” (Thanks to T in comments for this!  ^^)  I guess it’s, “please be the one to write the ending to the book that is the story of my life”

 

The answer to
All my wonder
I call you her, her
Cuz you’re my tear, tear

The answer to
All my wonder
I call you her, her
Cuz you’re my tear, tear

The lyrics are interesting if you replace “her” with “the vulnerable area deep in my heart”

 

 

 

The following part with Suga uses 당신as the word that means “you”.
This is a very formal word for “you” as well as gender non-specific.

It’s generally used with spouses that speak formal speech with each other, which is not as common these days. (almost like spouses calling each other “sir” and “ma’am”).  It can also be used in non-romantic relationship to refer respectfully to older people.  It’s not commonly used with girlfriends/boyfriends (almost too formal)….  I guess it may be used between lovers if they’re kind of older adults.
K-Army found this term very… dreamy? romantic?  A relationship that starts off with formality and respect as basis…. whether it’s friendship or romance…
Update:  It is similar to “anata” in Japanese (thank you molly in comments ^^)
Perhaps I might be your truth or lies
Perhaps your love or hatred
Perhaps your enemy or friend
Your heaven or hell, at times your pride and humiliation
I wouldn’t ever take off my mask
Literally, “I can’t ever take off the mask”, but in Korean, it sounds like it’s his choice to never be able to take off the mask instead of being forced.
Because “me” behind this mask is not the kid that you know
Today again, make up to wake up
And dress up to mask on.
possible references to RM’s “Unpack Your Bags” which has lyrics:
“Lovers go from break ups to make ups
I go from wake ups to make-ups.”
To become the “me” that you love
To become the kid that you love
I quitted XX too
I think Suga said the XX is stand in for non-specific thing that anyone may change/quit for a loved one, not because they do it for themselves, but just to please that other person. (I think it was at an interview, but not sure.. still looking for the source)
Just for you
The clothes I hate, and the excessive make up too
Your smiles and happiness are how my happiness is measured
Would a “me” like this still deserve to receive your love?
I always try hard to be your best

I hope you don’t know this side of me.
This last line sounds kind of playful…  in English, it would be like saying, “if you notice this side of me, could you just pretend you didn’t see that?”

 

 

The answer to
All my wonder
I call you her, her
Cuz you’re my tear, tear

The answer to
All my wonder
I call you her, her
Cuz you’re my tear, tear

 

Like always, mask on
Her that greets me with cheers
A star just for you, shining without issues
But when it needs to shine the most, I’m “mask off”
I guess this line means when it’s actually dark, and the light of the star could be most useful, he takes the mask off and stop shining.. to enjoy the darkness.
Lost star,
I put down my burdens
Enjoy the darkness
Since there are no deadly burning spotlight, ye
Just any way my heart leads me
The way my feelings lead me, the way nobody holds onto me
Tick tock the dark is over
Again, to become the best for you
I hold onto myself
“나를 붙잡다” –  hold onto myself, often means to “hold onto my willpower/hold onto my senses/control, etc.”
Love makes a person crazy
Yes, this is resolution from a lunatic
I input the values into the formula that fits me the most
To you, who is my everything
I offer the answer I get.
And you, who gives love for this
And me, who is led to try hard with this (love)
This night that finds new meaning and light from your existance
I know that even if the darkness ends
You’re my morning
You woke me up.
J-Hope! Thank you for the math related line.  I love math related lines in BTS lyrics. :D

 

The answer to
All my wonder
I call you her, her
Cuz you’re my tear, tear

The answer to
All my wonder
I call you her, her
Cuz you’re my tear, tear

13 thoughts on “BTS – Her (English translation and Ramblings)

  1. I really appreciate your translations and ramblings. They help me understand the lyrics to a deeper level. Thank you for doing this! I’m Chinese, and in Chinese, the character “虚“ has several meanings. The first is “empty”, and it’s mostly used in this context: At the edge of a cliff, there is a pile of branches. It looks solid, but if you step on it, you would fall right through. Your friend is about to step on the branches, so you say, ” Hey, don’t step on that, it’s ‘虚的’!” (“的” is added to the end of a some characters to make it work as an adjective in some sentences. I really don’t know how to explain it Chinese is random and hard I’M SORRY) The second meaning is “not real” or “fake”, and it’s mostly used in the context of an image or accomplishments. Like say a person is applauded for accomplishing this and that, but they didn’t actually do those things, then you’d say that it’s a “虚 name”, as in they made a name for themself, but it’s fake. The third meaning is “uneasy” or “guilty” (?), in the context of, you stole something, and now you feal “虚” in your heart. The fourth meaning is probably the closest to the Korean meaning of the character, and it’s “weak”. But unlike the Korean meaning, it’s mostly used in terms of health, like saying someone has a weak body.
    Sorry for this pretty much unnecessary explanation skjdsljk
    Thank you again and bye~ <3

  2. Your translations are really helpful, thanks for making these! In Suga’s verse you talk about his use of 당신 for “you”. I’m curious, in Western cultures, formality can also be an indication of distance in a relationship – you’re only formal with someone until your close/comfortable with them. I think I understand what you were saying about old-fashioned formality being romantic/dreamy (is “gentleman” somewhat close?), but is there any sense of formality = distance in Korea? Given that he talks about hiding his true self from them, could 당신 be a way of acknowledging that there’s something keeping them at a distance? Or is that just a Western thing?

    1. I think “gentleman” is somewhat close in terms of formality. It seems like a very gentlemanly type of speech.

      In terms of closeness…I think you can be formal and still be very close. For example, you can have be really close with your grandfather, with years of respect and memories built into the relationship, and still be very formal and respectful to him. While you can have a casual friend that you’re not as close with.

      “Her” sounds like it was written to the ARMYs, and BTS seems to have this slightly respectful relationship with the ARMYs… almost like companions that walked a hard path together, helping each other over the years…

  3. This, Sea, and the bonus skit really have some depressing stuff in them that is kind of painful for me. But when I think about it, aren’t they just saying what every idol/celebrity goes through but doesn’t say?? When I think about it like this, it makes me appreciate Bangtan even more. When it comes down to it, they talk about these things that are taboo in the idol world. It brings us closer to them, and gives us a deeper level of understanding. I think that’s why, even if Bangtan also wears masks and has to worry about image, we have such a strong connection as fans. I love that they talk about everything with ARMY, including their worries. I love Bangtan <3

  4. Hello! I just wanted to ask, is it possible that Namjoon’s line “Please be the one to end me” connects back to the previous book metaphor? Like, you’re the one who turned my page, so please finish me as well? Thank you!

  5. thank you, dear!

    it’s nice to see ur input! the math-related lyrics always make me think that bangtan “is a kid who did their best at school”. it’s make me smile ^^
    i also interested in “Dangsin”. from watching drama, music i found dangsin is a formal and dreamy word. but a twitter fmous told me that I wrong and it’s informal?!

    1. I think dangsin when spoken to strangers is rude but when it is spoken between couples it is a really mature and formal way of addressing.

      1. maybe it’s like “anata” in japanese. very formal and polite form to say “you”, But because it usually used by married couple, people feel weird when they called with “anata”.

  6. I love love your translations and ramblings. Thank you so much for this. I was waiting for this and sea, cos they are my favorites of the album.

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