Learning a New Language, Getting Insulted, and Thus Retaliating

I’m in the middle of writing a paper, but I got bored with it and therefore sidetracked myself for a second. And, as always happens in such cases, one distraction led to another until, well, I came across an indirect dis. And now I’m kind of insulted–like, to the point where I need to talk about it or else I won’t be able to finish my paper.

Yes, it’s actually bugging me that much (and probably not even rightfully so). But I ask you to just give me a moment to take up and disprove this dis nonetheless, for that’s the only way in which I can be cured.

I thank you in advance.

So, I’ve been trying to learn Korean for quite a few months now–mostly because I am selfish, bored, and just really want to travel there in the near future (even though that will probably never happen). The language is beautiful, and I love it–although I do find it to be a bit overwhelming at times. So in order to help me grasp it a bit easier (as well as pick up on some more lingo than what the free online lessons provide), I’m applying the advice of one of my Spanish teachers from years past, advice that she both lives by and would most definitely die for: Music is the easiest way to learn a new language.

She’s right, you know, but, as you also already know, that isn’t why I’m here.

You see, I distracted myself from my paper in order to continue my journey to fully comprehend Hangul (a.k.a. listen to some cool music and translate fun, deep, funny lyrics…and critically analyze the dynamic character change of John Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost no longer).

And, as I’m sure you can imagine, I was truly enjoying my relishing in the break from the aforementioned monotony.

The band I was looking into at the time was one of my favorites: a rap/pop group called BTS. I tend to always use them for translation purposes because, not only are their songs amazingly catchy, but the lyrics are also actually pretty darn meaningful, too–especially for a bunch of 17 to 22 year old boys.

Well, I decided to translate their song “Killer” (or “Cypher Pt. 3: Killer” if you prefer the official name) this time around–which is one of my absolute favorites ever of theirs, by the way, despite the swearing (those naughty, naughty boys!).

And not too horribly long into the process, I realized that, in the song, they say this:

“Yeah, I’m from Korea, so all you ba****ds who try to rap in English,

Look and see who’s on top of you right now, what!”


Now, I don’t know if I’m just being overly sensitive, but I’m very offended by this–and you better believe I’m about to tell you why!

First, though, there’s one thing you need to know that I’ve discovered in my studying about this band. I’ve noticed that, naturally, these guys are all about telling their haters to stop hating because said haters are just jealous and therefore have no logical argument in which to ground their hate. They’re also all about telling haters how much they suck (talent-wise in comparison to the band’s skills) and therefore (again) have no right to judge (which is a horrid fallacy but whatever).

So hopefully you can see why a comment like the one that has offended me might end up in a BTS song in the first place. That’s what they focus on: being better than the rest (as well as wooing women, but that’s for a whole other post).

I’m totally alright with said calling out of haters who are in the wrong, though (notice the foreshadowing of what I’m about to do to them, muahaha). In general, it is simply necessary to do such a thing. That’s the only way people learn right from wrong, after all.

In BTS’ specific case, it doesn’t annoy me that they talk about how much they’ve given up in order to get to where they are in life–as compared to some of the other musicians out there who have basically been granted the same exact position by the wave of some rich, magical genie’s fairy princess wand (no name dropping here)–because they’ve truly earned such bragging rights. If they want to show off a bit, then so be it.

And, regarding the whole “sucking” thing, I’ve never felt insulted when a song I didn’t really like by them suddenly started telling me I have no right to dislike it because I don’t even know them/anything about music and therefore have no reason to be hating/have my hate taken seriously. I mean, they’re totally right, so how could I get mad?

But the above lyrics are different than what I’ve just described, and that’s what’s getting to me. I think it’s because the dis is no longer only about facing rude or undeserving people; this one’s regarding a whole culture–and one of which I am a member! It’s personal, and it’s flawed (on many levels). I mean, calling out English? Of all the languages, English? And of all the people to do so, South Korean pop rappers?


Yeah, as a native speaker and writer of English who knows enough about both her own culture and Korean culture at this point in her life to very safely conclude that English is vital to both in many, many ways, shapes, and forms (especially the whole rapping part), I think I’m free to be offended by the above. And I think I’m also free to call BTS out on their horribly grounded statement.

First, though, to address the whole interpretation aspect (that I’m sure you’re thinking of) that I’ve been purposely neglecting.

Yes, I know the lyrics I’m considering can be taken in many different ways depending on the individual–and who knows which of those meanings they were even actually supposed to have–but–and I’m just saying this as a fellow writer–whenever things are going to be left open for interpretation, you should probably try to make sure you cover all possible interpretations before sending it out for the enjoyment of the world. If you don’t, then it’s your fault if your words are mistaken and therefore cause a ruckus (as BTS’ are sort of doing now).

I mean, that’s kind of the whole point of considering the different could-be interpretations in the first place: to catch any possibly bad ones and somehow negate them within the work before it’s published and thus too late to change. You know, averting the crisis and such.

So, with that being said, BTS could have definitely clarified the true meaning of those lines in some way within the song. If they had done so, I wouldn’t be here right now getting ready to rip them a new one. But they didn’t…

So, with that being said, here’s what I took the lyrics for:

“So what if I’m Korean? I put all of my time and effort into what I do, and I’m actually talented. Why does it matter if I’m not English? All those other English rappers are simply given everything they could ever need to be successful in what they do. They’re just privileged and don’t even work hard or have true talent, and so they suck. But us? Well, we’re just some Korean kids, and look how famous we are! We own you, practically! What!”

The other two interpretations I can think of are:

1. Stupid k-pop stars who try to rap in English just so you can be perceived as cool, talented rappers! Just because no one understands what you say (and also just because you say it quickly), it doesn’t instantly make you a “rapper” like us. You think you’re number one, but just take a look at us! What!

2. English rap is dumb. The Korean language is so much better. What!

I don’t know, man!

Like I said before, I can’t get into their minds to know which one they truly meant, so all I can go off of is what I read it to be. And that reading is precisely why I’m sitting here writing this, desperately trying to convince myself that no harm was meant by the contriving of these lyrics.

But I still can’t help feel that my culture has been attacked, and I don’t like it. I mean, why do you even have to bring English into this, BTS? What did we ever do to you?

Gosh, I’m just really ticked by this, even though I know I probably shouldn’t be.

Well, sorry if I’m wrong, but I’m still going to rebut their claim anyway. Oops. Here’s all I have left to say:

1. There are better insults out there than curses. To me, you’re showing a lack of intellect with that word choice and therefore have already discredited your point. After all, why believe someone who is too stupid to not swear?

2. I write songs and poetry and raps (yeah, don’t laugh, thanks) in my spare time, and I must say that, from an English-speaking perspective, the language is quite beautiful in any form. Rap in English can be extremely meaningful and is actually more difficult to write than Korean, for we don’t have the blessing of every sentence needing to end in verbs/adjectives–that all sound exactly the same, might I add. So you should appreciate English rap, fools!

3. You don’t speak English yet rap in the language all the time

*cough* hypocrite *cough*

4. Okay, so you do speak English, but you speak it about as well as I speak Korean: horribly. Seriously, your English sucks.  So how can you judge anyone’s English rapping?

Is that taste of your own medicine hard to swallow? It should be, cause that’s one bitter pill.

Side Note- Hire me, Big Hit Entertainment: I will teach you the English way (and also improve the English correspondences that you so desperately try to make but always fail so hard at because your English simply makes no sense).

5. You are neither figuratively nor literally on top of me right now. Figuratively, you have only slightly more fame than I do among English speakers, and, literally, my computer is what is on top of me right now. So, again, argument invalid.

6. Blanket statements are seldom right.

And the lyricist of the group was apparently one of the smartest students in Korea! Yeah, I say as I scoff.

Jokingly, of course–but a scoff nonetheless.

With all my anger finally out, I’m legitimately hoping and praying that they were only referring to fellow Korean rappers who are skating through the industry solely due to their excessive use of English. But even if they weren’t, I love them too much to let a puny cultural insult destroy what I feel.

So, no hard feelings, BTS? Because I do love your music. Seriously, I’m not trying to hate. It’s just that, when I feel like something’s gone wrong, I need to point it out. And the above lyrics could possibly be very, very wrong. So I pointed them out…


Now, I doubt you’ll ever see this, BTS, but if you do, just please don’t be offended and write lyrics about how unworthy I am, about how I need to “back up and look in the mirror” (quoth I from “Killer). I’m only doing this because I care about you and don’t want this to happen again, for your sake.

…Which will be easy if you simply avoid making an argument composed solely of insults, for insults are no more than opinions, and opinions are impossible to defend. Go ahead and talk smack (or talk yourself up), just do it with facts.

Or else risk facing myself scathingly picking apart your arguments once again.

Sorry, she said with a sarcastic shrug.


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