Ireona

[79] Ireona. Matt Lemon Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Mural at Kim Kwang Seok Road (김광석길). Daegu, South Korea. © Matt Lemon Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Kim Kwang Seok Road

Messages to Kim Kwang Seok. Matt Lemon Photography. All Rights Reserved.

If you stroll around Daegu’s Bangcheon Market, you will hear faint music coming from a small tucked away alley. Follow the music and you will come across Kim Kwang Seok Road, a lengthy alleyway that displays several murals, paintings, and other small art works upon its walls, dedicated to the late South Korean folk song singer Kim Kwang Seok (January 22, 1964 – January 6, 1996). He quickly became popular during the late 80s and early 90s. He was mostly loved by the younger generations at the time for his soulful vocals and contemplative lyrics that deeply reflected the transition of social, political, and economic issues within South Korea. His 4th studio album, released in 1994, was monumental not only in his career but also in the history of Korean popular music. He kept on singing at concerts, marking his thousandth concert in August 1995. In the same year he made concert tour around the country, which extended abroad to hold concerts at University of Pennsylvania and Merkin Concert Hall in Manhattan. He preferred small concert halls to be in closer contact with audiences, setting a trend of concert in small theatres around Daehangno in Seoul, a Korean equivalent of Broadway. From the perspective of history of Korean popular music, he is the direct descendent as well as the successor of Korean topical folk rock, which was initiated in early 1970s under the harsh rule of the dictator Park Chung Hee, who was in power from 1961 to 1979. However, even though Kim Kwang Seok’s music was clearly rooted in social issues in his early years of career, he also empathized with sorrow and frustration of individuals, which had been downplayed in the struggle for democracy. Music critic Lee Joo Yup once wrote that his songs portrayed individuals who are constantly hovering around the border of pessimism and optimism, but sublimated the self-consciousness that never give up the strain of facing the reality. Sadly, in 1996, Kim Kwang Seok committed suicide which rang tragic throughout the country. Events and projects have been organised in commemoration of Kim Kwang Seok ever since his death. A London-based blogger wrote this about Kim Kwang Seok: “The emotion in his songs needs no translating and it is very easy to see why he is still so popular and loved in Korea.” I very much agree. Actually, whenever I listen to his music, I can’t help but crying at some point. Kim Kwang Seok will remain popular forever. As you can see, even kids love his music and leave messages for him.

일어나

검은 밤의 가운데 서있어
한치 앞도 보이질 않아
어디로 가야 하나 어디에 있을까
둘러 봐도 소용없었지
인생이란 강물 위를 끝없이
부초처럼 떠다니다가
어느 고요한 호수가에 닿으면
물과 함께 썩어가겠지

일어나 일어나
다시 한번 해보는 거야
일어나 일어나
봄의 새싹들처럼

끝이 없는 말들 속에
나와 너는 지쳐가고
또 다른 행동으로 또 다른 말들로
스스로를 안심시키지
인정함이 많을수록 새로움은
점점 더 멀어지고
그저 왔다갔다 시계추와 같이
매일 매일 흔들리겠지

일어나 일어나
다시 한번 해보는 거야
일어나 일어나
봄의 새싹들처럼

가볍게 산다는 건 결국은
스스로를 얽어매고
세상이 외면해도 나는 어차피
살아 살아 있는 걸
아름다운 꽃일수록 빨리 시들어 가고
햇살이 비치면 투명하던 이슬도
한순간에 말라 버리지

일어나 일어나
다시 한번 해보는 거야
일어나 일어나
봄의 새싹들처럼

Ireona

Geomeun bamui gaunde seoisseo
Hanchi apdo bo ijil anha
Eodiro gaya hana eodie isseulkka
Dulleobwado soyong, eopseotji
Insaengiran gangmul wireul tteut eopsi
Bu chocheoreom tteodanidaga
Eoneu goyohan hosu ga ae daheumyeon
Mulgwa hamkke sseogeo gagetji

Ireona, ireona
Dasi han beon haeboneun geoya
Ireona, ireona
Bomui saessakdeulcheoreom

KKeuchi eopnneun maldeul soge
Nawa neoneun jichyeogago
TTo dareun haengdongeuro tto dareun maldeullo
Seuseuroreul ansim sikiji
Injeonghami manheulsurok saeroumeun
Jeomjeom deo meoreojigo
Geujeo watda gatda sigye chuwa gachi
Maeil maeil heundeulligetji

Ireona, ireona
Dasi han beon haeboneun geoya
Ireona, ireona
Bomui saessakdeulcheoreom

Gabyeopge sandaneun geon gyeolgugeun
seuseuroreul eolgeo maego
Sesangi oemyeonhaedo naneun eochapi
Sara, sara itneun geol
Areumdaun kkochilsurok bballi sideureo gago
Haessari bichimyeon tumyeonghadeon iseuldo
Han sungane mallabeoriji

Ireona, ireona
Dasi han beon haeboneun geoya
Ireona, ireona
Bomui saessakdeulcheoreom

Romanisation by Double8

Stand up

During the middle of the dark night i’m just standing.
I can’t even see in front of me
Where i should go, where would it be
Even if I look around me, it’s no use.
In the river waters that is life, endlessly
As I float around like the floating plants*
And when I touch some peaceful lake shore
I will probably rot with the water.

Stand up, stand up
We’re going to try again once more
Stand up, stand up
Like spring’s new sprouts

Between the endless words
Me and you are getting weary
With another kind of action, with another kind of word
We console ourselves
The more acknowledgement, the novelty
Gets further and further away
Just going back and forth like a pendulum
It will probably falter** every day

Stand up, stand up
We’re going to try once more
Stand up, stand up
Like spring’s new sprouts

Living life lightly is eventually
Binding yourself up
Even if the world ignores me, i will have to
Live, be living
As beautiful as the flower is, it wilts all the more faster
Even the dew drops that used to be clear when the sunlight shone on it
It dries up in a moment

Stand up, stand up
We’re going to try once more
Stand up, stand up
Like spring’s new sprouts

*another translation is ‘mulch’; basically the plant matter floating on the water surface
**this verb can also mean ‘shake’

Translation by Miss Tell It To Me

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