RM (BTS) – Tokyo + Seoul (English Translation + Ramblings)

 

mono.
Album Produced by RM
Co-produced by Pdogg, Hiss noise
ALL songs Composed & Lyrics by RM
ALL songs Rap & Vocal Arrangement – RM
ALL songs Recording Engineer – RM @ RKive
Mastering Engineer – Randy Merrill @ Sterling Sound, New York, USA


I’m sure he’s trying to torture me by not including the formal lyrics, even in Korean.  I read a bunch of different versions of Korean lyrics on Korean blogs/forums, but  still not sure I have it correct.  Will just try my best…

The whole album feels like one continuous long song with different phases, rather than a collection of songs.  This makes me feel like I need to translate the songs in the order that the album is created, rather than to pick out just a few I like here and there.

I will try to work on it slowly..


The studio @RKive (obviously wordplay on “archive”) reminds me of RM’s poem in the last episode of BTS Run (season 2).  His “기억을 ㄱ 한다/remember the ‘ㄱ’/memories” and his studio is the archive where he stores these memories in the form of songs.

I’m assuming the word “mono” could mean “solo work” as well as “monochromatic.”  The whole album feels very grey like a rainy day.  The grey world at times seem like a negative thing in this album, but considering how RM has been known to enjoy walking around in the rain, he seems to have a love-hate relationship with the grey world.

 

Track 01. Tokyo almost seems to flow into Track 02. Seoul, so I’ll put both in this post.


 

 

01.  Tokyo. 
Produced by Supreme Boi  (Supreme Boi, RM)

This song is in  English, but why do I feel like I still need to ramble on about it?

Of note, Tokyo written in Kanji (the Chinese characters), is read as “Dongkyeong” in Korean.  “Dongkyeong” is a homonym of a Korean word that means “longing from afar”, which goes well with this song where RM is feeling homesick in a foreign city.

 

Wake up in Tokyo, feel like a torso
I know it’s time to go. 
“torso”….  is used in Korea to mean the body sculptures in art.
I guess this is not a common word they teach in English class, so this selected niche meaning is how this word is widely known in Korea.
You can read this line to mean:
Wake up in Tokyo, feel stiff like a sculpture
I know it’s time to go. 
torso

I see Pinocchio wearing a poncho
That’s me some time ago.
Pinocchio give me feeling of:  liar/puppet/child
Poncho is something you can wear to protect yourself from the rain.
The lines give me feeling of a child who couldn’t be honest, who could not accept the grey rain and tried to protect himself from the rain in past.

Do I miss myself? 
Do I miss your face?
I don’t know, I don’t know

Life is a word
That sometimes you cannot say
And ash is the thing 
That someday we all should be. 
I think RM said something about there being ashes associated with performance, in Burn The Stage.  I can’t remember exactly which episode – if anyone knows, please tell me.

When tomorrow comes, 
How different it’s gonna be?
Why do love and hate sound just the same to me? 
the love and hate seem to continue on in the song “Seoul”

I can’t sleep, homesick, babe.
I just wanna stay right next to you

If I could choose my dream
I just wanna stay right next to you.

 


 

02.  Seoul. 
Music Video

Produced by HONNE (HONNE, RM)

He longed for home in his homesickness in the song Tokyo, but his love of his home city is also kind of grey.  In this grey city with lots of cold concrete, people ironically live their lives very fiercely.

I open my eyes from the cold dawn air, without anyone noticing.
This city’s harmony, I’m so familiar of it.
My days of youth seem so remote 
And though it’s only full of buildings and cars
This place here is now my home
Seoul, Seoul. 

Why are you pronounced similar to “soul”?
What kind of soul do you possess
to have something that ties me to you like this?
Even though I don’t even have old nostalgic memories of you?
I guess Seoul is not RM’s childhood home town, but is now his home.

I’m now so tired of you
Your constant ash-grey expression
No, no, I’m afraid of myself
Because I’ve already become a part of you.
Ironically, in the last song of this album 07. Forever Rain, he says:  I want to live in the ash-grey world. 

If love and hate are the same words, I love you Seoul
If love and hate are the same words, I hate you Seoul
x2
Seoul

The bus where the scenery changes even if I stay still
And the buildings that seem similar but are slightly different
The fragrance of life, that may or may not seem nauseating
And the cold parks that pretend to be welcoming
dissing Seoul like a true Ilsan boy, like he did in Ma City where he said Ilsan is more cozy in its imbrace…although he’s now lived in Seoul for so long, it’s now his home…

The people who must always wander lost
And the Han River that holds too much “han” in its heart.
“Han” is a deep sorrow/anguish.  Han River that runs through the middle of Seoul has seen a lot of “han” of its people through history.  This part gives me a bit of chills as it reminds me that “Han River” is also a common place people commit suicide, and gives me the feeling that the river holds all the sorrows of these people in its embrace.
The swings that can’t see the sky on their own
Swings that can’t fly because kids have grown up? Or swings in the park that can’t see the sky because of all the buildings?
그네들 means swings, but also can mean “those people” (although this term feels kind of old/poetic to me rather than common modern Korean)
So this line can also translate to:
Those people that can’t see the sky on their own.

And the kids that are all grown up…
And me who’s a bit too late…
Friends easily tell me they’re gonna leave
I try to nod, but I can’t smile

 

I really don’t want to admit it
But I already love even your car pollution and the sick feeling it gives
I love the wet smell of Cheonggyecheon 
Cheonggyecheon is a creek with a park that connects to Han river.  The literal translation is “fishy” smell, but it’s also used to mean musty/wet smell.
I love the loneliness of Seonyudo
Seonyudo is a small island park in Han River.
Even the heavy sigh of the taxi driver who told me that it’s a nice place to live if you just have money.
I love y’all

 

If love and hate are the same words, I love you Seoul
If love and hate are the same words, I hate you Seoul
x4

I’m leavin’ you
I’m livin’ you

x4

Seoul

If love and hate are the same words, I love you Seoul
If love and hate are the same words, I hate you Seoul
x 4

Seoul, yeah

I love you Seoul, yeah
I hate you Seoul, yeah
I love you Seoul, yeah
I hate you Seoul

EDIT:  Lyrics (especially the English parts) corrected based on the lyric video they released.  :)    I have to go to work soon, so will real the comments later. Thank you for leaving comments!!

16 thoughts on “RM (BTS) – Tokyo + Seoul (English Translation + Ramblings)

  1. Hi, I am an army from Vietnam. I and other armies bias Namjoon, we are having a project for supporting Namjoon’s birthday and the 1st anniversary of mono. We are writing a book about him. We will sell it and all the profits we earn will be used for projects. Can we use your lyrics translations & ramblings of mono and translate them into Vietnamese for one of the part of this book? My team asked your permission for mixtape RM last year. We are really grateful if you allow us to do it again. Anyway, I love your translations so much. I hope you will reply me soon. Thank you a lot.

  2. I feel like I’m walking with him throughout the mono., but especially in Seoul, while he was reciting this poem. Maybe that’s why when he referred to Han River and then the swing, i could imagine empty swings in the park, no children using them.

    I always look forward to your ramblings. Thank you.

  3. I just find it kind of funny how the entire group did a song called “With Seoul” one of the lines that RM raps is “When late at night the silence of your sigh spreads throught the streets” yet here in the song Seoul, he says,”The city’s harmony, I’m so used to it.” and then, a few lines later in “With Seoul,” he raps, “I’ll be by your side forever”. Although “With Seoul” was most likely for a commercial and most likely has nothing to do with “Seoul” I think that the two songs sort of contrast with each other.

  4. it’s interesting to see even in his all english songs how he uses english in a unique way, like using the meaning of loan words like “torso”; he also loves to play with different pronunciations lately, including words that sound more similar with korean pronunciation than english (leavin’, livin’; tear, tear). It feels like things he’s using things he finds interesting as a LEARNER of english, and he puts them together in a unique way that a native speaker might not. Some might say it sounds a little unnatural but I feel like it’s a really unique perspective we can only get from a smart korean writer like Joon

  5. I saw someone mentioned that “torso” could also be a reference to Torso, a character in the anime Tokyo Ghoul.. I never watched the anime though. From wikia.com, the character is described as “deranged”, “violent” but “quite careless and easily scared” and “lonely”. Also this: “suffered from an inability to relate to others, finding it difficult to even think of them as people. He felt something was wrong with him and was desperate to fill that apparent void of emotions through the victims he searched for.”

    This COULD be a stretch but Namjoon does like watching animes too so it could be a possibility, in my opinion.
    What do you think?

    1. It’s could be bc the word somehow related to character Torso. From what i remember, Karao (aka Torso) mutilated women’s corpses to look like torsos due to his childhood.

  6. They put out an official lyric video today and in the bridge part that you were unsure about, RM is saying “I leavin’ you, I’m livin’ you”. I honestly was unsure about what he was saying also lol but it guess it’s meant to show the push and pull feeling he feels towards the city. Also the lyric video had him saying “I love you, Seoul,” but personally I like that it sounds ambiguous.

  7. Thank you for another great translation and interpretation! I rarely comment, but I always enjoy reading your posts.

    For the line “The swings that can’t see the sky on their own” I had another similar idea to your interpretations. I think this line could also refer to how a kid feels like they can touch the sky when they’re at the highest the swing will let them go. And maybe the swings can’t see the sky on their own because they need someone to show it to them or take them there. When I think of that, I get a sense of that sadness because there’s a possibility of seeing the sky, but since the kids have grown up or act grown up, the swings can’t see it.

    I now wonder if that is a metaphor for Seoul itself… Because a city needs to have people living in it to be a real city, just as swings need kids to play on them to fulfill their purpose. And in the next lines RM talks about how his friends say that they’ll be leaving… I don’t know, maybe it’s a stretch haha.

    Also, will you be updating this post now that the official lyrics are out in the official lyric video? If so, I hope I’ll be notified. I’m already subscribed to your blog but I’m not sure if I can get notifications for updates..

    1. I had the same thought about the swings. How a swing can’t move om it’s own and needs a child/someone to move it up high……

  8. Interesting, my first thought for the word torso was that it relates to having no head, legs and arms.
    Though I’m not sure how the metaphor work in that case, but havin no head and limbs sounds painful?
    Any idea?

    1. Yeah, as a native English speaker I thought that too. The idea of just being a torso seems to be one of not really doing anything, just existing uselessly, since the head, arms, and legs are what seem to be (superficially) the parts of the body that do the most. But if RM was also trying to convey that idea, he forgot one thing in the torso that’s vital (biologically and symbolically): the heart!

      1. Great that I’m not the only one who thought of that.
        Well, but by still having his heart he still can feel the pain about existing uselessly and actual suffer because of it, else he just would be just an empty shell like a robot or an object. As an human with heart he can actually feel unhappy about the situation he is in, but he can’t do anything about it. A object wouldn’t care.

  9. I’m not sure about whether he said it on an episode of the “Burn The Stage” or not but he did talk about ashes on their interview with ET for Tear album last May. Here it is,

    “When we burn something, we always have the ashes left… there’s always the ashes,” RM expressed. “I know some say it’s really hard to watch the pain, the sweat backstage. We wanted to share many more things, be really closer [to the fans].” 

  10. my first time hearing Seoul, I also thought of the same thing.. but one thing I noticed with Namjoon is his love for word play, so yeah, I think it’s supposed to sound like both, (so/Seoul) like what the previous commenter said. also, just an opinion, and i might be completely wrong since i haven’t researched about the full mixtape yet, just listened to the whole playlist twice today without looking for translations except for this one, but i feel like all his songs has this feeling of yearning for something simple.. like he’s happy and sad at the same time.. but his mixtape is really good especially when you go for walks alone… will definitely have this on my playlist… thanks again for your translations and musings! ^_^

  11. With the “I love so” or “I love you Seoul”, I think it’s supposed to sound like both, instead of one or the other.

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