6 English phrases from K-pop songs to level up your writing

  • Idioms used by Blackpink, BTS’ J-hope and Nmixx can add a little pop and creativity to your writing
  • The world is your oyster with these fun phrases
Sue Ng |

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“But mum, I’m not just watching Blackpink videos - I’m practising my English!” Photo: YouTube/Blackpink

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about K-pop? Good-looking idols, powerful choreography, outstanding fashion, and catchy songs have all helped Korean pop music conquer the world. But the adoption of English lyrics has also played a big part in expanding K-pop’s audience.

Here are six English expressions from K-pop hits that will take your writing to the top of the charts.

9 idioms from hit songs to help you raise the bar on your English writing

1. Be in the bag

Meaning: to be certain you will get or achieve something. The idiom appears in girl group (G)I-dle’s 2022 rap song “My Bag”, which showcases their desire to remain true to themselves and follow their own path, without caring what others think.

Example: After passing the final round of interviews, Martin believes he has the job offer in the bag.

2. Fight tooth and nail

Meaning: to try very hard to get something you want. J-Hope, a member of South Korean supergroup BTS, uses the idiom in his latest single “On the Street”, a heartfelt reflection on his career. Released on March 3, J-Hope’s collaboration with American rapper J. Cole was his way of giving fans a parting gift before beginning his mandatory military service.

Example: The workers fought tooth and nail to keep their jobs during the pandemic.

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3. The world is your oyster

Meaning: to do or go where you want. Girl group Le Sserafim uses the expression on “Fearless”, the first track of their debut album, singing: “The world brings out my flaws/ I want to take up the challenge/ I am fearless/ The world is my oyster.” The phrase – and the song – show their dedication to becoming a global girl group.

Example: Mark graduated from an elite university and got a great job this year. The world is his oyster!

4. Roll the dice

Meaning: a risky attempt to do or achieve something. The idiom appears in Nmixx’s 2022 song “Dice”, which encourages people to “roll the dice”, take chances and live their lives to the fullest, even though life is not an easy game.

Example: If you are new to investment, you should not roll the dice by putting all your savings in.

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5. Russian roulette

Meaning: to take very serious risks with something important. Russian roulette is a lethal game, and the phrase was used as the title of Red Velvet’s 2016 hit to talk about the thrill of a relationship. The song compares love to a game of chance as the feelings experienced can be intense and dangerous, and you don’t always know if the risk will pay off.

Example: Don’t cross the road when the traffic light is red. You are playing Russian roulette with your life!

6. Set in stone

Meaning: to be very difficult or impossible to change. In Blackpink’s 2020 hit song “Lovesick Girls”, the idiom appears in the lyrics “No diamond rings, that set in stone/ To the left, better left alone” to express their pain over a break-up while questioning why they would still look for love despite feeling that they were “born to be alone”. The phrase is used to describe a situation they cannot change.

Example: After winning so many global music awards, the group’s success has been set in stone – no one can question their world dominance.

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