Archive for April, 2011

Get On Up

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my favourite music. One of the recording artists I mentioned was a Korean singer/songwriter/guitarist/ harmonica player named Kim Kwang Suk. He is famous for writing many great songs which he sang while playing guitar and harmonica too. Perhaps the most famous of these songs is called, in Korean, ‘Ireona’ which means ‘Get On Up,’ or perhaps just ‘Get Up’.

When I looked for a copy of that song on YouTube, I noticed that some of the clips had the lyrics printed below. Reading the words, I thought that they may have been translated accurately, but not by someone who is both a native speaker of English, and not by someone who enjoys playing with words. I decided to brush up the translation a bit. This then, below, is my interpretation of the translation of this important and famous song.

It now ‘scans’ a lot better in terms of being able to be matched with the song’s original rhythm, however, you may notice if you try singing these words along with the original recordings that the end of each verse seems to finish two lines too early! It is difficult to decide what to do about this issue. I will need to spend more time with the lyrics in Korean and try to figure out whether to rewrite the verses in English, or whether to write whole new lines that try to keep in the spirit of the song while maintaining the original length and ‘feel’ of each verse.

Update: Perhaps another solution could be merely to repeat the last two lines of each verse. This might be seen as preferable because it adds the least total amount of words not written directly by the original writer, and therefore is the least intrusive on the original content’s meaning, and thus most faithful to the original words.

Do you know the song and the lyrics? What is your advice? How would you translate the words in a way that can be sung comfortably in English? What do you think of my interpretation of the lyrics below? All polite and constructive feedback is welcome. Please leave a message in the comments section below.


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Get On Up


Verse 1

It’s late in the middle of a dark, dark night.

I can’t see a single thing in front of me.

Where should I go? What should I do, where should I be?

Looking around I can’t see a single sight.

Life is like a river weed floating ever on,

Then rotting on some lost and peaceful beach.



Get on up, rise on up!

Let’s get into it, get on, and start again!

Get on up, rise on up!

Like the new sprout standing strong again in spring.


Verse 2

Talking round and round and on, we just can’t see the end.

With different ways and words and wills we’ll find our way,

But as we realize we all have to live and compromise.

The freshness finally starts to fade away to gray.

As the sun swings past it flits so fast, back and forth,

And the horizon’s rising sun soon starts again.


Chorus (and instrumental)


Verse 3

Taking all so easily eventually ends in pain,

And then the world will turn its big back on you.

I look around and then I find much to my surprise

That somehow it seems I’m still alive.

The more beautiful the flower, the faster it fades away.

And as the sun shines down, dew dries into the sky.


Chorus (and repeat to end)


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Progress … ?

It is very encouraging to see that The Korea Herald has posted a picture of the new compulsory design style for cigarette packets in Australia. Even better than this fact is that the picture and caption were featured on the front page of last Friday’s newspaper.

The caption is very brief and offers virtually no real detail or explanation, however, the picture is there, along with mention of the fact only that cigarette companies will have to include warnings on the many negative effects of smoking has on health of smokers and others around them (‘second hand smokers’).

I believe this to be a great thing, and I really look forward to the day that this is accepted and adopted here in South Korea.

Front page feature - Is it good? Is it good enough?

This small front page photo caption piece is, however, really very tame compared to the BBC’s coverage of the development of this policy in Australia. Let us compare that newsprint front page piece above with this below, taken from the BBC website when the Australian law was first proposed nearly one year ago:

The photo was used in the BBC article on the same topic in April 2010. Do you think that this photo is more or less effective at getting people to stop smoking? Why did the BBC use this photo, and why did The Korea Herald not use it (yet)?

Even this latest picture used by the BBC is also probably more likely to ‘catch your eye‘ than the one used by The Korea Herald last week:

BBC 2011: "Australias design plans for cigarette packets are intentionally off-putting."

Personally though, I think that this personal blog-style ‘column’ by one reporter for the BBC does the most to easily explain these recent developments in a way that The Korea Herald piece did not:

“Olive green is the latest weapon in the ongoing battle between the Australian government and Big Tobacco. …

… Research has found that dark olive is the most unattractive colour for consumers, and particularly young people.”

Finally, this small front page feature, as obviously severely limited as it is, does go some small way to making up for the disappointing printing of an ‘advertorial’ last year in an English language newspaper on how one particular brand of cigarettes in Korea was deemed to be the most popular.

That particular ‘article’ was really just an advertisement in disguise, dressed up to look like a real news piece. That is a very disgusting practise. I hope that the journalists involved feel ashamed and give away any money they accepted for such a blatant and obvious example of covert advertising, especially seeing as it is further supporting such a destructive and addictive habit.

I hope that all forms of Korean media will continue to expand their coverage and the power of their content to help Korea really join in the most important and international ‘well-being’ trend on Earth these days (apart from stopping wars, fighting poverty, and tackling global warming): getting every university, home and street in South Korea to be full of only pure, fresh air, and thereby to be ‘smoke free’.

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A New Hero

A few months ago I wrote about some people whom I consider to be heroes.

I am very glad to introduce to you a new hero of mine today.

I look forward to reading more about her soon.

She is from right here in South Korea.

Her name is Bae Keum Ja.

The Korea Herald recently featured an article highlighting her great work:


Smokers face [uncomfortable challenges] in Supreme Court

2011-03-27 20:53

Will smokers be compensated for the cancer they develop after smoking cigarettes for decades without knowing its harms?

Moreover, will the court find tobacco firms guilty of selling carcinogens without appropriate warnings?

The answers now depend on the Supreme Court justices as six smokers and 25 of their relatives have filed a suit against KT&G, the tobacco manufacturer here, over the prevalence of cancers believed to have been caused by decades-long smoking habit. They have demanded a total of 360 million won ($320,000) in compensation.

The Seoul Central District Court and the Seoul High Court took 12 years to rule in favor of the tobacco maker, acknowledging that smoking increases cancer prevalence but requiring individuals to verify that smoking was the direct cause of their cancer. To successfully sue, the patients must also show that tobacco firms have concealed information about the harm that cigarettes have on human health.

We have secured information that KT&G had factsheets about the fatality of cigarettes from the 1960s. We have also gathered testimonies from world-class doctors and scholars who gladly spoke up for the truth of cigarettes leading to death. However, the judge said that he had to be extra-prudent because he was concerned about the possible breakdown of KT&G once the ruling goes against it,” said Bae Keum-ja, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. “It seems the court is taking the side of a poison maker.”

Bae, who graduated from Harvard Law School with studies on cigarette litigation, admitted that the struggle will be long and might not produce the result they are looking for.

KT&G has refused the court’s settlement offer to establish a public foundation dedicated to antismoking campaigning.

Unless a whistleblower turns up to reveal crucial facts that support our claims from the inside, the chances are not so high,” she said.

Bae said the reason she could not let go of the case is because she believes in social justice.

Among the six cancer patients, five have died and the last is now in critical condition.

“They had puffed for decades without anyone telling them not to smoke. It was 1986 when the first warning message was printed on the cigarette packaging. Moreover, it was only 2002 when the government decided to privatize the Korea Tobacco and Ginseng Corporation. Who would have really had a clue that the cigarette would kill them at last?” she said.

The lawyer blamed the government for ill management of tobacco firms.

“Imagine: If you have opium addict problems in a country, the first thing the administration would do is to ban the distribution and moreover, manufacture of the drugs to root them out. Punishment for the addicts would come later,” she said.

“However, it is cigarettes we are talking about. It is more addictive than any other materials and is smothered in various carcinogens as well as other poisons. Doesn’t it sound obligatory for the administration to take a hands-on approach to the issue?” she said.

Park Ghyo-sun, lawyer for KT&G, said there are still many smokers who haven’t been diagnosed with any diseases and nonsmokers who have been diagnosed with lung cancers. “We respect medical experts’ warning on the possible health threat of smoking but at the same time, the patients should prove that cigarettes are solely to blame for their suffering,” he said, refuting Bae’s claims.

He said the company has displayed several reports on the possible harmful effects of smoking at the National Assembly’s library for public access.

Park said that the tobacco firm has been devoted in many social campaigns and cigarettes are just an item of personal preferences.

“KT&G feels uncomfortable being labeled a toxin producer,” he said, adding that the tobacco manufacturers are ready to settle the issue with the plaintiffs under certain circumstances.

Bae refuted Park’s claim, saying that passive smoking also poses huge threat on nonsmokers. Toxic chemicals ― many of which are carcinogens ― are found in secondhand smoke, including benzene, benzopyrene, formaldehyde, ammonia and hydrogen cyanide. It has also been found that secondhand smoke contains twice as much nicotine and tar and five times the amount of carbon monoxide as the smoke inhaled by the smoker.

Bae also called for enhanced public awareness of the issue. “If a carcinogen was detected in a single item of food, the whole society would panic. People would demand thorough investigation and correctional orders.

If that didn’t work, they would ask for ban on the food,” she said.

“Why don’t we do it now on cigarettes? We could all die of it!” she said.

By Bae Ji-sook (

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A Musical Weekend

Wow. Life really can be ironic sometimes!

Yesterday, when I wrote about music – and also asked my students to write about their favourite music too – I had absolutely no idea that this weekend was to see the annual Gwangju Indie Music Festival, but it is actually this weekend, and it’s starting tonight!

A friend just messaged me about it. I am not going to be able to go to much of it at all, so, I hope my friends and students all go and enjoy it a lot. I know there is going to be some great local music playing!

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Speaking of local music and current times, I was interested to see just yesterday that the singer/songwriter/guitarist from Shihad, a band I mentioned yesterday from my home town of Wellington, is releasing a new album of songs very soon. He just released a video of one track which includes many great names in pop and rock music from Aotearoa – New Zealand. It sounds like fun!

Also, it’s easy to miss home when you live so far away from it, and so music from ‘back home‘ often becomes more interesting, even when it’s really ‘old’ and ‘out of date‘.

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My Favourite Music

If someone asks me what is my favourite style of music, I would say that it is a very difficult question to answer. Music is something very important to me. I really enjoy listening to music, and I believe that different styles and even different songs suit us when we are feeling different emotions, or doing different things. I could say, however, that I have three broad groups of favourite musical styles, usually related directly to songs.

Firstly, I enjoy songs with good lyrics. I studied literature at university and really liked reading and learning about poetry. I still enjoy a song in which the words communicate either a powerful message, a strong feeling, or those which create a clear image in my “mind’s eye”. If I can see pictures in my imagination, then the ‘imagery’ of the words is very good. Bob Dylan is famous for creating pictures with the words of his songs, and he is known as being an extremely good songwriter, even if some people don’t like his voice or his singing style. It’s also difficult to understand exactly what he means in some of his songs, but sometimes the rythm of the words and the images all roll together in the mind to create their own meaning, such as in this one, my favourite song of his, called ‘Subteranean Homesick Blues‘ [lyrics]. In Korea, Kim Kwang Seok is known as ‘the Bob Dylan of Korea’ because he also used to write great songs which conveyed pictures very clearly and emotions very strongly. One of his most famous songs is called ‘Get On Up!‘ [lyrics]. Two of my other favourite ‘lyracists’ are Rickie Lee Jones [Chuckie’s in Love] and Steve Earle [Somedaylyrics].


Rickie and Chuck E.

They are both successful songwriters, although they both also only ever had about one song each that was really significantly popular on the radio (in New Zealand, anyway), despite writing, singing and recording many songs and albums, all of which are great quality music. In Aotearoa – New Zealand, two famous bands which make songs like this include Herbs, and Crowded House. The latter band were so popular that they became very famous overseas. Probably their most famous song is called ‘Don’t Dream it’s Over [lyrics]’. I love listening to songs by any of these great songwriters when I want a quiet time to think, or to work on something with music in the background.

At other times though I like listening to loud, noisy rock music, for example, when I am cooking, or when I need to wake up in a hurry and get started on a busy day. At times like these, I like to listen to music by bands like Crying Nut, or No Brain, or The Rolling Stones, or Led Zeppelin. My favourite noisy band from Aotearoa – New Zealand is Shihad. All of these bands are also guitar based music, and often like to play loud and fast. Their songs are very motivating, and usually a lot of fun for doing things quickly, like running for exercise, or cleaning my apartment.

Then again, at other times, I like the quiter music of guitars or other stringed instruments for completely relaxing. Perhaps this is similar to the way many Korean people I have met say that they like ‘ballads’ or slow, quieter songs. I do not particularly like slow, quiet songs, but I do like music with a lot of feeling, and that which leaves room for the imagination to play just because of the music itself, perhaps completely without any lyrics. For me, this might mean that I want to listen to slower quieter songs by Led Zeppelin, or Bic Runga, or in Korea Vidulgi OoyoO. I also like quieter jazz music and classical string quartets can be really nice. Some ‘blues‘ songs are also quieter and great for more peaceful times. All these types of music can be great for studying, or for getting ready to sleep, or relaxing on a quiet afternoon.

In conclusion then, good music is a fairly central part of my life. I have never bought a television, nor even had one in my house or apartment for many years, but I really enjoy playing a good stereo whenever I am home. Part of that enjoyment is thinking about what kind of music would be good to listen to next, and what would be good to share with someone else.

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How to Make a Comment

How to Make a Comment on a Friend’s Blog

1.) Log in.

2.) Go to your your friend’s blog.

3.) Choose your friend’s post on which you want to comment.

Use your mouse to move the page up,

so that you can see the bottom of the ‘text’ (or underneath the writing).

Look for the words which say: “Leave a comment.” Click on these words.

4.) Write your positive feedback, or compliments,

into the ‘text box’ which will appear.

5.) Proofread your own writing in this comment.

Use the ‘Proofreading Checklist‘.


everyone else will be able to read your comment too!

6.) Read all your sentences again just to double check.

7.) Click on the ‘check boxes’ underneath the ‘text box’

if you want automatic email updates.

8.) Click on the ‘Post Comment’ box when you are ready to finish.

That’s it for now. Well done!

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1.) How to Proofread Your Writing Yourself

The Proofreading Checklist

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1.) Capitals/ lower case letters; periods and commas.

i – Titles

Is the first word in the title capitalized?

Are all the nouns, adjectives, and verbs in the title capitalized?

Make sure your title does NOT have a period.

ii – Your writing

Check all sentences start with a capital letter, and also all people, and so also should all proper nouns (important or unique (or special) places, for example Chosun University has a capital ‘C’ and ‘U’, but ‘the beach’ does not).

NOTE: All other words should not start with a capital letter.

All sentences should finish with a period (or ‘full-stop’).

Special NOTE: Conjunctions are spelled with small letters, and have a comma before them, like this:

…, and …, but …, so …, therefore …, however …,

2.) All sentences should have a verb. (Watch out for ‘fragments’ or ‘dependent clauses’!)

Are all your verbs the correct tense (past, present, or future)?

In those tenses, are the simple forms enough, or is the continuous better? [ie. “I drink…” or “I am drinking…” – ?]

3.) Nouns and their articles

Most nouns need an article.

Articles: a, an, the, and we can use ‘some’ as a plural-type article, sometimes.

For example: a banana; an apple; the orange; some grapes.

4.) Most sentences start straight after the previous sentence finishes. They are in groups called paragraphs.

What is a good ‘topic sentence’ (or introduction sentence) for that paragraph? What is a good ‘concluding sentence’ for that paragraph? (Think of the ‘bread on top and underneath the sandwich!)

5.) Please ‘double check’ using the ‘Proofread Writing’ function here on your blog.

Completely finished? Well done!

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