The English word “wonder” as a verb has such a wonderful meaning: to be curious, to want to know.  In Korean, the same act of “wondering” is expressed with a specific ending “…ㄴ지” of a subordinate clause which precedes main verbs such as 알다 (to know), 모르다 (to not know), or 궁금하다 (to be curious): 

  • 너는 정말 괜찮은지 알고 싶어 = I want to know if you are really okay. 
  • 그가 날 사랑하는지 몰라 = I don’t know if he loves me or not.

In past tense, the ending conjugates into …ㅆ는지.  Such a sentence is often used to express reminiscence of all things past, when you contemplate your past experiences and personal events, often in a deep conversation with a close friend: 

  • 왜 그렇게 힘들고 또 아팠었는지 (몰라) = I wonder why it was so difficult, and so painful.
  • 지금 생각하면 내가 그때 왜 그랬는지 (몰라) = In retrospect, I wonder why I did so at that time. 

In the lyrical ballad below, 김동률 intentionally omits the main verb 몰라 in several lines ending with …ㄴ지.  It has effects of rhyming and accentuating a sentimental atmosphere, as if the singer was writing or speaking to his old love or a friend:

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