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Mirror Mirror by 4Minute (포미닛): Lyrics, Translation, and Explanation

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(Source, all screenshots)

For many Korean girl groups, debuting a new song on a music program seems to follow a set script these days:

  • First, it will include some provocative lyrics, choreography, and/or outfits that deliberately push the envelope
  • Then, despite presumably knowing that well in advance, the producers of the program will still allow the song to be performed, only then to disassociate themselves from it and claim shock and surprise at the ensuing netizen reaction
  • Next, those songs will be will be banned from future broadcasts unless changes to the offending parts are made
  • Equally absurdly, the performers themselves or their entertainment companies will claim shock and surprise that people find them sexually suggestive at all
  • Finally, despite those protestations, the groups will have modified versions of the song available to be used suspiciously quickly

It’s really quite a farcical process, and very patronizing to viewers.

Nevertheless, while nobody emerges unblemished from all that, it’s the entertainment companies that I’m most critical of. For, rather than actually admitting to the sexuality in their groups’ performances, thereby placing the onus on the music program producers and public to explain just what is it that is so problematic about that exactly, instead they even force their own performers to be complicit in a long-held narrative of female virginity and innocence in K-pop.

Granted, they may lack the clout to challenge terrestrial broadcasters on that point, nor is there much evidence that they possess the feminist motivations to do so. However, even just for financial reasons one would expect more of a challenge to systematic double standards in the Korean music industry, for the various restrictions on girl group performances can often be quite costly.

(Source)

As for how that all recently played out with Mirror Mirror (거울아 거울아) by 4Minute (포미닛), see the links in the list above, while Mixtapes and Liner Notes has more on RaNia’s (라니아) performance of Dr. Feel Good (닥터 필 굿) specifically. Two of the three controversial songs that debuted on Music Bank on April the 8th (the other was Do You Know/아나요 by the Brave Girls/브레이브 걸스), unfortunately Mirror Mirror is the only one of them I like enough to listen to – yes, sans eye-candy – on my MP3 player!

Yes, however crass, it does indeed sound like Hyuna is saying “4 minute slut” at the beginning. As for the translation, the vocabulary and grammar were relatively easy for a change, and the song mercifully short and repetitive too. But some unclear breaks between sentences and strange word orders definitely complicated things:

Let’s go

4minutes left 4minutes left Ah! Ah!

4minutes left 4minutes left Ah! Ah!

대체 왜 그땐 날 거들떠 보지 않고

매일 날 그대만 바라보게 만들고

오늘은 좀더 예쁘게 나 나 나 날 (오늘도)

보여줘 너무 멋진 너 너 너 너 너에게

거울아 거울아 이 세상에 누가 제일 예쁘니?

거울아 거울아 이 세상에 내가 제일 예쁘니?

오늘만은 내가 제일 예쁘다고 말해줘 봐

Let’s go

4minutes left 4minutes left Ah! Ah!

4minutes left 4minutes left Ah! Ah!

Why on Earth didn’t you notice me back then?

Everyday, you made me gaze only at you

Today, show me me me me a little more prettily  (today too)

To very cool you you you you

Hey Mirror, hey Mirror, who is the prettiest in the world?

Hey Mirror, hey Mirror, who is the prettiest in the world?

Just for today, please try saying I’m the prettiest

Here, “대체” is short for “도대체” (on Earth), and a new one for me was “거들떠보다” (not even notice/look). Otherwise:

  • the “바라보게 만들다” in line 4 is a long causative, which there’s a lot of in this song (see p. 368 of Korean Grammar for International Learners [KGIL] for more information)
  • See Seamus Walsh’s comment here for more on the “니” ending in lines 7 and 8
  • And of course the last line is some simple indirect speech. Although it’s awkward in English, I include a “try” in it (and similar sentences in later verses) because technically, “보다” added to a verb stem does indeed mean “try to do [the verb]“

All basic stuff by this, my twelfth song translation for the blog. But lines 3 and 4 were a bit of a stumbling block until my wife pointed out that actually a break falls between “오늘은 좀더 예쁘게 나 나 나 날 (오늘도) 보여줘” and “너무 멋진 너 너 너 너 너에게”.

너를 생각하면 더 거울에 비친 내 모습은 마치

너무 예쁜데 너는 자꾸 왜 다른 생각만 하는지

왜 날 보지 않는건데

내 거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

내 거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

It’s as if my reflection becomes prettier the more I think of you

Why do you frequently think differently?

Why do you not look at me?

My mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

Hey Mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

My mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

Hey Mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

Again, Lines 1 & 2 become much easier if you know there’s a break between “너를 생각하면 더 거울에 비친 내 모습은 마치 너무 예쁜데” and “너는 자꾸 왜 다른 생각만 하는지”, but this time the location of the “더” complicates things even further. Ideally, it should be placed before the “예쁜데” in line 2.

대체 왜 언제나 본 체 만 체만 하고

매일 밤 너는 날 가슴 뛰게 만들어

언제나 너무 멋진 너 너 너 너 너

내게로 다가오게 더 더 더 더 더 Ma boy

거울아 거울아 이 세상에 누가 제일 예쁘니?

거울아 거울아 이 세상에 내가 제일 예쁘니?

처음부터 마음에 들었다고 내게 말해줘 봐

Why on Earth do you always pretend not to see me and

make my heart pound every night?

Always so cool you you you you you

Come more more more more and more closer to me Ma boy

Hey Mirror, hey Mirror, who is the prettiest in the world?

Hey Mirror, hey Mirror, who is the prettiest in the world?

Please try to say that from the beginning, I was the one for you

And here, again there’s a long causative in line 2 – “가슴 뛰게 만들어” – but the “날” before that (me [object]) is I think ungrammatical, and it should really say “내” (my) instead. Before that, the phrase “본 체 만 체” (pretend not to see; show indifference to; slight) was a new one on me, and it didn’t help that I forgot that “[verb] + (으)ㄴ/는 체하다” was the same as “[verb] + (으)ㄴ/는 척하다” (to pretend to [verb])”! (see p. 58 of KGIL)

Next, it’s just the chorus again.

너를 생각하면 더 거울에 비친 내 모습은 마치

너무 예쁜데 너는 자꾸 왜 다른 생각만 하는지

왜 날 보지 않는건데 예~

내 거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

내 거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

It’s as if my reflection becomes prettier the more I think of you

Why do you frequently think differently?

Why do you not look at me?

My mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

Hey Mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

My mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

Hey Mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

Oh mirror shine Let me fix my make up

Break it down Break it down

Baby I like that Baby baby just I like that

Baby I like that Baby baby just I like that

더 더 더 내게 빠져들어

Shine on my face 모두 놀라지 Oh

거울아 거울아 이 세상에서 누가 제일 예쁘니? It’s me

Oh mirror shine Let me fix my make up

Break it down Break it down

Baby I like that Baby baby just I like that

Baby I like that Baby baby just I like that

Become fallen for me more more more

Shine on my face everybody surprised Oh

Hey Mirror, hey Mirror, who is the prettiest in the world? It’s me

In line 5, I was confused by how “빠져들어” is different to “빠지다” (to fall into/for), and the best explanation my wife could provide was that it means “become fallen for”. Which is just fine with me, but it does sound a little awkward.  Can anybody do any better?

And suddenly it’s already the last verse:

좀더 너에게 다가가서 난 1,2 step 1,2 step 1,2 step

Let’s live it up Let’s make it up

나를 보면 니 마음 흔들릴수 있게

내 거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

내 거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

거울아 (거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아)

거울아 거울아 거울아 거울아

I’ll come a little closer to you, I 1,2 step 1,2 step 1,2 step

Let’s live it up Let’s make it up

If you see me I can make your heart shake

My mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

Hey Mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

My mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

Hey Mirror (Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror Hey Mirror)

For the sake of comparison, see this alternate translation by Chris @4-minute.com, who also subbed the above video. As you can see, fortunately our versions seem pretty much the same, although his(?) sounds rather better because he hasn’t been quite so literal with his choice of words!

Meanwhile, apologies to any readers that may have been expecting a promised(?) translation of Can’t Nobody by 2NE1 (투애니원) instead today, but unfortunately my finally getting tired of that after listening to it for probably the 100th time(!) coincided with me getting heavily into this one, and besides which I wanted to do something more recent for a change. Having said that, next I’ll actually be doing the 2005 song Girls on Top by BoA (보아), because a reader sent me the following intriguing email:

…I have been following your girl group lyric translations but there’s one song I am really curious about, mostly because I’d like to know if it’s as overtly feminist as I suspect it is. The song would be Boa’s “Girls on Top”…

…It’s not only the gold lamé and skull ring that’s tough but the part at the end where she fake kicks her male dancers into submission in a Take Back the Night inspired bit of of pop choreography. I know you’re focusing mostly on girl groups, but I think this one’s interesting in the context of K-pop because it seems to fall outside the two ever present concepts of “sexy” and “cute.” I have tried to find the lyrics in English but most of them are poorly done. What I’ve gleaned so far is that she may be talking about the myriad conflicting expectations a modern girl must fulfill and might even be bemoaning the constant pressure to embody male views of sexiness (!). Or it could be a girl power-lite anthem conceived by greedy business men; but either way I’d like to hear your views.

Until then, I hope you a good weekend, and as always I’d appreciate any feedback on the translation and/or your thoughts on the song!^^

(For more Korean song translations, please see here)

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Filed under: Censorship, Girl Groups, Korean Media, Korean Music, Korean Sexuality, Song Lyrics & Translations Tagged: 4Minute, 거울아 거울아, 포미닛, Mirror Mirror


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