등골브레이커 (Spine Breaker)

English translation and Korean lesson with the lyrics of 등골브레이커 (Spine Breaker) by BTS, from the 2014 album Skool Luv Affair.


Produced by: Pdogg, OWO
Written by: Pdogg, OWO, RM, SUGA, j-hope, Slow Rabbit, Supreme Boi, Song Chang-sik

Find it here: SpotifyApple MusicAmazon Music
Self-Made MV: YoutubeVLive (BTS Gayo MV Making Video)


Context Note:

This song is about the padded jacket fad that was sweeping South Korea when this song was released, and for many years before and after. Expensive padded jackets (referred to as 패딩) – especially North Face brand – were very popular. In order to fit in with the trends and not be ostracized at school, many students placed lots of pressure on their parents to splurge on an expensive padded jacket for them. This led to the jackets being given the nickname “spine breakers”.

There was/is even a bit of a class divide created by the craze, in which you were either part of the class of people who could afford to wear a 패딩 or not. So it wasn’t just about wanting to keep up with fashion, but to avoid being looked down on as someone who belongs to the class of people who can’t afford to buy a padded jacket.


Verse 1:

왜 불러?

Why are you calling me?

왜 = why

부르다 = to call (aloud, not on the phone)


왜 불러?

Why are you calling me?

수십짜리 신발에 또 수백짜리 패딩

Shoes worth a bundle, a padded jacket worth hundreds,

수십 = tens (the way we might say dozens in English. 십 = ten)

-짜리 = worth X (수십짜리)

신발 = a shoe

-에 = at X, on X. In this case, “on top of X” (신발에)

또 = additionally, plus

수백 = hundreds (백 = 100)


수십짜리 시계에 또 으스대지 괜히

a watch worth a fortune, and showing off for nothing.

시계 = a watch

으스대다 = to brag, to show off

-지 = adds a nuance of “you know” or “isn’t it?” (으스대지)

괜히 = for nothing, to no avail


교육은 산으로 가고 학생도 산으로 가

Education heads for the hills and so do the students.

(산으로 가다 – “to go to the mountains” – is an expression whose meaning is actually not quite the same as the English expression “head for the hills” that I chose. 산으로 가다 means for something to veer off course, to deviate from the intended/original focus. The North Face logo is also a picture of a Mountain ridge.)

교육 = education

산 = a mountain

-으로 = to X, toward X (산으로)

가다 = to go

-고 = X and (가고)

학생 = a student

-도 = X too, even X (학생도)


21세기 계급은 반으로 딱 나눠져

In the 21st Century we’re being divided into two classes.

세기 = a century

계급 = a class, a rank

반 = half

나누다 = to divide, to share

-어지다 / -아지다 = makes a verb/adjective transitional. IE: not “to be split” but “to be in the process of splitting” sort of (나눠져)


있는 자와 없는 자

Those who have and those who don’t.

있다 = to be found, to exist

자 = a guy, a person

-와 / -과 = “and” when followed by an accompanying noun. Otherwise “with”. (자와)

없다 = to not be found, not exist


신은 자와 없는 자

Those with shoes and those without.

신다 = to put on footwear


입은 자와 벗는 자

Those who are dressed, those who are getting undressed,

(Likely referring to the problem that existed at the height of the padded jacket craze where bullies forced weaker students to take off their jackets and give them to them.)

입다 = to put on clothes, to wear

벗다 = to take off clothes


기를 써서 얻는 자

plus those who will do anything for those clothes.

기 = spirit, energy

쓰다 = to use, to spend

-어서 / -아서 = to do X and then… (써서)

얻다 = to gain, to get


이게 뭔 일이니 유행에서 넌 밀리니?

What’s the problem? Are you falling out of fashion?

이 = this, these

게/것  = a thing

뭐 = what

일 = multiple uses. 1: work. 2: matter, issue, thing

유행 = a trend

-에서 = inside X, out of X (유행에서)

너 = you

밀리다 = to be pushed


떼를 쓰고 애를 써서 얻어냈지, 찔리지?

You whined and pestered to get it. Have I hit a nerve?

떼를 쓰다 = to pester, to whine

애를 쓰다 = to put in effort

찌르다 = to be poked, to have a nerve hit


가득 찬 패딩 마냥 욕심이 계속 차

I jacket filled with padding. A greed that’s ever fuller.

가득차다 = to be filled with

마냥 = always, ever

욕심 = greed

계속 = continually

차다 = to be full


휘어지는 부모 등골을 봐도 넌 매몰차

Even though you see your parents’ spines bending, you remain heartless.

휘어지다 = to be bent, warped

부모 = parents (also commonly seen as 부모님. 님 is simply a particle that adds extra respect to a name or title)

등골 = a backbone, a spine

보다 = to look at, to see

-아도 / -어도 = even if/though X (봐도)

매몰차다 = to be harsh, heartless


친구는 다 있다고 졸라대니 안 사줄 수도 없다고

Since you keep pressing, saying all your friends have it, it’s impossible not to buy it for you.

친구 = a friend

다 = all, everyone, everything

졸라대다 = to press, to pressure

-니 / -으니 = since X, because X (졸라대니)

안 = to not do/be X (X being the accompanying verb/adjective)

사다 = to buy

-아주다 / -어주다 = adds a nuance of “for” or “as a favour to” someone (사줄)

-ㄹ 수 없다 / -을 수 없다 = to not be able to do X (사줄 수도 없다고)


(Ayo baby) 철딱서니 없게 굴지 말어

(Ayo baby) Don’t act like a child.

철딱서니 = discretion

철딱서니 없다 = to be childish

굴다 = to behave

-지 말다 = “Don’t do X” (굴지 말어)


그깟 패딩 안 입는다고 얼어 죽진 않어

Just because you’re not wearing a padded jacket, you’re not going to freeze to death.

그깟 = such

얼다 = to freeze

죽다 = to die

-지 않다 = to not do X (죽진 않어)


패딩 안에 거위털을 채우기 전에

Before filling that padded jacket with goose down,

안 = the inside of something

거위 = a goose

털 = a feather

채우다 = to fill

-기 전에 = before X (채우기 전에)


니 머릿속 개념을 채우길, 늦기 전에

I wish you’d fill your head with some sense, before it’s too late.

니 = you, your (alternate spelling of 네)

머리 = one’s head

속 = the inside of something

개념 = a notion, a concept

늦다 = to be late


Chorus:

Wow 기분 좋아 걸쳐보는 너의 dirty clothes

Wow. It feels good putting on your dirty clothes.

기분 = a feeling

좋다 = to be good

걸치다 = to try on

-어보다 / -아보다 = to give X a try, to see about doing X. Read more here. (걸쳐보는)

-의 = indicates possession like ‘s in English (너의)


넌 뭔가 다른 rockin, rollin, swaggin, swagger, wrong

You’re something else, rockin, rollin, swaggin, swagger, wrong

다르다 = to be different


도대체 왜 이래 미쳤어 baby

Why are you like this? You’re crazy, baby.

도대체 = “__ the heck?” “__ on earth?”

이래 = like this

미치다 = to be crazy


그게 너의 맘을 조여버릴 거야 dirty clothes

It’s going to make you feel awful, dirty clothes.

그 = that, those

맘 = one’s heart/mind, in the metaphorical sense, not the anatomical. (shortened form of 마음)

조이다 = to tighten, to feel anxious, uneasy

-어버리다 / -아버리다 = to “go and do X” to “completely do X”. Read more here. (조여버릴)


(La la la la la la la la la)

니가 바로 등골브레이커

You’re the spine breaker.

바로 = just, exactly (Eg: “That’s just right”, “You’re exactly the person I wanted to see.”)


(La la la la la la la la la)

부모님의 등골브레이커

Your parents’ spine breaker.

(La la la la la la la la la)

언젠가는 후회하게 될 걸

You’re going to regret it someday.

언젠가 = someday, sometime

후회하다 = to regret

-게 되다 = to end up doing X; as in you didn’t set forth with the intention of doing X, it just ended up that way (후회하게 될)


(La la la la la la la la la)

빌어먹을 등골브레이커

Damn spine breaker.

빌어먹다 = “to beg”, but 빌어벅을 is used to mean “dammit” or “that damn ___” sort of


Verse 2:

왜 불러 kid? 너넨 요즘 참 배불렀지.

Why are you calling me out, kid? You guys really have everything you need these days.

(The word used here is 배부르다, which means for one’s stomach to be full. But it’s also an expression meaning that one has everything they need and to wish for more would just be greed.)

너네 = you (plural)

요즘 = lately, these days

참 = very, quite

배부르다 = for one’s stomach to be full


남의 인생 참견이 좀 주제넘지.

Butting into others’ lives is a bit presumptuous.

남 = others, other people

인생 = a life

참견 = meddling, interference

좀 = a bit, a little

주제넘다 = to be presumptuous, to be over the line


속 빈 강정뿐인 말들을 왜 계속해?

Why do you keep saying empty words?

(The literal translation of this expression is: “Why do you keep saying words that are just empty rice puffs?” 강정 – “rice puffs” or “rice crackers” are an extremely light Korean snack without much substance.)

빈 = empty

강정 = a rice puff, rice cracker

-뿐 = only X, being nothing but X (강정뿐인)

말 = words, speech

-들 = makes a noun plural (말들을)


내가 받은 돈 내가 쓰겠다는데

It’s my own money that I’m spending.

내 = I, me, my

받다 = to receive

돈 = money


5천만의 취향을 다 니들처럼 맞춰야 만족할 사람들이지

You’re people who are only satisfied once you’ve changed the tastes of 50 million people to match yours.

(50 million was about the population of South Korea at the time of this song’s release.)

천 = a thousand

만 = ten thousand

취향 = preference, taste

-처럼 = like X (니들처럼)

맞추다 = to make something match, suit

만족하다 = to be satisfied

사람 = a person


제발 너나 잘 사셔 니 인생 말이여

Please, just take worry about your own life.

제발 = please

잘 = well (as in “he sings well”)

살다 = to live


니가 나면 말 안 하겠어

If I were you I wouldn’t say anything.

-면 = if/when X (나면) *In Korean they say “If you were me” instead of “If I were you”

말하다 = to speak, to say


그래 내 패딩 더럽게 비싸고 더럽게 안 예뻐

Yeah, my padded jacket is awfully expensive and awfully ugly.

그래 = yeah, okay, sure

더럽다 = to be dirty

-게 = turns an adjective into an adverb. IE: “dirty” becomes “dirtily” (더럽게)

비싸다 = to be expensive

예쁘다 = to be pretty


(But I say) 너무 갖고 싶은데 어떡해

(But I say) I wanted it so bad, what could I do?

너무 = too, so

갖다 = to have

-고 싶다 = to want to do X (갖고 싶은데)

어떡해 = how, “What should I do?”


나보다 못 사는 친구들도 다 가졌는데

Even my friends who are worse off than me all have them.

-보다 = compared to X, more than X (나보다)

못 = to not be able to do X (X being the accompanying verb)


(And I say) 은따 되기 싫음 살 수밖에

(And I say) If I don’t want to be ostracized I have no choice.

은따 = the act of blocking someone from acceptance into a group

되다 = to become

-기 싫다 = to not want to do X (되기 싫음)

-ㄹ 수 밖에 (없다) = to have no choice but to do X (literally: for there to be nothing outside of X)


이 나이 때쯤이면 원래 다들 좀 그러잖니

That’s kind of how everyone around my age is.

나이 = age

때 = the point in time at which something happens

쯤 = roughly, about

원래 = originally, by nature, in general

그렇다 = to be like that

-잖아 = used when saying something the listener already knows (그러잖니)


Yeah I dunno, yes I’m loco, is it no-no?

I know they ain’t cheap but they got mojos

But 난 내 할 일은 잘해 부모님 등골 안 부셔.

But I work hard. I don’t break my parents’ spines.

하다 = to do

부수다 = to break, to smash


진짜 브레이커는 나이 먹고 아직도 방구석인 너

The real spine breaker is you, fully grown but still sitting around in your room.

진짜 = something reall

먹다 = to eat (나이 먹다 means to get older)

아직 = still, yet

방 = a room 

구석 = a corner


Chorus:

Wow 기분 좋아 걸쳐보는 너의 dirty clothes

Wow. It feels good putting on your dirty clothes.

넌 뭔가 다른 rockin, rollin, swaggin, swagger, wrong

You’re something else, rockin, rollin, swaggin, swagger, wrong

도대체 왜 이래 미쳤어 baby

Why are you like this? You’re crazy, baby.

그게 너의 맘을 조여버릴 거야 dirty clothes

It’s going to make you feel awful, dirty clothes.


Bridge:

너도 dirty clothes 나도 dirty clothes.

Your clothes are dirty too. My clothes are dirty too.

누구나 겪어봤겠지

Everyone’s probably gone through it.

누구나 = everyone

겪다 = to experience, to go through something


입고 거리로 나가보면 어깨 힘 빡 들어가고

When I get dressed and head out to the street, my shoulders reach the sky, and

(If you’ve consumed a fair bit of BTS content, you have definitely heard at least the guys joke about their shoulders going up. Having one’s shoulders rise is an expression meaning to be proud of oneself – or someone else – or to be feeling pretty good about oneself. I’m pretty sure that in at least 2 separate comeback specials V has promised ARMY that the new album will make their shoulders will rise as high as Mount Everest.)

거리 = a street

나가다 = to go out

어깨 = a shoulder

힘 = one’s strength

들어가다 = to go into


나보다 작아 보이지 like 걸리버

compared to me everyone looks small, like Gulliver.

작다 = to be small

보이다 = to be visible, to look (like X)


뭘 입어도 이해해

No matter what you wear, I understand,

이해하다 = to understand


근데 넌 너무 배가 부른 상태

But your stomach is too full.

(The same expression is used here as in RM’s verse.)

근데 = but

배 = one’s stomach

상태 = a state, a condition


체해, 후회해

You’ll get indigestion. You’ll feel regret.

체하다 = to have indigestion


넌 계속 swag해, 허나 부모 맘은 배제해?

You keep swaggering, but you don’t consider your parents’ feelings?

허나 = but (old Korean)

배제하다 = to exclude, to discount


그래 말리진 않을게 이제 맘을 정해

Fine, I won’t stop you. Now make up your mind.

말리다 = to stop someone

-을게 / -ㄹ게 = “I’ll do X” with an added nuance of “unless you object” or “if that’s okay with you” (않을게)

이제 = now

정하다 = to decide, to set


Chorus:

Wow 기분 좋아 걸쳐보는 너의 dirty clothes

Wow. It feels good putting on your dirty clothes.

넌 뭔가 다른 rockin, rollin, swaggin, swagger, wrong

You’re something else, rockin, rollin, swaggin, swagger, wrong

도대체 왜 이래 미쳤어 baby

Why are you like this? You’re crazy, baby.

그게 너의 맘을 조여버릴 거야 dirty clothes

It’s going to make you feel awful, dirty clothes.

(La la la la la la la la la)

니가 바로 등골브레이커

You’re the spine breaker.

(La la la la la la la la la)

부모님의 등골브레이커.

Your parents’ spine breaker.

(La la la la la la la la la)

언젠가는 후회하게 될 걸

You’re going to regret it someday.

(La la la la la la la la la)

빌어먹을 등골브레이커

Damn spine breaker.


BTS Spine Breaker lyrics English and Korean