Learn Korean Words with K-Pop – U&I by Ailee


Hi, everyone! 오랜만이에요! (It’s been a while!)

It’s been nearly 1년 (year) since our last Learn Korean with K-Pop blog post, and we think it’s high time we get back to it! Learn Korean with K-pop is a blog series that will introduce various vocabulary and phrases found in K-pop lyrics. Listening to music and studying the lyrics is a great way to support learning a language, but it’s not always the most useful way to study since the lyrics are, sometimes, not very practical and are often poetic.

Most vocabulary words will be defined in the infinitive (dictionary) form in this series. Some of the words will be different in the actual lyrics, and if you don’t already know conjugations, please check out our lessons on the subject of conjugation (Level 1 Lesson 22 and Level 3 Lesson 24).

Alrighty then! Enough of that! For this resurrection post, we decided to use an insanely popular song in Korea at this very moment: U&I by 에일리 (Ailee).

If you don’t know much about 에일리 (real name Amy Lee), she is considered a rookie in K-Pop, but she’s no stranger to singing. 에일리 created a YouTube channel 8 years ago to showcase her skills on the web before moving to South Korea in 2010. Before she even officially debuted as a singer, she appeared on stage with Wheesung in 2011 on the MBC 추석 special “Singer and Trainee.” She immediately won the hearts of the judges and audience with an impressive performance of Beyonce’s “Halo,” which won her first place on the show. Now known as the “Korean Beyonce,” 에일리’s powerful vocals and stage presence have shot her straight to the top of all the charts with the release of “U&I.” This girl has some serious pipes!


Full Official Music Video


The “왜 이러니” part only 

At the very beginning of this song in the first verse, 에일리 sings “왜 이러니, 왜 이러니 자꾸 똑같은 말.” She uses it again at the beginning of the 2nd verse, also. So, what exactly does she mean by this? Let’s break it down:

  • 왜 = why; how come
  • 이러다 = to be like this; to do things like this (= 이렇게 하다)
  • 왜 -니? = Why do you + V? (casual language)

Therefore, “왜 이러니” literally means “why are you being like this?” or “why are you acting like this?” and is used when you’re annoyed by someone’s action or behavior. In the case of 에일리, she is annoyed by “자꾸 똑같은 말.”

  • 자꾸 = frequently; again and again; over and over
  • 똑같이 = exact same; the same exact (thing)
  • -은 = particle used for turning verbs into adjectives (Check out TTMIK Level 3 Lesson 14 for more info)
  • 말 = speech/language (tongue)

If you put it all together, it seems that 에일리 is annoyed that someone keeps saying the exact same thing over and over again. I don’t blame her! I get super annoyed when people do that, too!

Here are some sample sentences that contain “왜 이러니” which are used in everyday, conversational Korean:

  • 너 오늘 왜 이러니? = Why are you being/acting like this today?
  • 나한테 왜 이러니? = Why are you doing this to me?
  • 힘들게 왜 이러니? = Why are you being/acting like this and making things difficult?
  • 안 된다는데 왜 자꾸 이러니? = I already said no, but why do you keep asking?

If you have a song, phrase, or word from a Korean song that you’d like to be featured in a future blog post, leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you understand!

Thanks for reading! Hope you had fun! Bye~!

Learn Korean Words with K-Pop – U&I by Ailee
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  • Ann

    Yaaaay! So glad that you decided to revive this series!
    I’m so in love with this song and Ailee. She’s great!
    Thanks a lot for clarifying this phrase, I couldn’t find the exact meaning anywhere.
    TTMIK 화이팅!

    • Yay!!! I hope many listeners will like this series again.

      Thanks for your kind comment. 🙂

  • Kevin Han

    I love you guys so much right now I can’t even explain with words, because I love Ailee! This post made my day =D

    • Wow, that’s nice! I like her song so much, too. 🙂

  • Rigo

    Thanks for bringing this series back , it’s a fun way to learn
    Can that phrase be used by males ?

    • Well, man can also use the expressions but the expressions ending with -니 sound girly. 🙂

  • benben yoon

    나는 머리 왜 이러니.

    맞아요? ^^

    • 내 머리는 왜 이러니. This is more natural.

    • benben yoon

      감사합니다. ^^

  • Tram

    Thank you so much for this post!!

    I was really excited to see that this series was revived again! I’m looking forward to some more!

    Using music is not the best way to study a language but it does help us learn how to recognize the Korean used as we listen to it, so technically speaking it helps our listening skills. =)
    But then again, all this time I thought Ailee said “Wait hunny, Wait hunny” whenever she said, “왜 이러니,왜 이러니”. LOL It made sense to my ears and brain because she had started with “Wait a minute, wait a minute”…unless I heard that wrong too!!! lol.

    But now I can totally hear her say, “왜 이러니, 왜 이러니 자꾸 똑같은 말”.

    정말 감사합니다!!

  • Deidrea

    Thank you for bringing back this series! I was trying to translate Kpop songs to learn some new vocabulary words, but Google Translate isn’t very helpful. 감사합니다!

  • Laura Handayani

    Do you know J Rabbit?
    Please do one of their songs!!

    *Is J Rabbit considered K-pop though? :p

  • Sasipa

    ‘보고싶다…나 왜 자꾸 이러니? 헐….’

  • 그 사람한테 연락 아직도 안 왔네! 왜 이러니?? ㅠㅠ

    (이 노래 소개해 주셔서 고맙습니다! 에일리 너무 좋아요.^^)

  • Agata

    Hi! I’ve heard the phrase “아무렇지 않게” in a couple of songs, for example Shinee’s “Hello”, Beast’s “Fiction”, Kim Sunggyu’s “I Need You” or FT Island’s “지독하게”. What does it mean?

    • Andrei

      From what I can tell, it takes the meaning “as if nothing happened”, “as if it were nothing”, “as if it’s ok”.
      In one the grammar lessons on “아무”, the expression “아무렇지도 않다” is translated as “to be alright” so I guess that’s where it comes from. 🙂

  • Jake

    So, as a man, what can I say instead of “니”?

    Also, would the more formal version be “왜 이래요”?

    She can sing, but jeez, that chorus is such a ripoff of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”.

  • Ashley

    “왜 이러니 자꾸 똑같은 말?”

    This line is translated to “Why do you keep on saying the same thing over again?” 맞아요? ^^

    • It will be better to say “왜 자꾸 똑같은 말 하니?”.

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