HANRORO’s (한로로) “The last stop of our pain” is a love letter with many lovers.

It’s a love letter to herself, to someone lost, to the New Year, the many who are just struggling to make it to the next, and even to Time itself.

I know – it’s a big claim.

But this is the kind of thing I’ve come to expect from songs that begin almost hymn-like, sparse, and building for awhile before a powerful drop. Each instrument joins in at the new verse like another loved one grabbing her hand to stand against the great, invisible force of inevitability.

I’ll stop everything
Even my despair and hope
when another me comes
so that you can rest comfortably

Even the triangular wheels
Handles missing screws
Even blinking traffic lights
in the end everyone is alive

HANRORO’s voice, at first resigned, grows with a sense of desperation. She expresses her desire to arrive at the next year and lay all her, and her subject’s, pain down there. No matter the obstacles – triangles for wheels, missing screws. Just as long as we all get to next year alive.

Even in the cold summer
Even the crying autumn
I can’t leave behind the bruised winter

I want to hug you
Even if there is no love to greet
It’s warm in this empty place

The drums roll in. The pacing of the song brings us into the trial with her, where each leg requires motivation and rallying. HANRORO herself says the song is about waiting for a bus that doesn’t come, always trying to catch up on your own life.

“Despair, hope, love, hate. It’s ironic that these days filled with things that cannot be mixed are grouped together under only one ‘year’. After brushing off the snow accumulated in my heart, I finally stand up. Sit in the driver’s seat. I run to myself again next winter who will be waiting for this bus.”


At no point does she belt, but the high peel of her voice rumbles into the heart as fully as a winter chill through what you thought was your thickest coat, the instrumentals rise in loudness almost as if a blizzard sent to drown her out.

I want to leave a lot behind
Even your love and hate
when we meet again
to hold you completely

buried under emotions
All the regrets
disappear in the wind

But ultimately HANRORO makes it. With joy, with pain, with longing, with resentment – with every messy, mixed bag we each carry into the New Year and try to leave behind. And like her, we hope for some grace of synchronicity to put us at the same stop as the ones we love. We run to meet them, and to meet the person we’ll become.

When everything inside of me melts
When invisible things bloom one by one
When the blooming breath is not lonely
Will you stand up at that time?

It may be a depressing interpretation of the song, but it made me think of the people I’ve had to leave behind. Who never made it to the next stop, no matter how much I tried to put off getting back on the bus and wait for them to arrive. The day I listened to it was the birthday of my best friend’s brother, who she lost two years ago. It made me think of my dad, who I lost a few years back, my grandma, even my childhood dog.

I know – a bummer. But there was beauty and healing and catharsis under those somber reminders. There are those moments where we get the opportunity to step outside of Time. It may all be in our heads, in false Divinity, in delusion, but sometimes our anxiety to keep going forward falls flat at the desperation to go back and we run, run, run, run back the way we came and see, for one warm, real moment, a memory that we can never leave behind.

A person who, although they can’t meet us at the stops ahead, is still somewhere in the road before, waving and wishing us well.

And it’s a comfort, for me at least, to imagine that the stop I left them at was the last stop of their pain. Like HANRORO, I’ll carry my own baggage so I can meet myself next year, because that darned mixed bag of emotions also includes so much love. And no matter how bitter the chill, soon that difficult walk will silently bloom into spring, and new life.

With a voice of angelic quality, and lyrics of profound simplicity and honesty, I’ll be listening to HANRORO for some much needed comfort. I hope you’ll join me.