I love 49 Days! It’s actually a pretty crazy show, but man, if it isn’t entertaining, I don’t know what is! But anyway, as I was watching episode 17 this week, I noticed several scenes that would have been perfect to use as examples for some of the topics that have already been covered or that will be covered in the future for the blog’s Korean language and culture series. So as opposed to doing a conventional episode recap, I thought it would be helpful for the drama fans to highlight those scenes from episode 17 here, and explain any language/cultural aspects of them that are likely to get lost in translation.
After seeing Yi-kyung take off in a taxi, Kang realizes what this may mean for Ji-hyun. He runs around the neighborhood screaming Ji-hyun’s name at the top of his lungs, but that is when he suddenly remembers the phone number listed on the cab that Yi-kyung took. He gets in his car and frantically calls the taxi company to ask the destination of the passenger earlier, making up a story about how the passenger was his terminally ill wife who ran away to die alone and now he must go find her before it’s too late.
But the word for “wife” Han Kang used here was a rather interesting word choice. As opposed to the more commonly used words for wife, such as “boo-in” (부인) or “ah-nae” (아내), he calls her “manura” (마누라). “Manura” is technically defined as a way to call one’s own middle-aged wife, but it is sometimes used by younger husbands as well when referring to their wives playfully or coarsely.
I pondered over how I would personally translate “manura” into English because “wife” did not seem to capture the essence of the original word used. I thought of “wifey”, but then decided to check how my Korean-English dictionary translated it. I almost died laughing when I saw that it translated it into “missus.” OMG, it’s sooo perfect!
So when Han Kang says “Nae manura went to die” in the clip above, it’s equivalent to him saying, “My missus went to die.” See what I mean by things getting lost in translation if it was merely translated as “wife”?
After finding Yi-kyung on the train and convincing her to come back, Kang waits outside her house while Yi-kyung and Ji-hyun’s soul talk things through. When Ji-hyun (in Yi-kyung’s body) returns back out to him, she speaks to him in the haeyoche speech level (see how her sentences end with “yo”). Noticing this, Kang tells Ji-kyung, “Drop the ‘yo.’ Didn’t we agree to speak casually to each other?” In other words, he is suggesting that they speak in the haeche speech level (a.k.a. “banmal”).
Ji-kyung explains that she’s afraid she might make a mistake (i.e., take on her own true identity as Ji-hyun if she gets too relaxed). So they agree to Ji-kyung’s wish to speak in the haeyoche speech level. Notice all the “yo” endings during that short exchange!
In contrast, when In-jung comes to see Yi-kyung, she is fully convinced that Yi-kyung is truly Ji-hyun. In-jung comes in to the house and talks in the haeche speech level from the get-go. At this, Ji-kyung (who is pretending to be Yi-kyung) retorts back, “You shouldn’t speak in ‘banmal’ to someone you don’t know.”
Anyway, back to the scene between Ji-kyung and Kang where they agreed to speak in the haeyoche speech level to each other. At Ji-kyung’s insistence, Kang leaves. But after Kang leaves, Ji-kyung softly whispers, “Gomawuh, Kang-ah.” (Translation: “Thank you, Kang.”)
Two things to note:
1. Unlike when she was talking to Kang earlier, Ji-kyung speaks in banmal here. Notice the absence of “yo” at the end of gomawuh.
2. “Ah” is attached at the end of Kang’s name as an exclamatory particle. In other words, Kang is being directly addressed.
However, when Kang is being referred to in a conversation and not directly addressed, the particle “yi” is used instead. Did you catch that Ji-hyun referred to Kang as “Kang-yi” here?
Here’s a common mistake made by many folks.
1. I love you, Kang-ah! (Correct)
2. I love Kang-ah. Isn’t he great? (Wrong)
In this case, it should be: “I love Kang-yi. Isn’t he great?” (Correct)
Now that Yi-kyung, Ji-hyun, and Kang have joined forces, they succeed in preventing the bankruptcy of Ji-hyun’s father’s company. Elated, the two lovers are about to go for a hug, but Ji-kyung stops in her tracks when she recalls the Scheduler’s warning not to engage in any skinship while in Yi-kyung’s body.
Disappointed himself, but also understanding of Ji-kyung’s situation, Kang jokes around and calls Ji-kyung “Song Yi-kyung noona” because she’s one year older than him. Not wanting to be a noona to him, though, Ji-kyung retorts back, “Do you think I want to be a noona to you… to someone who’s more of an oppa than any Oppa.”
Okay, that message was loaded, but we’ll save that discussion for the future!
So in closing, seriously, watch 49 Days now! What are you waiting for?!