This particle means “while”. Simple as that. It can be attached to attached to verbs or adjectives. When used with verbs, it means to do X while doing Y. When used with adjectives, it means that something is X, while also being Y.
Like all grammatical principles, this gets attached to the root of the word. Remember, you can find the root of an adjective or verb by dropping the 다 from the end of it.
When attaching this particle to a word that ends in a consonant, use -으면서.
웃으면서 욕하는 저 친구에게 박수 ~ “A round of applause for that friend that smiles while talking crap.”
Original verb: 웃다 – to smile, to laugh
진짜 사랑인지 뭔지 믿지도 않으면서 ~ “While not really believing in love or anything…”
Original particle: -지 않다 – to not do X
When attaching this particle to a word that ends in a vowel, use -면서.
“너무나 먼 저 하늘의 별 올려보면서 ~ “While looking up at the stars in that sky, so far away.”
Original verb: 올려보다 – to look up at
I Need U:
왜 다칠 걸 알면서 자꾸 니가 필요해? ~ “Why do I keep needing you, knowing I’ll get hurt?”
Literal translation: “….while knowing I’ll get hurt?”
Original verb: 알다 – to know
*One more thing to note is that there’s an alternative, perfectly acceptable way of saying the same thing, and that is -(으)며. It attaches the same way, and means the same thing, it’s just shorter.
We are Bulletproof: the Eternal:
밤새 춤을 추며 노래해 ~ “Singing while staying up all night dancing”
Original verb: 추다 – to dance
난 너를 보며 꿈을 꿔. ~ “When I look at you I’m dreaming.”
Literal translation: “While I look at you I dream.”
Original verb: 보다 – to see, to look at
걸으며 빗소릴 듣는 순간 ~ “The moment when I hear the rain while walking.”
Original verb: 걷다 – to walk