KOREAN MUSIC: Yim Jaebum's "For You" & Its Lyrics

임재범, 너를 위해


Today, one of my blog readers, phuongchinsu, asked me if I could help find the lyrics of the song, Neoreul Wihae(너를 위해,“For You”), in English.  So I chose to translate the song myself and I tried to remain as close to the original text as possible while translating it.

FYI, the song was originally made in 1997 with different lyrics.  It was titled Song-ae (송애 (送愛), "Seeing Off Love") and sung by Esther, a former lead singer of the now-disbanded Sohodae (소호대, “Little Tigers”:  1997~2003). The song was featured on her debut solo album “Esther Nation,” which was released in 1997 but unfortunately bombed.  I still wonder what might have happened if the song had been chosen as the title track.  The song’s lyrics were written by Choe Wonsuk, a professor, vocal trainer of YGE singers (such as Big Bang and 2NE1) and also the Voice of Korea winner Son Seungyeon, and lyricist – he also wrote the lyrics to Yim’s 1997 hit, Sarangboda Gipeun Sangcheo (사랑보다 깊은 상처, ”Scars Deeper Than Love”).   On the first listen, the song seems to be about a woman left behind, but I think it’s about a woman coping with the death of the sweetheart.


Esther: Song-ae "Seeing Off Love" (1997)
With English Lyrics


Shin Jaehong, the writer of the song, must have loved his creation so much that in 2000, he rearranged it with different lyrics written by Chae Jung-eun who also wrote the lyrics to Yim’s 1998 hit, Gohae (고해, ”Confession”).   On MBC’s NAGASU (5/1/2011), Yim revealed she wrote the lyrics based on his personal experience and love story.

Born out of wedlock in 1962 (or 1963) by Yim Taekgeun, a TV announcer/sportscaster-turned-CEO, and abandoned by both parents, he was sent to an orphanage and brought up there until he was officially added to his father’s family register.  That’s why he went to high school together with Shin Daecheol, who was born in 1967.  (Shin is a leader/guitarist of Sinawe and the first son of Shin Junghyun, a legendary Korean guitarist, singer and song writer.)  Yim’s celebrity father had reportedly involved with a lot of women and the actor Sohn Jichang is his half brother. Sohn was neglected by his father, too and that's why he uses the surname of his imobu (이모부, "husband of one's aunt on one's mother's side").

Yim endured neglect as a child and such traumatic childhood has haunted him from birth throughout his life.  In his 2010 interview, he described himself as a child, melancholic, and old man.  He said, “I can't adapt myself to reality.  I know how to live realistically, but I just can’t come to terms with it or get any satisfaction from it.  It’s like, when I go on a boat (to reach the opposite shore), I suddenly feel like flying.”  Throughout his career, he's been known for his personal eccentricities and unpredictability which often get him into trouble.  And the song’s lyrics are about his bygone relationship he had while going through the stormy years of his life.


Yim Jaebum: Neoreul Wihae "For You" (2000)
With English Lyrics


Even though he didn't do any promotional activities, the song became a mega hit as it was featured on the soundtrack to the 2000 Korean movie, Donggam (동감, “Dittoo”).  (Click to watch the music video of the song featuring scenes from the movie.)  Honestly though, I like his rendition of the song on NAGASU best.  The depth of his voice, his emotion, and even his breathing and sighs when singing the song reflected where he came from and what he's been through in his life.  And I could feel it while listening to him.


[LIVE] Yim Jaebum: Neoreul Wihae "For You"
MBC's NAGASU (5/1/2011)