Category Archives: translating French while intoxicated

Hm, let’s see what that article actually said


Apparently K-Con France did get a story in Le Monde, which is great. (There were also stories outside of the K-Pop/Asian press here and here–people seemed to like Block B, anyway.) The picture and the caption are of Block B, so that’s nice, although they are not mentioned in the article itself.

In fact, the article talks almost exclusively about BTS, so AllKPop decided to put up an article saying that La (sic) Monde had named BTS the most popular K-Pop group in France–wow!–and that French students were missing their baccalauréat to see them! Which, as many commenters noted, would be quite the feat given the baccalauréat’s actual schedule, and uh, yeah, Lalalalalalala Monde didn’t actually say that about BTS–or at least Le Monde did not. (There’s also a lot of squabbling in the comments–guys, you are arguing over something that is not real. You can plug “un groupe de hip-hop de sept garçons qui comptent parmi les grandes stars du moment de la scene locale” into frickin’ Google Translate and get a more accurate understanding of what was said than what AllKPop gave you, OK?)

Of course, none of that has prevented the AllKPop story from being parroted in other outlets, because copy/paste journalism is the best journalism there is!

So, in the spirit of encouraging people to look at source material (please!!!), why don’t I take a crack at translating that Le Monde article from the French?

(I know I’m pushing the “while intoxicated” thing–I didn’t get much sleep, and I’ve had a lot of coffee? Or maybe I’m just high on life.)

Anyway, here goes:

K-Pop Has Landed in France

Caption: The South Korean group Block B during their concert at the Bercy June 2, 2016

Never mind their oral English baccalauréat tomorrow, Laurine and Mallorine could not fail to attend the most important K-Pop event organized in Europe. They were already happy to have been able to get tickets for K-Con, held in Paris on Thursday, June 2, which is happening alongside South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s visit. Since 6 am the two 17-year-old high-school students have been waiting in front of the L’AccorHotels Bercy Arena to make sure that they would benefit from an entire day dedicated to the popular culture of the Land of Morning Calm.

Neither of them has ever set foot in South Korea, but they know all the boy bands. They are especially eager to hear BTS, an acronym for Bangtan Sonyeondan, literally “Bulletproof Boy Scouts,” a hip-hop group of seven boys that at the moment is one of the great stars of the local scene.

Caption: K-Pop fans at the concert at the Bercy June 2, 2016

Fans All Over the World

They come from all four corners of France, as well as Europe, for some hours of Hallyu, the South Korean pop wave, which has long been popular among the youth of Southeast Asia and China. Ordinary people only know Psy and his “Gangnam Style,” whose YouTube video made fun of the superficiality of some of Seoul’s youth. But these days K-Pop has true fans even in this corner of the world.

For Shin Hyung-kwan, president of the division in charge of these types of shows for CJ, one of the giants of the South Korean pop industry, there is no doubt that there is a market to seduce in Europe. “We must continue to work for recognition, but there is clearly demand. 10,000 seats were sold within three hours, and we had no doubt that there would be fans,” says Mr. Shin.

Orchestrated Marketing

The two groupies, who like many others wear sweatshirts with the BTS logo, know everything about the commercial side of boy bands. Marketing is cleverly orchestrated, details Laurine Sigot. First an online rumor, then a “teaser” and photos that appear a few months before the unveiling of a new group.

She nonetheless appreciates this foreign culture and hopes to go on a tour of South Korea when she can. “It’s vibrant music, it makes you want to dance. Some lyrics are simplistic but others are really dreamy. Some make you cry and others put you in a good mood,” confides the young woman. Backstage, the seven striking boys are already ready for the concert, during which they will succeed other names also completely unknown to the novice French person: f(X), SHINee or I.O.I.

The origins of BTS are not at all natural, the biggest star of the group, Rap Monster, age 21, birth name Kim Nam-joon, freely acknowledges, after which the manager still questions the propriety of answering the question. Everything is tightly regulated, and ever since they were assembled by a promoter in 2013, the young singers/dancers can hardly deviate from the script.

“The label had a new concept for a rap-influenced group. They held several rounds of auditions and kept the seven best,” says Rap Monster, his hair bleached with a touch of gray-green. He adds, “It was destiny.”


That’s the article. If you’re hoping for more factory-music stereotyping, I’ll translate the one (pretty fucking hysterical) comment!


An unappeasable industry, without fault, without soul, without moral rules other than those of the producer: Cash, it’s invested and should be recouped as soon as possible, never mind about the talent, no matter the method, the physical (training) and moral consequences to the exploited, the “artists” come last….



Have another petite traduction….


Another bitty translation! I’m just translating the French subtitles here–and because I’m taking cold medication, I am technically intoxicated, so the tag still works!


Caption: A suspicious box containing something from KCON

Block B is in the room

Park Kyung: Oh! What’s that?

P.O: What’s this thing here? Oh, it’s a box! White box!

B-Bomb: KCON box!!

P.O: You know, we started our “Toy” comeback at KCON

Caption: The best performances

As intended, there is a close relationship between Block B and KCON

Peek-a-boo ♥

P.O: Ah, there, there, what’s that there? It’s an adorable bee~

Caption: KCON BOX Object No. 1

A bee plushy

B-Bomb: Super! Our fan clubs is the BBCs.

Caption: Nickname of Block B’s fan club = bees

A bee + blond hair => foreign fans?!!

P.O: It’s too cute!

U-Kwon: What’s next?

Zico: I think they’re trying to give us clues.

U-Kwon: It’s a cock?

Caption: KCON BOX Object No. 2

A cock

B-Bomb: Is it Kyung?

Caption: He who resembles a cock is too embarassed

Park Kyung: When I made a video, people said that this is what I looked like.

Does it look a lot like me?

B-Bomb: I know that it’s a symbol of a country.

Jaehyo: I think I know.

Park Kyung: Isn’t it a country in Europe?

Jaehyo: I think France is the cock….

Caption: The cock = the animal that symbolizes France

Block B’s intelligent Jaehyo

Park Kyung: Keep going! What else is in there?


The Eiffel Tower

Block B already knows everything

The puzzle was too easy….

KCON 2016 France

Park Kyung: I personally got very close to a French minister on Twitter.

All: WOW~ [Plus an untranslated “Oh, really?” from U-Kwon]

P.O: I was the only one to shake hands with the president!

Caption: He cannot hide his expression of pride

The last item, what is it?

U-Kwon: What was it?

Zico (reading card): For the first time, KCON, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary, will be in France!

Caption: Hello Hello

Park Kyung: June 2, 2016, Paris, France, KCON will be held at the Accor Hotel Arena!

B-Bomb: Everyone! That’s going to happen in 15 days!

Caption: KCON 2016 France D-15!!

Taeil: We invite you to have crazy fun with Block B in France!

[They sing the chorus of “Nalina,” which means “Crazy, crazy, go crazy.”]

P.O: Please look forward to our performance! See

All: you soon!

ETA: BeeSubs has translated the Korean!

* * *

ETA: While I’m at it, I’ll throw in a little explanation of why the V App translator repeatedly confused “BBC” with “B-Bomb” here.

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 10.20.06 AM

So, you have to start with how they pronounce “BBC,” which is not bi-bi-si but rather bi-bi-shi. (Why? Look here.)

Then look at B-Bomb’s Korean name, which is pronounced bi-bum. 

Tack on the honorific -씨, which is pronounced –shi, and you have the translator confusing bi-bi-shi and bi-bum-shi, which is a lot more understandable than confusing the English.

Although he did seem to ignore the -들/-deul ending, which is used to indicate that you’re talking about more than one BBC. So, not a stellar job, but not a mind-blowingly awful one either.

Oh my God, c’est drôle


I learned French in high school–and I mean, I really learned it, I was basically fluent–but the intervening, uh, TWO DECADES of living in the United States has meant that, aside from the occasional intervention between a French tourist and an English-only ATM, I’ve never used it. So let’s just say that I am fluent no more.

Buuuut…it’s all in there, somewhere. I lived with a host family for a month, and the parents spoke zero English, and they came to visit about 10 years ago when I was living in NYC. Oh shit, oh shit, I thought, and then I watched a bunch of French movies, and voila! I was able to converse with them in French, et il n’avait pas de problem.

Allllllll in there, somewhere.

One thing that helps is un petit peu du vin, so (for science!) I’ve consumed some vin ordinaire de Washington, and I’m watching that Le Petit Journal piece again.

Oh la vache!

So, starting at the nine-minute mark: The joke in general is that French President François Hollande is completely tech-adverse and tragically unhip, so he’s visiting a Korean tech incubator, and it’s all meaningless magic to him. Technocrap, whatever–Hollande don’t know and don’t care. He’s just checking the boxes here because it’s his job.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 11.08.41 AM

Announcer (in a bored tone): So, he saw the plastic arm, the watch, the supersonic mask, and he goes on to the new Internet platform for music fans [MyMusicTaste]. OK, he’s going.

Subtitles of Hollande: Nice to meet you!

Announcer: He visits them, too.

Subtitles of off-screen person: Block B

Announcer: I’m guessing this guy here [P.O, heh] is the creator of this software. A moment of flattery.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 9.55.23 PM 1

Subtitles of Hollande: Have courage! (i.e. Good luck! or Work hard!) Please come to Paris!

Announcer: There you go.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 11.01.17 AM

Subtitles of off-screen person: Could we have a photo, Mr. President?

English off-screen: Can we take a picture?

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 11.01.20 AM

Announcer: A photo in front of the software, and that’s that, and we continue the visit around the room.

Subtitles of Hollande: Thank you very much!

Announcer: Except that the most interesting thing in this picture is maybe not the software. It just might be the line of people in front of the television. [This part I can’t get, except that I think he’s saying this would be the important bit to Koreans.] Block B. That’s who those guys are. Block B. Here’s who they are.

[Clip from “Very Good”]

Announcer: They’re the big noise in K-Pop these days. But K-Pop–Korean pop–is not just about music. That’s what Francois Hollande didn’t understand there–he wasn’t well briefed. What is K-Pop?

[K-Pop clips]

Announcer: It’s Korean boy bands, or with women, girl groups, who do catchy songs about love. There are somewhat powerful solos as well–watch out for the solos. There can be bad boys, you see. Oooh, those bad boys! If you don’t speak Korean, don’t worry, in K-Pop, you understand what you want to understand. [singing along] Marseille Marseille yeah! Marseille Marseille Marseille yeah!

[Camera returns to him]

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 9.56.59 PM 2

Announcer: Marseille Marseille Marseille yeah! OK, let’s skip over that bit. So, yes, sometimes the lyrics are simple. For example, this one’s about having a cold. The title of the song is [laughs] “Ah-Choo.”

[Clip from Lovelyz’ “Ah-Choo.” Yes, this is a real song.]

Announcer: There! She sneezed, and that was the song. But K-Pop is nothing to sneeze at.

[Clip of dancing]

Announcer: Last year, according to The Economist, overseas fans spent five million dollars on K-Pop, and Korea hopes to double that the figure by mid 2017. Like it or not, it is a multi-billion dollar industry. Concerts, exports, merchandise, CDs–K-Pop rules over all of East Asia, and Ségolène Royal is ready to throw down. There was a meeting between two pop groups.

[Block B clip plays]

The K-Pop group, and the . . .

[Clip of Royal with the French delgation]

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 9.58.04 PM

F-Pop group!

Here’s a video of the face-off. F-Pop singer Ségolène Royal starts off with, [in bad English] “I take a picture?”

[Clip of Royal asking to take a picture]

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 9.58.14 PM

And presto, a picture! She immediately put it on social media. We could tell there was something going on between the K-Pop group and the F-Pop group!

Subtitles of Royal: They’re handsome!

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 4.58.32 PM

Announcer: The K-Pop group and Ségolène Royal looked at each other like dogs on chains, and one of the members with peroxided hair even stared at Ségolène Royal up and down.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 10.06.05 PM

What he was looking at surprised me. He saw her jacket! Oh well, it’s not a bad jacket to use in the next clip. And we’ve found that jacket. [Shows K-Pop clip] We can definitely agree that it’s the same! It’s super K-Pop! We’ll continue with the F-Pops at the K-Pops!

P.S. Feel VERY free to augment and correct this translation in the comments. Trust me, I will not mind. ETA: Thank you chocobodear!