BTS – DDAENG (English Translation and Ramblings)

땡 (DDAENG) – RM, SUGA, J-HOPE

Korean lyrics from BTS blog

Produced by SUGA, J.Pearl
(SUGA, J.Pearl, RM, j-hope)

Keyboard – J.Pearl
Synthesizer – J.Pearl
Additional Production – Supreme Boi
Recording Engineers:
– SUGA @ Genius Lab
– RM @ Mon Studio
– j-hope @ Hope World
Mix Engineer – Yang Ga @ Big Hit Studio
Mastering Engineer – Yang Ga @ Big Hit Studio

In addition to being a gift song for antis/haters, this song seems to be for the 어그로 (aggro?- from aggravation)… which is what they call internet trolls in Korea.    BTS used to have lots of haters who would diligently spread hate hashtags/spread false rumors to public and reporters, etc.  But they also have a lot of trolls who say things like, “BB200 is not important!  We’ll acknowledge BTS once they get no. 1 on Hot 100.”  Acknowledge BTS for what, I’m not sure… for success?  If they claim that BTS is not successful, that’s not just dissing BTS – they’re also dissing all the other Korean acts who didn’t succeed as much.

It does seem like being  어그로/troll is the trend rather than to be a hater/anti nowadays, since BigHit said they will start suing for defamation.  Of course, either way, they’re just wasting their own lives whether they’re trolls or haters.


38ddaeng  <———38 ddaeng hand

It’s been really busy at work recently, so when I first listened to this song, my brain just…fried.   Why?!! Why so complicated, BTS??!!

1.

18, 13, 38 ddaeng.
From the cards “hwatoo (name of card deck)”…which has a game named “섰다/섯다/seotda”. This game is specifically designed for gambling.

38 ddaeng is the highest hand you can get.  Nothing wins against this hand.  13 ddaeng and 18 ddaeng are the 2nd highest cards, although I believe there are wild-card hands that can beat these.

The song also mentions 끗/kkeut.  These are the low hands.  If this was poker, these would be trying to see who has the high card in people who failed to even get a pair.

끗/kkeut is also homonym of 끝, which means “the end.”   This is kind of ironic, because there is a Korean phrase “인생 종 치다/your life has rung the bell”…which means your life is over/ruined.

Which leads to the next meaning of….

2. 

Ddaeng as sound of bell ringing.

The Pavolonian response of a Korean hearing “ddaeng” would be to think of this short kids’ song, titled “the school bell goes ddaeng ddaeng ddaeng.”

The lyrics are:

The school bell is ringing ddaeng ddaeng ddaeng, let’s gather around.
The teacher is waiting for us. 

Not surprising that J-Hope used school imagery in his part..

3. 

Ddaeng is also the sound of xylophone sound when you get something wrong.

You can say “ddaeng~!!!” instead of “wrong~!!!” …. as opposed to “ding-dong/ding-dong-daeng” if you get something right.

4.

Freeze-ddaeng

It’s a word they use in tag game called “ice/freeze – ddaeng.”   In this game, you can say “freeze” which protects from being tagged by “it”.  However, doing this leaves you frozen and unable to move, until someone “ddaeng” you.  If everyone ends up freezing, the new “it” is picked out from the people who froze themselves.

BTS plays this game with zombies during the Run BTS! Ep 24. 

5.

And…there are a bunch of other minor word plays.
– Ddaeng as description of swollen face – usually uses the term ddaeng ddaeng/tang tang.
– “Thang (thing)” written phonetically in Korean would be 땡(ddaeng).
– Play on the English word “dang”

Sigh…. I’m sure that’s enough rambling to start off with.  Let’s actually get started on the song.


I’m gonna have to write meaning of certain words mixed with the lyrics.  I’ll put these little explanations (in brackets in this colour)


18 13 38 ddaeng (ddaeng cards)
U wrong me right, look closely, ddaeng
either look closely but still wrong, or look closely at my ddaeng cards.
Ring the school bell, brr brr, ddaeng (bell sound)
Hey you, this turn at life is fail, you’re ddaeng (finished/wrong)
The wording, “this turn at life is fail” is commonly used in Korea.  Based on the old belief that people went through various reincarnations (probably originating from Buddhism).  Sometimes see characters in fiction being reincarnated as something like a snail, saying this line.  Ie.  This life is useless beyond hope of repair.

The following is J-Hope being sarcastic about the things that haters say:
Hip-hop?  ddaeng (wrong)
Rap style? ddaeng
Just rapper, ddaeng
Bangtan = ddaeng (wrong/finished)

But reality, bang
Worldwide, bang
On the charts, bang bang, Ddaeng (dang/ddaeng cards)
Got money, woo
AP, woo
AP apparently means Audemars Piquet watch, usually $50-100 000
A nice home, woo
Someone’s dream life, woo
How bout you? uh
I like you! uh
This success, uh
Thanks to you, uh.

Below, 얘 can be “yeah” written phonetically in Korean.  However, it can also be an informal “hey kid.”  This is a very informal term, only to be used when talking to little kids. Even using it with peers would be considered semi-rude unless you were very close.

Isn’t it funny, Isn’t it funny, yeah? 
OR:  Isn’t it funny, Isn’t it funny, hey kid?
all the “yeah” can be replaced with “hey kid”
Don’t you feel it’s ridiculous/baffling, yeah?
Honestly, why are they the ones, yeah
To have so much hype, yeah.
Think calmly, yeah
Because there’s a lot of time, yeah
This is homework, homework, yeah
If you can’t solve it, your problem is, ddaeng
(wrong)

Updated this section/edited translation a bit:
Regarding the lines:  Don’t you feel it’s ridiculous/baffling, yeah?/Honestly, why are they the the ones, yeah/To have so much hype, yeah. The word “Hype” used here is almost like “over-hype/much ado about nothing/over-reacting”.

This reminds me of all the Korean media articles after BBMA 2017 when they were very confused why BTS was popular – and a lot of these articles were totally off the mark.  With a lot of articles stating BTS only got popular because they posted often on twitter.   As if good music wasn’t important…
Also, could be read as inviting the trolls to figure out the question of why there is so much hype about BTS.
Because subject/object is not clear in these lines, could also be read as “Why are they (the haters/trolls) the ones to have so much over-activity?” … like, isn’t it ridiculous  that they are so worked up about BTS when BTS are just doing their thing and being successful?

18 13 38 ddaeng 
U wrong me right, look closely, ddaeng
Ring the school bell, brr brr, ddaeng
Hey you, this turn at life is fail, you’re ddaeng 

18 13 38 ddaeng 
U wrong me right, look closely, ddaeng
Wait, hold on, freeze, ddaeng (the game)
Hey you, this turn at life is fail, you’re ddaeng

Ddaeng.
Mmmm…   In my opinion, you guys are ddaeng.(wrong/finished)
We’re all ddaeng (ddaeng hands)
Regardless of whose high card is the highest (uses the “kkeut” hand term)
I’m ddaeng (ddaeng hands), don’t care at all.
Hunnit bae hunnit bar hunnit bbae hunnit bae ddaeng.
“bbae (빼)” means, “take out.”
Hip-hop slang for US dollar in Korean song using gambling metaphors..and of course, Suga has to sneak in a “take out a hunnit” among the “hunnit bae”s.
This song is shit, bae
I’m sure your tummy will hurt (from jealousy), but bae
this line starts with a Korean word that sounds like “bae”
What you claimed is all correct, bae.
We’re totally failing
Billboard is thanks to you, bae
There’s nobody above us
Because we’re totally failing, thanks
Thanks, thanks, thanks
Thanks for looking down on us all this time
Thanks to you, stadiums, dome, Billboard
Thanks to many, we ended up getting so much
My friends who are with small companies
I hope you guys will soon become the large corporations
These two lines about wishing friends becoming large corporations are not being sarcastic – it’s wishing those who are from small companies to become big as well.
We’ll continue to keep failing like (they) wish
So keep worrying about us.
kkeut
the low hand (spelled this way/끗), which can also mean “the end/끝”
–> keep worrying about us, you low hands OR keep worrying about us – the end.

18 13 38 ddaeng 
U wrong me right, look closely, ddaeng
Ring the school bell, brr brr, ddaeng
Hey you, this turn at life is fail, you’re ddaeng 

18 13 38 ddaeng 
U wrong me right, look closely, ddaeng
Wait, hold on, freeze, ddaeng
Hey you, this turn at life is fail, you’re ddaeng

Cashier calculating sound, ddaeng (bell)
I liked it as a child, freeze-ddaeng
(game)
I’m ding-dong
(the sound of correct answer), you’re ddaeng (wrong)
You’re 7 kkeut
(7 high hand), I’m ddaeng (ddaeng hand)
The face in the morning after eating ramyeon at night, ddaeng
(swollen)
“Ddaeng” (or sometimes “tang”) is a descriptive sound for swelling, kind of like “bouncy”.  
The high salt content of ramyeon makes your face unhealthily puffy, which is considered unattractive in Korea (unless you’re JK eating 6 of them in one sitting)
Losers, do your thang 
“Do your thang” is written phonetically in Korean which makes this line sound cute/silly, and lets him write “thang” as “땡/ddaeng”—> Losers, do your ddaeng/Losers, do your being wrong. 
Also, lets it rhyme well with the next line:
Look at me, I’m your errthang
You’re dope? Cool?  Damned ridiculous..
Uses 얼탱(ul-tang), which  is slang for “ridiculous/baffling”. Written in Korean, it also sounds very much like “errthang” in previous line (ul = err in Korean).
얼 (ul) is the first character in 얼굴(face), which is commonly used to mean “face” when shortening phrases into slangs in Korea.
“Tang” is the other variation of “ddaeng”, to describe swollen face.
–> You’re dope?  Cool?  Damned swollen face.. (eg. not cool)
Because I’m so bewildered, if I end up s-s-stuttering
I hope you’ll forgive me, I’m a bit lacking in my a-ability to converse
But I’m still trying to say the r-right things, but my mouth keeps becoming c-c-crooked.
Because I feel so g-g-good, so good.
Based on the Korean saying “입이 비뚤어졌어도 말은 바로 해야지/even if your mouth is crooked, you should still say the right thing.”  Means:  Where the information comes out should not change what is the right information.  A different shaped mouth should not change the content of the information, and you should speak the truth and not blame the situation.
Here, RM is saying:    I’m trying to say the right thing, but my mouth keeps becoming crooked (implying he can’t keep himself from smirking) because I feels so good. 
Those rappers who don’t even have haters should try to shut up a bit

Where do you have your haters?
Wash your eyes and face and look at the mirror
There is your hater, living and breathing
We’d rather celebrate than be celebs
OR:  We celebrate more than celebs
Only accelerate, no break
Update based on discussion in comments:
Literally written as, “only accel (in Korean), no break (in English)” where “accel” means the accelerator of a car as well as accelerate.   Probably wordplay to mean both:  Only accelerator, no brake, as well as Only go accelerating forward without a break
Who are you to acknowledge me?

The frogs who live up to their names
To die in the well
I will sincerely pray
Ddaeng
“Frog in a well” in Korean saying, is someone who thinks he’s great, only because he doesn’t know about the big wide world.  In his little well, the frog thinks he’s the most powerful and doesn’t know how insignificant he is.
개구리/gae goorie/frog, also sounds like it means 개/dog/damned + 구리다/shitty/worthless.
So could mean:
The damned worthless shits who live up to their names,
To die trapped in their little world, not knowing how insignificant they are,
I will sincerely pray
Ddaeng 

18 13 38 ddaeng 
U wrong me right, look closely, ddaeng
Ring the school bell, brr brr, ddaeng
Hey you, this turn at life is fail, you’re ddaeng 

18 13 38 ddaeng 
U wrong me right, look closely, ddaeng
Wait, hold on, freeze, ddaeng
Hey you, this turn at life is fail, you’re ddaeng

29 thoughts on “BTS – DDAENG (English Translation and Ramblings)

  1. Hi just wanted to say that I love your BTS breakdowns & your insights. Usually I just read and leave but I came on today specifically to ask are you connected to DKDKTV Youtube ?, because their recent breakdown also mentions your points, so curious 😊✌

  2. It’s been years and I always come back to you for translations! The best as always! No one does it the way you do, explaining all the references and spin on words BTS write into their lyrics. If it weren’t for your hard work I wouldn’t be able to respect BTS as much as I do because I wouldn’t have understood their lyrics to this depth. I respect and appreciate you spending your time and effort on this so much! Thanks again!

  3. Love your translation! Thank you! The only thing I noticed was “AP” would stand for Associated Press as in worldwide news coverage.

  4. Thank you so much for such an intelligent, detailed and thorough analysis on the song that I think is stumping international ARMY the most!

  5. I was waiting for you to post this since the song came out, thanks for being so fast!! I knew you’d be able to translate it well and help me understand all the word play (SO MUCH WORDPLAY @_@ somehow it’s harder to understand while learning basic korean… T_T)

  6. I was wondering if there’s a particular reason J-Hope uses “bang” in his verse to contrast “ddaeng” in terms of the meaning of the song beyond rhyme scheme convenience? Like is there a connotation of bang in Korean that it means something is correct, since he uses it to separate that verse of what the reality of bts is from the part that is what haters are incorrectly saying about bts, or could it just be that it’s similar to “bangtan?” Kind of like how I always assumed the “bang bang” parts of We Are Bulletproof pt.2 and in cypher 4 was because the sound effect is associated with bullets, (at least I know it is in english)?

    1. Hi~ idk about the Korean perspective, but the way I interpreted it as English slang is the usage of “bang” like “doing well”. It’s not used a lot?? but a phrase like “banging at the top of the charts” would make a lot of sense so that’s how I heard it.

  7. I’ve only just found your blog, but let me be really upfront with you. Thank you, from the bottom of my BTS-loving heart. Your insight is priceless for us iArmy, and I am super grateful to you for all the time and effort you put into these lyrics translations and ‘ramblings’! 정말 감사합니다!

  8. Wow! You’re ASTOUNDING!!!
    This is such a clever and well written analysis of the song.
    I was nowhere near understanding. Haha! I thought Suga was saying “honey bear, honey bear, honey bear” picturing Winnie the Pooh in my head.
    THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR TIME AND EFFORT 💟

  9. I really enjoyed so much. You are brilliant and so so so deep! Thank you. Would you mind if I ask you to add some facts (I found) about the lyrics “This song is shit, bae”? Ddong in Korean is shit but it can also mean odong card (11th card) in hwatoo. Dong becomes ddong when it is pronounced strongly. In Ddong card, oriental phoenix (legendary bird) and odong tree (royal foxlgove tree) are depicted. The oriental phoenix lives in odong tree. So, it can mean their music is a legend. “This song is ddong, bae” can mean “This song is shit” for haters but “This song is a legend” in a different layer.

  10. can you please explain how that whole “small companies” thing could or could not be perceived as sarcastic, I have heard both ways and now am thoroughly confused. Thank you for translating this! I was hoping you would!

    1. The “small companies” is kind of like… after talking to the haters, as a side note, saying, “you guys from small companies, I hope you’ll get big too.” The large corporations don’t have as much negative connotations in the word itself in Korea as it probably does in English (there is a bit of negative connotation, balanced with some awe re: success/power).

      I’ve read a lot of reviews of this song by K-Army in Korea too, as well as non-BTS fans in Korea, and I don’t think any of them thought this was sarcastic. There were a lot of comments from fans of other idols belonging to small companies saying they were warmed by his words, and felt encouraged.

      However, I can see where the confusion is when you translate it into English. Korean has a lot less clear subject/object in their prose, and they tend to change point of view much more informally compared to English. Even reading fiction, there are these wild changes of who’s talking and who’s being talked to. Once I read an Korean online novel, translated into English and I was like…wow… this sounds really disorganized and badly written when translated directly into English.

      1. Thankyou so much, the one who tell us yoongi being sarcastic toward his friend actually also a korean translator army… so i kinda confused, why she said so proudly “this is diss line, yall i speak fluently both english and korean so i know!” She said. But i believe it was a misintrepreted line by her, thankyou for explaining.
        This make me happy.

        1. I’m not a native Korean, nor do I speak Korean fluently (although I’m studying very hard!)… But, in an analysis I saw on Twitter (https://twitter.com/lyrics_velvet/status/1007211009457598464), the translator said there are two possible meanings–and I think it’s both. BTS’s lyricists are well-known to make liberal use of double+ meanings of their chosen words.

          I see no reason they wouldn’t happily diss the big companies (now referred to as ‘small companies’ because BigHit is now doing so much better than them) for being snobs, and simultaneously truly encourage small, independent companies to keep fighting for their dreams, like BigHit did. If that makes sense.

          I can’t express how I feel about BTS. People who aren’t fans have to discover the wonder on their own–it can’t be explained in a way that will be meaningful. I’m ARMY for life, though. See you all in our galaxy. <3

  11. Wooooow this has so many more layers (and meanings of ddaeng) than I saw from other translations, and I’m kind of blown away! There are too many things to mention them all but at least one bit from each verse. Hobi’s Bangtan=ddaeng bit makes so much more sense as sarcasm. Wow sassy. And I didn’t know Yoongi wasn’t being sarcastic about the small company part that’s interesting. And the extra meaning of the word for frog is so savage!! I swear my favorite thing about their rap is learning about the different idioms and slang. Also I’m glad that english “dang” seems to have made an appearence as well. Thank you so much for this!!

  12. “Only accelerate, no break” – I don’t know Korean, so I have no idea, but is it possible this is “Only accelerate, no brake” as in driving a car?

    1. “No break” part was written in English on their blog. It could be an honest mistake (like that “bar” instead of “bae” in the hunnit bae line) or intended as they take less “breaks” between their comebacks and its a homonym of “brake” (that’s just my opinion though)

      1. The accelerate was written as “accel”, which is how they call accelerate/accelerator as pertaining to the car in Korea…so the accel part is car related. Break may be a typo on their blog, or it could be they have accelerator/accelerate, without having breaks, just like a car without brakes as a wordplay.

        1. And, I do think that they meant both ‘brake’ and ‘break’. But, because that part is in English, he may have thought, “I’ll put in ‘break,’ so they know I meant to include that meaning, along with the implied homonym of ‘brake’ from the ‘acceleration’ reference.” Maybe! That’s my headcanon~\

  13. Aaah finally. I was waiting for this. Thank you so much. And there were a lot of different interpretations about Suga wishing small company friends becoming large corporations . I only trust you and now that you’ve said it’s not meant as sarcasm, I can finally rest my confused soul.

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