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In Sunmi's Who Am I, the first words of the song are

애써 아무렇지 않은 척 / 쿨한 척 센 척은 필요 없어

which is apparently translated as "You don't need to pretend nothing's wrong, you don't need to pretend to be cool". So I'm inferring 애써 아무렇지 않다 is a phrase to mean nothing's wrong. However, I cannot figure the meaning from 애써 (dictionaries give 애쓰다 'make an effort to achieve something') and 아무렇다 ('being in an indefinite condition or situation'). I cannot figure out the meaning of the phrase from its components, so what I ask is how should I properly understand it. Feel free to correct any mistake I made.

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You're confused because you parsed it wrong: it's not "(애써 아무렇지) 않은 척", but "애써 (아무렇지 않은 척)".

아무렇다 behaves somewhat similarly to English "any" - it's usually used in negation (아무렇지 않다), which means "not particularly/visibly affected" or "feeling OK", i.e., not feeling particularly angry, hurt, tired, etc.

So 아무렇지 않은 척 means "pretending to be OK" or "pretending that [you] are not hurt".

애써 is from 애쓰다 as you noticed: it means "deliberately", or "with effort".

Combining together, 애써 아무렇지 않은 척 means "deliberately pretending to be OK" or "taking effort to look like you are OK" (when, in fact, you are not).

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  • So, does 애써 works as an adverb? – Jairo A. del Rio Feb 24 at 20:00
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    It's an adverbial form of the verb "애쓰다", so yes, it behaves as an adverb here. In fact, the form 애써 is common enough that it may be useful to consider it its own word. – jick Feb 24 at 20:03
  • Nice. It makes sense now. Thank you, btw – Jairo A. del Rio Feb 24 at 20:03

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