In English, as in some other languages, saying the word “please” is one of the few ways to make you sound more polite and respectful, aside from adjusting your tone.  Koreans use a whole gamut of various verb endings to express politeness and respect, as many of you already know.   Dictionaries define “제발” as “please,” but unlike in English, you don’t say 제발 just to be polite, as in “Please take a seat.”  

The meaning of “제발” is rather closer to “I am begging you” or “I implore you,” and you can say it with sincerity when you are really desperate, or in need of someone’s help in an urgent situation.  

Watch how a top professional singer 이소라 finishes her famous song titled “제발”: 

Watch how she couldn’t start singing the same song in a live concert some 20 years ago.  She wrote the lyrics herself:  

When the song is too beautiful and too personal, it seems that even top singers can’t hold back their own tears on stage, regardless of which country or culture: 

Musik sollte Feuer im Herzen eines Mannes anzünden und Tränen in die Augen einer Frau bringen.

Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of woman.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)

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