A relatively simple song, “First Love” was composed by Kim Dongryul for Exhibition’s third album, Graduation, summoning the end of Kim Dongryul’s collaboration group with Seo Dongwook. Wikipedia claims that the track was fittingly composed by Kim Dongryul when he was fourteen years old. Kind of like “That Day from Long Ago,” “First Love” has a pensive quality in its prolongation of certain lyrics that conveys the thoughtful, reasoned reflection of the speaker on his past.

Despite having worked on three different translations this week, I couldn’t find one that I was confident I could express clearly enough to publish, so I began to translate this song. Not to undermine the elegance and insight with which this song demonstrates the feelings of a first love, I was able to translate it with relative ease in its repeated use of simpler syntax, which may or may not be intentional in illustrating the more foolish and simplistic thoughts that characterize a first love. On another hand, perhaps I found these lyrics rather straightforward because compared to the three others that I worked on, I have listened to this song somewhat consistently over the past few weeks and months.

Korean:

더 높게 보이고
더 크게 보였지
내가 아닌 마음에
난 눈물을 흘리고
잡을순 없었지
가까이 있지만
숨겨진 네 진실을
난 부를순 없었지
볼수는 없었지
마음 깊은 곳까진
언제나 한발 멀리서
그냥 웃기만 했어
추운날이 가면
알지도 모르지
겨울밤의 꿈처럼
어렴풋하겠지만
잊을 순 없겠지
낯익은 노래처럼
바래진 수첩속에
넌 웃고 있겠지
잡을순 없었지
가까이 있지만
숨겨진 네 진실을
난 부를순 없었지
볼수는 없었지
마음 깊은 곳까진
언제나 한발 멀리서
그냥 웃기만 했어
추운날이 가면
알지도 모르지
겨울밤의 꿈처럼
어렴풋하겠지만
잊을 순 없겠지
낯익은 노래처럼
바래진 수첩속에
넌 웃고 있겠지

English Translation:

It looks [like it’s going] higher
It looked larger
Not I, but in my heart
I’m crying
I couldn’t hold on
Even though [she] was close
I couldn’t call/summon
your hidden sincerity
I couldn’t see
The deepest place[s] in [your] heart
As [you] always drew one step away
[I] just smiled
As the cold days pass
Unknowingly
Like a dream from a winter night
It might become indistinct, but
I won’t be able to forget
Like a familiar song
In [my] fading notebook
You’re probably smiling
I couldn’t hold on
Even though [she] was close
I couldn’t call/summon
your hidden sincerity
I couldn’t see
The deepest place[s] in [your] heart
As [you] always drew one step away
[I] just smiled
As the cold days pass
Unknowingly
Like a dream from a winter night
It might become indistinct, but
I won’t be able to forget
Like a familiar song
In [my] fading notebook
You’re probably smiling