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"Go and tell them!" Lee Aeran returns to spotlight with hit new song

"Jeonhaera!" (전해라!) is the imperative command, "Go and tell them!" It has grown into a catchphrase across modern Korean society since the end of last year. This order, an old-fashioned turn of phrase that would only have been used by some aristocrat of the past commanding around his servants, sounds quite odd to the modern ear. In short, "Jeonhaera!" is not actually the kind of phrase that would be used by normal people these days.

The somewhat old-fashioned or outdated command has gone viral, however, thanks to a song called "A Centennial Life," or "Baekse Insaeng" (백세인생).

The song "A Centennial Life" has finally brought fame and fortune to Lee Ae-ran (이애란), a singer that no one has really heard from over the past 20 or so years. The song has gained great popularity starting in the end of last year, particularly with the lyrics' repetition of the command "Jeonhaera!" The lyrics are a witty display of the singer's strong will for life. The speaker in these lyrics rejects death, singing how "I won't leave" this life, naming all the different reasons why.

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Lee Ae-ran speaks with the Mumhwa Ilbo on Jan. 6. Her recent hit "A Centennial Life" has gone viral as a nation-wide meme.



The song and the singer first rose to attention online. Lee Ae-ran, singing "A Centennial Life" on TV, was caught on film and these captured images with the lyrics at the bottom of the screen went viral via instant messaging apps. The lyrics' imperative command, using an outdated, old-fashioned but decisive tone, worked well with the younger generation's sense of humor. On Monday mornings, they shared images of her singing with the subtitles saying, "Go and tell them I won't leave!" as they struggled to get to work or school on time and to leave the cozy warmth of home. As the images and the lyrics quickly went viral, the singer sent a note of gratitude to the very first creator of the meme, an otherwise unknown university student.

The song is now loved not only for being a funny online meme, but for being a good song in and of itself. The lyrics show some authenticity and a will for life, and also reflect the life challenges that the singer has faced, such as 20 some odd years of obscurity and family members' illnesses. All this has, ironically, made the song even more touching.

What Lee has shared in interviews about her life is a train of challenges. In 1990, the young woman sang for the soundtrack of one of the then most popular TV shows. The singer believed that her career as a singer was guaranteed, but her luck didn't continue and life wasn't easy for her. In 2006, she at last released her first solo album. She thought her dreams would finally come true, but all she faced was a tough reality. She had to throw away the remaining, unsold stock of her album with her own hands.

For a performer traveling around the nation, a financially comfortable life is almost always a fantasy. However, reality for this singer was even harsher. Her youngest sibling was diagnosed with leukemia. Her debt grew. Still, though, she never gave up on one thing.

"I couldn't give up singing, even though I gave up on my dreams of becoming a 'real' singer. I decided I would sing for the rest of my life, even though I would never be recognized as a singer by the public," she said in one recent interview. That thing upon which she never gave up, in the end, has now brought back to reality her forgotten dreams. Now, she is a singer.

She says she feels rich now, though she hasn't made a huge fortune, and that she has received many requests to sing on stage. "I don't expect or want my life to change quickly. I've waited for this moment for 25 years. Slowly, I want to appreciate this moment, slowly."

Lyrics of "A Centennial Life" (Baekse Insaeng, 백세인생)

If the other world calls me at the age of 60,
Go and tell them I won't leave! I'm too young to go.
If the other world calls me at the age of 70,
Go and tell them I won't leave! I got things to do.
If the other world calls me at the age of 80,
Go and tell them I won't leave! I'm yet useful as a person.br> If the other world calls me at the age of 90,
Go and tell them I'll leave, but only when I want to!
If the other world calls me at the age of 100,
Go and tell them I'll be there, but at the time and day I choose!

Arirang Arirang Arariyo.
Crossing again over the Arirang Hills.

If the other world calls me again at the age of 80,
Go and tell them I won't leave! I'm too young to be called again.
If the other world calls me again at the age of 90,
Ask "Again?" Go and tell them I'll be there!
If the other world calls me again at the age of 100,
Go and tell them I'm looking forward to my afterlife in heaven!
If the other world calls me again at the age of 150,
Go and tell them I've already arrived in heaven!

Arirang Arirang Arariyo.
I hope everyone lives a healthy life.

By Chang Iou-chung
Korea.net Staff Writer
Photo: a screen capture from Munhwa Ilbo
icchang@korea.kr

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