BTS – Sea (English translation and Ramblings)

 

BTS – Sea (hidden track on Love Yourself: Her album CD)

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

 

Sorry this is really late!

 

I was hoping my physical copy would have lyrics to this song, but it did not.  I searched for Korean lyrics and there are multiple versions on-line with slight differences.

This is based on what I can hear.  However, as there are no official lyrics available, there may be some errors.

 

 

This song seems to use metaphors for:

sea = hope
desert = trials/despair

However, in typical BTS fashion, the metaphors are not simple.  Hope and despair are not mutually exclusive, and sea water can be destructive while desert can be beautiful.


 

 

Somehow somehow walked and reached the sea
At this sea, I look at the beach.
The countless sand grains and painfully harsh winds
I’m still seeing the desert.
I wanted to have the sea, so I wholly drank you in.
But the thirst is worse than before
Is this place I’ve reached truly the sea,
Or is it a blue desert?

Sea is metaphor for life and hope, but drinking sea water is often a desperate and self-destructive behavior:
According to Google search:
Human kidneys can only make urine that is less salty than salt water. Therefore, to get rid of all the excess salt taken in by drinking seawater, you have to urinate more water than you drank. Eventually, you die of dehydration even as you become thirstier.

I don’t know I don’t know
Whether I’m feeling the waves right now, yeah
I don’t know I don’t know
Whether I still running away from the sandstorms, yeah
I don’t know I don’t know
Is it the sea? The desert? Hope? Despair?
Real? Or Fake? Shit
I know I know. My trials now
I know I know. Will be overcome
I know I know,
I’m the one for you to rely on 
OR:  You’re the one for me to rely on 
OR:  I’m the one I am to rely on
내가 = I am (naega)
네가 = You are (nehga, often pronounced neega to make it sound a bit more different from “I am/naega“)
It’s very difficult to tell which is which in these sentences, which may possibly be intentional as all versions can make sense.  There is slight mumbling of words here, which may be just stylistic but I’ve read some K-Army write that it may be intentional to make the song have multiple meanings.
I think of it positively
I swallow dryly
“I swallow dryly” means “I feel anxious/nervous” – a commonly used phrase in Korea to express anxiety/nervousness.
Fight or flight response causes sympathetic nervous system response which causes dry mouth.
Even if I feel anxious, even if it’s the desert
that it’s the beautiful Namib Desert
It’s interesting that the origin of the name of Namib Desert means “vast place” like the sea, with sand seas.

desert_sea

 

Where there is hope, there are always trials
Where there is hope, there are always trials
Where there is hope, there are always trials
Where there is hope, there are always trials 

The word “trials” used here is the one used in “trials and tribulations” in the Bible…  meaning difficult times/hardship.

 

Update:  This line references Murakami (thanks rishamangetsu in comments!)

“Wherever there’s hope there’s a trial. You’re exactly right. Absolutely. Hope, however, is limited, and generally abstract, while there are countless trials, and they tend to be concrete. That is also something I had to learn on my own.”

― Haruki Murakami, 1Q84 BOOK 3

 

Where there is hope
You know you know
You know you know yeah yeah
Where there is hope
You know you know
You know you know yeah yeah

This place that I thought was the sea was ironically a desert
And my second name was an idol from a small agency with no connections
Frequently being cut out from broadcast
Chance to fill in for someone who didn’t show was our dream
Some said that we wouldn’t make it because we’re from a small company
I know I know, I know it too.
The days when seven of us tried to fall asleep in one room
And the faith before sleep that tomorrow would be different
were mirages of a desert
Able to see but unable to touch
I pray for survival in this endless desert
I pray that this is not reality
Finally, we caught up with the mirage and it became reality
The desert that we feared were filled with our blood, sweat and tears to become the sea.
But what are these fears among all this happiness?
We know too well that this place was really a desert.

Regarding term “blood, sweat and tears”, there was a similar term in Korean “blood and sweat/bloody sweat (피땀)” or “blood tears (피눈물)”.  피 땀 눈물 is a Korean translation of the English phrase “blood, sweat and tears” and used to not exist in Korean language prior to the BTS song… but they occasionally use it now since the “Blood Sweat and Tears” song came out.

 

I don’t want to cry
I don’t want to rest
No, how about resting just a little?
No no no
I don’t want to lose
This is really a desert
Then we’ll just have to run 
We’ll just have to cry more

I heard the last 2 lines as:
그럼 달려야지뭐
더 울어야지 뭐
which is how I translated this part.

I’ve also seen it interpreted as:
그럼다 알려줬네
Then you were told everything
더 오래하지뭐/더 우울해야지 뭐/더 해야지 뭐
We’ll just have to do it longer/We’ll just have to be more sad/We’ll just have to do more

They mumble a lot in these two lines so it’s difficult to tell.

 

Update:
Other interpretation as mentioned by grk637 in comments (BTS really makes us think too much!!  ^^)

S: 울고 싶지 않아, 쉬고 싶지 않아
JH: 아니 조금만 쉬면 어때 / 아니 조금 마시면 어때 (the sea water)
RM: 아니 아니 아니
S: 지고 싶지 않아, 원래 사막이 잖아
RM: 그럼 달래주면 (pacify the thirst?)
JH: 더 오래 하지 뭐

translating to:
S: I don’t want to cry, I don’t want to rest
JH: What’s wrong with a little rest?/ What’s wrong with a little drink? (the sea water)
RM: no, no, no
S: I don’t want to lose, it was originally a desert
RM: If you pacify it (“it,” being the thirst?)
JH: it’s just go longer, then

 

Where there is hope, there are always trials 
Where there is hope, there are always trials 
Where there is hope, there are always trials 
Where there is hope, there are always trials 

Where there is hope
You know you know
You know you know yeah yeah
Where there is hope
You know you know
You know you know yeah yeah

Ocean, desert, the world
Everything, the same thing,
Different name

I see ocean, l see desert
I see the world
Everything’s the same thing
With a different name
It’s life again

Where there is hope
You know you know
You know you know yeah yeah
Where there is hope
You know you know
You know you know yeah yeah

 

Where there is hope, there is always despair
Where there is hope, there is always despair
Where there is hope, there is always despair
Where there is hope, there is always despair

We have to despair, for all the trials
We have to despair, for all the trials

I think someone asked me what the last phrase means.
We have to despair, for all the trials

The Korean lyrics just say, “we have to despair, for all the trials.”  So… it’s not much clearer in Korean…

The phrase 우린 절망 해야해, is kind of “we’re forced to despair/we must despair/we need to despair/we have to despair”.

So they have to despair for the trials.

If the trials = desert, and hope = sea… Hmmm…   But the song seems to imply that the sea and the desert are actually the same.

So maybe it also means, “We must despair to have hope.”

 

I don’t know…  It probably has flexible meaning with numerous possible interpretation.

 

Regarding the Sea imagery, the same imagery shows up in other songs such as Best of MeI love this album because each song is a piece of art, but all the songs tie in together to form another larger piece of art, with progression of ideas as you listen to the songs in order.  (interpretation from 감자밭할매)

In Best of Me, 

다정한 파도고 싶었지만
니가 바다인 건 왜 몰랐을까

I wanted to be warm/supportive waves
But why hadn’t I realized that you’re the sea?

The song could be directed to loved one/fans.
BTS wanted to be a warm support (waves), but realized that the loved one/fans were actually even bigger then them (the sea) in their love and support back to BTS.

Since it is the sea that makes the waves, it is the love that BTS receives that creates BTS and the love that BTS can give out.

14 thoughts on “BTS – Sea (English translation and Ramblings)

  1. Thank you so much! Ur writing really help me understand BTS’ songs better. Yup BTS definitely makes ARMY think a lot…hehe…but that’s why we luv them.

  2. Thank you so much! Your writing really help me understand BTS’ songs better. Yup BTS definitely makes ARMY thinks a lot…but that’s why we love them

  3. Hi! Reading this has really helped me better understanding the meaning behind the lyrics, thank you so much. I also heard that Sea was supposed to be a follow up track to a hidden track in their first album, 2 Cool 4 Skool. It’s called “On The Start Line”, here’s a link to it https://genius.com/Bts-hidden-track-skit-on-the-start-line-annotated
    I was wondering if you knew anything more about how they’re connected? In this track as well, RM mentions the desert and ocean imagery and the lyrics of both hidden tracks are quite parallel to one another. Thank you!

  4. Just dropping by to let you know that I’ll be anticipating your ramblings and interpretation of the songs from the new album.
    Thank you in advance Ms. Muish.

  5. Thank you so much for your interpretation!
    Also, “Where there is hope, there are always trials” is a reference to this”

    “Wherever there’s hope there’s a trial. You’re exactly right. Absolutely. Hope, however, is limited, and generally abstract, while there are countless trials, and they tend to be concrete. That is also something I had to learn on my own.”

    ― Haruki Murakami, 1Q84 BOOK 3

  6. Than you for these!!
    “BTS wanted to be a warm support (waves), but realized that the loved one/fans were actually even bigger then them (the sea) in their love and support back to BTS.”
    This really hit me in the soft spot!! *sniff sniff*

  7. OMG I was waiting for this Mrs. muish! Thank you for taking time to translate. Sea really is a sad song for me and have been holding on to finally receiving my album before I heard the full song and I cried just by hearing it without translations now I can appreciate it even more when I read what the last part that Tae sang meant it gets even sadder :((

  8. Thank you for your translations and ramblings! Definitely one of the most thoughtful sources I’ve found.

    Adding to the discussion: I think the despair/hope dichotomy takes more meaning in light if RM’s acceptance speech from winning Artist of the Year at MAMA 2017. https://youtu.be/G-SXvYqzjKw

  9. Thank you for always enlightening fellow ARMY with your wonderful translations (plus extra cultural context) and interpretations! Regarding that dialogue bit after Suga’s verse, knowing them, I’m pretty sure it’s purposefully difficult to understand so that it could have multiple meanings. I’ve listened to this part many times and I think I hear another interpretation in RM and JH’s lines (RM’s last line is particularly hard to understand though):
    *excuse my poor Korean spelling skills…*

    S: 울고 싶지 않아, 쉬고 싶지 않아
    JH: 아니 조금만 쉬면 어때 / 아니 조금 마시면 어때 (the sea water)
    RM: 아니 아니 아니
    S: 지고 싶지 않아, 원래 사막이 잖아
    RM: 그럼 달래주면 (pacify the thirst?)
    JH: 더 오래 하지 뭐

    1. English translation for the other readers:
      S: I don’t want to cry, I don’t want to rest
      JH: What’s wrong with a little rest?/ What’s wrong with a little drink? (the sea water)
      RM: no, no, no
      S: I don’t want to lose, it was originally a desert
      RM: If you pacify it (“it,” being the thirst?)
      JH: it’s just go longer, then

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