Road to Seoul
(서울로 가는 길)

performed by
Yang Hee-eun (양희은)
lyrics and music by
Kim Min-gi (김민기)
year released
1972
album
Yang Hee-eun's Collection of Beautiful Songs 2
(양희은의 고운 노래 모음 2), 1972
서울로 가는 길
Road to Seoul

우리 부모 병들어 누우신 지 삼 년에
My parents bed-ridden with illness for three years
뒷산의 약초 뿌리 모두 캐어 드렸지
Gave them all the herb roots pulled from the back hill
나 떠나면 누가 할까, 늙으신 부모 모실까
With me gone, who's going to take care of my old folks
서울로 가는 길이 왜 이리도 멀으냐
How come this road to Seoul is taking so long

아침이면 찾아와 울고 가던 까치야
The magpie that comes by squawking every morning
나 떠나도 찾아와서 우리 부모 위로해
Keep coming to give them consolation while I'm away
나 떠나면 누가 할까, 늙으신 부모 모실까
With me gone, who's going to take care of my old folks
서울로 가는 길이 왜 이리도 멀으냐
How come this road to Seoul is taking so long

앞에 가는 누렁아, 왜 따라 나서는거냐
The brown doggy running before me, why are you out
돌아가 우리 부모 보살펴 드리렴
Go right back now, be nice and look after my parents
다 떠나면 누가 할까, 늙으신 부모 모실까
With me gone, who's going to take care of my old folks
서울로 가는 길이 왜 이리도 멀으냐
How come this road to Seoul is taking so long

좋은 약 구하여서 내 다시 올 때까지
Until the time I come back with some good medicine
집 앞의 느티나무, 그 빛을 변치 마라
The oak tree out in front, you be good and stay green
나 떠나면 누가 할까, 늙으신 부모 모실까
With me gone, who's going to take care of my old folks
서울로 가는 길이 왜 이리도 멀으냐
How come this road to Seoul is taking so long
서울로 가는 길

우리 부모 병들어 누우신 지 삼 년에
뒷산의 약초 뿌리 모두 캐어 드렸지
나 떠나면 누가 할까, 늙으신 부모 모실까
서울로 가는 길이 왜 이리도 멀으냐

아침이면 찾아와 울고 가던 까치야
나 떠나도 찾아와서 우리 부모 위로해
나 떠나면 누가 할까, 늙으신 부모 모실까
서울로 가는 길이 왜 이리도 멀으냐

앞에 가는 누렁아, 왜 따라 나서는거냐
돌아가 우리 부모 보살펴 드리렴
다 떠나면 누가 할까, 늙으신 부모 모실까
서울로 가는 길이 왜 이리도 멀으냐

좋은 약 구하여서 내 다시 올 때까지
집 앞의 느티나무, 그 빛을 변치 마라
나 떠나면 누가 할까, 늙으신 부모 모실까
서울로 가는 길이 왜 이리도 멀으냐

Road to Seoul

My parents bed-ridden with illness for three years
Gave them all the herb roots pulled from the back hill
With me gone, who's going to take care of my old folks
How come this road to Seoul is taking so long

The magpie that comes by squawking every morning
Keep coming to give them consolation while I'm away
With me gone, who's going to take care of my old folks
How come this road to Seoul is taking so long

The brown doggy running before me, why are you out
Go right back now, be nice and look after my parents
With me gone, who's going to take care of my old folks
How come this road to Seoul is taking so long

Until the time I come back with some good medicine
The oak tree out in front, you be good and stay green
With me gone, who's going to take care of my old folks
How come this road to Seoul is taking so long
Yang Hee-eun's original release
songwriter Kim Min-gi's own version

Another Yang Hee-eun song composed by Kim Min-gi, it is about a fictitious man (or woman) who is trying everything he can to help his ailing parents. He is setting off on the road to Seoul in search of medicine that might cure them. He is in a hurry and can't waste any time but the road to Seoul seems to be too long and slow.

Just as every road went to Rome once, so it went to Seoul for Koreans for the past six centuries. People of all walks of life had to leave their hometown and go to Seoul for reasons as varied as you can imagine. Sometimes it was with a sweet dream for a better future, as in the case of bight students going there to study under a renowned teacher or school, but more often it was with the fear of entering a vast, unknown and hostile world. At the end of their rope, many had to set out on the road out of desperation, because that was where the action was, the place that offered any new possibilities, however unlikely. More often than not it was to escape from the all-familiar devil of poverty, which seemed to grab you by the neck and drag you around. The phrase road to Seoul has thus been a heavily nuanced one to many until recently, with associations of both good and bad kind.

Apart from the subject matter, the arrangement of rhythmic folksy guitar and flute backings is one of a kind, evoking something very Korean despite the fact that those instruments being hardly Korean in their origin.

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Yang Hee-eun (양희은)

Folk singer with a resonant contralto voice who has been a major figure in Korean folk music since the 1970s.

Kim Min-gi (김민기)

Singer-songwriter famous for such seminal works of the 70s and 80s as Morning Dew (아침 이슬) and Evergreen (상록수)