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Suga Drops Some Major Truth Bombs In His “Haegeum” Lyrics

It’s officially D-Day, ARMYs, as Suga aka Agust D has released his title track, “Haegeum,” along with the accompanying music video, and the album D-DAY. My corny puns aside, Agust D’s “Haegeum” lyrics and meaning have shocked fans. Suga is no stranger to addressing serious and philosophical subjects in his songs, like in his vulnerable pre-release hit “People Pt. 2” featuring K-pop star IU or the lyrical storytelling about his family life and personal hardships in D-DAY’s “AMYGDALA.”

In “Haegeum,” Suga discusses issues like finding liberation from selfishness and the harmful influence of others on our self-expression. A haegeum is a classic two-stringed Korean instrument that resembles a fiddle. As IU points out in an episode of her talk show, IU’s Palette, the Korean word haegeum may also imply “lifting a ban” and “allowing something that was forbidden.” If you’re curious about all of the lyrical messages, here are Agust D’s “Haegeum” lyrics in English, explained — and some of the words genuinely speak to the heart.

“Haegeum” is all about following your own views and objectives.

Suga was featured on Episode 19 of IU’s Palette where he described the meaning behind the title. “The word haegeum came to me. When I was young, I played rhythm games,” he shares. “I love playing rhythm games. When beating a certain stage you would unlock a forbidden song, then you could play a new rhythm. It was ‘freedom from [the] forbidden.’ Why don’t I break free from those things?”

In the opening line and throughout the song, he echoes the concept of breaking free from metaphorical bonds. “This song’s a haegeum, yeah / Get on board now, yeah / This lively rhythm / Perhaps, this could be a new kind of haegeum,” according to an English translation shared by Genius. The lyrics allude to the haegeum being characterized as an instrument and how the song’s rhythm might convince listeners to follow their own beliefs and objectives. 

In the same episode of IU’s Palette, Suga mentioned that while working on the song “Daechwita,” the title track from his second Agust D mixtape, D-2, he downloaded a variety of Korean traditional instrumental sources and eventually wrote the beats for both “Daechwita” and “Haegeum” while playing with the sounds.

Suga distinguishes between free expression and damaging rhetoric.

Continuing on in the first verse, Suga raps, “Interpretation is free for all / Out with the nonsense / Freedom of expression / Could be reason for somebody’s death / Could you still consider that freedom?” The lyrics underline that everyone has the right to an opinion, but when that idea or expression may cause harm to someone, he challenges whether that interpretation is actually liberating for all. Suga emphasizes the necessity of being conscious of your interpretations and, before spreading negativity or destructive rhetorics, you must be considerate of who it may be affecting. 

In the pre-chorus, he repeats the concept of refraining from destructive speech with the line, “This song’s simply about freeing what’s forbidden / But you must remember to differentiate freedom from self-indulgence.” The lyric highlights the need to express your thoughts and beliefs, but without allowing your freedom of expression to become a fixed mindset that leaves you uninterested in the perspectives of others. Suga reinforces that freedom also entails utilizing your own judgment rather than following the majority.

Suga examines the media’s role in freedom and self-expression.

Suga confronts and tackles the subject of the media influencing the opinions of others through the line, “Endless influx of information prohibits freedom of imagination, and seeks conformity of thought / All these painful noises blind you, and / Now it even infringes on freedom of thought.” The lyrics demonstrate the concept of dominant ideologies. Dominant ideologies are characterized in communication studies as “shared ideas or beliefs [that] serve to justify the interests of dominant groups,” according to OpenLearn. 

Please bear with me as the communications major in me begins to clarify: If you’re unfamiliar with this ideology, it’s primarily assumed through hegemony, which refers to the superiority of a dominant group’s ideology over that of minority groups.

When a dominant group shares the same ideology, the minority is usually overshadowed, allowing the ideology to appear as a general norm or practice. The lyrical concept Suga is attempting to convey is that the media is the dominant ideology and that the constant dissemination of information through platforms such as social media hinders creativity and expression of thought. 

Suga echoes this message by a direct call out directly following in the lines, “Really, what is it exactly that’s been restricting us? / Maybe we do it to ourselves / Slaves to capitalism, slaves to money / Slaves to hatred and prejudice / Slaves to YouTube, slaves to flexin’ / Selfishness and greed have gone off the rails.” The lyric is a chance for us fans to reflect on what elements may be restricting our perspective and fueling division. Suga bravely tackles today’s hustle culture, demonstrating that perhaps the dominant ideology isn’t only coming from the media, but is also a part of ourselves. 

Suga doesn’t want us to feel completely hopeless in the face of liberation’s shackles, as he says in the final verse, “Don’t get swept away by this tsunami of info / ‘Cause we all differentiate freedom from self-indulgence.” We all have the power to understand the true meaning of freedom — it’s just up to us not to be consumed by it.

Siobhan Robinson is a member of the Her Campus national writing program. She works on the Entertainment and Culture team, covering the most recent pop culture events, trends, and entertainment releases. Previously, she worked as an Entertainment and Culture intern during the Spring 2023 semester, where she was supervised in writing breaking news verticals, live coverage of events such as the Grammys and Met Gala, and interviewing emerging Gen Z talent for Her Campus's "Next Questions" segment. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in Spring 2024 with a B.A. in Communication Studies from San Jose State University and received communication honors for completing a graduate-level course during her undergraduate studies. While in college, she was an active member of the SJSU chapter of Her Campus, serving on the executive board as Editor-In-Chief. In this role, she supervised a team of writers, senior editors, and copy editors, and assessed their articles for the site. Previously, she served as a senior editor, supervising a team of 4-5 writers, and also worked as a campus correspondent for the entire chapter. Additionally, she contributed to the school's publication magazine, Access, and became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. In her free time, Siobhan enjoys scrapbooking, hanging out with friends, going to concerts, and, of course, writing for fun! A die-hard fangirl, she loves sharing everything she knows about her favorite boy bands, even if you don't ask. If you need her, you'll likely find her binge-watching the latest K-drama or catching up on pop-culture social commentaries on YouTube.