Lang Lee – 욘욘슨

Most of the time I don’t really mind not understanding the lyrics when listening to Korean music–after all the language barrier is what prompted me to get invested to begin with–but every now and then there’s the odd artist that makes me wish I had allowed myself the time to study the language properly. Lang Lee being the latest example.


Gathering songs made by Lang Lee from 2008 through 2010, her first full-length album 욘욘슨 (Yon Yonson) offers one intriguing tune after the other. Lang Lee is said to be “ddorai” (또라이), that I’ve taken to lovingly mean peculiar in an eccentric way, and it is reflected in her lyrics to the extent that it’s noticeable even to me. Already opening track “잘 알지도 못하면서”, title translating to “You don’t even really know”, where she sings of being the ugly sister offers quirkiness in the shape of:

나 예쁘니? 어디가? 진짜?
Do you think I’m pretty? Like how? Really?

그럼 나랑 사귈래?
Then can I ask you out?

And it continues till the very end, the album closing with “로쿠차 구다사이” where Yoda gets help ordering green tea in Japanese (see translation by Gord Sellar for full context) which has been a favorite with me since the Star Wars Project Compilation 2008.

So is there anything to Lang Lee also for those without any grasp of Korean whatsoever? Definitely! In essence it’s the standard singer-songwriter girl with an acoustic guitar and fairly simple melodies, but paying closer attention every song is a standout track in its own way. There’s a slight psychedelic folk feeling to many of the arrangements and Lang Lee has included several hooks and other clever constructs inviting anyone to sing or hum along to their best ability.

Borrowing the words from my own favorite song on the album, the Kurt Vonnegut inspired “하하하 (Hahaha)”: 좋아 좋아 정말 좋아. Good, good, really good~

Lang Lee on Facebook
Lang Lee on Twitter

Courtesy of Somoim Records, here is the full translation for “잘 알지도 못하면서”:

잘 알지도 못하면서
You don’t even really know

난 사실 멋내는게 좋아
To be honest, I like to dress up

아무도 모르게 은근히 슬쩍슬쩍
but in a way that no one would notice

그런데 누가 멋냈느냐고 물어보면
So when someone asks why have you dressed up

무슨 말인지 모르겠다는 듯이
I would go, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’.

내가 왜 그러는지
I’m not sure why I’m like this

어려서부터 울 언니가 나보다 훨 예뻤어
Since childhood my sister was the pretty one

얼굴도 작고 늘씬한 서구형 미인
small face and skinny western type girl

그래서 내가 언제부턴가 멋부리려고 했더니
So when I tried to dress a little better

못생긴 애가 멋부린다고 어른들이 놀렸어 그래서 그랫어
the adults teased me saying ‘The ugly one’s trying to be pretty’

누가 나보고 예쁘다고 하면
So when someone told me that I was pretty

난 그말만 듣고 그럼 나랑 사귀자고 했어
I would asked them to be my boyfriend, just on those words

그런식으로 만난 남자만해도 벌써
If you count the boys I met like that there were

한명 두명 세명 네명 다섯명 여섯명 일곱명 여덟명
one two three four five six seven eight…

내가 왜 그랬는지
I’m not sure why I’m like this

그러니까 너도 함부로 나한테
So don’t you be telling me mindlessly

남자관계가 복잡하다고 뭐라고 말하지마
that my relationships are complicated

잘 알지도 못하면서 알지도 못하면서
You don’t even really know

나 예쁘니? 어디가? 진짜?
Do you think I’m pretty? Like how? Really?

그럼 나랑 사귈래?
Then can I ask you out?

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