I Do Care (About Money) – A Song Translation Project

“I 돈 Care” is a song by comedy group “The Brave Guys.” That “돈” part of the song title means “money” in Korean and is pronounced “don,” which is close enough to “don’t” to make the whole thing a nerdy, bilingual pun. It is legitimately a funny song, and I’m aware that nobody in Korea takes it seriously, but I want to translate and explore it here because I think there are some hidden depths.

“I 돈 Care” is different from many songs in that it has a definite plot and four distinct characters. There’s a main character, a rapper who performs the verses and acts as the hero, the main character’s mother and the main character’s girlfriend who both chip in during the verses and, finally, a pop idol starlet type who sings the chorus and comments on the events – the structure is very similar to an old school Greek drama.

The plot goes as follows: The main character is kind of a slob, seemingly in his 20s or early 30s, who went on a bender and decided to take a taxi home. When he and the driver arrive at home, he realizes he’s lost his wallet. Lacking any money with which to pay the cabby, our hero calls his mom.

The mother answers, finds out how much the taxi fee is going to be, briefly scolds our hero for his recurrent money problems. Then, suddenly, she remembers that she’s never had a son and decides that our hero has called the wrong number.

Our hero reckons with the darkness of a future without booze or cigarettes. Of secondary importance, he speculates that it’s also unfortunate his mother has disowned him. Thankfully, he remembers the love of his life, a wonderful woman who understand his deepest feelings and lives just one house away from mom – the girlfriend.

“Darling,” he says. “Don’t misunderstand me. Sweetheart, it’s just that I’m right next to the house and I don’t have the money to pay the cab driver.”

The beloved asks how much our hero’s short. He says that it was $35 dollars originally but, with the delays, it’s probably $55 or so now. After a deep meditation of at least a tenth of a second, the beloved one declares herself the hero’s ex-girlfriend.

Our hero thinks again about how dark a world it would be without booze and cigarettes. Desperate, he lists the ways he might restore those necessities. A job delivering milk might pay $300, working part time at a convenience store might net $600 or he might even become a “carparazzi” (a sort of traffic vigilante who gets paid for reporting and documenting illegal driving for the police) but the registration fee to become a traffic vigilante is $20,000.

So far, so funny. Mom and the girlfriend are masterpieces of brutal self-interest, our hero is a massive slob and a simple lost wallet has somehow caused a family disavowal, the end of a relationship and the permanent cessation of booze and cigarette consumption. The sound effects and voice acting are also comic gold.

And then we get to the end of the song where the hero reflects on the bigger picture. We learn that you’ve got to bite and claw to get money, because if you don’t, people will stop loving you. We learn that you’ve got to have money because without it, dignity just doesn’t work. We learn that the egalitarians and compassion mongers – they’ve got their eyes close and ears plugged. It’s almost like we’re not worth that much unless we can contribute.

This overblown, cynical picture is funny because, in my experience at least, it’s not that cynical or overblown.



Clearly serious business.

Original lyrics in this link. Below is my translation:

Chorus:

Show me the money

Without money everything is foolish in this world

Give me the money

All you’ve got to do is pay some money and everything’s possible in this world.

Verse:

On a drunken night I take a taxi home

When I arrive there’s alarms for two messages ringing in my ears

It’s too late when I realize I don’t have my wallet

In a desperate voice I call my mom

Mother’s voice: “Hello?”

Hero: Mom!

Mother’s voice: “Oh, my son!”

Hero: Mom, it’s just that I don’t have enough money for the cab.

Mother’s voice: “How much is it?”

Hero: I’m short about $35.

Mother’s voice: You’re short again?

Hero: Mom, I’m almost to the house, I need to pay soon.

Mother’s Voice: Well stranger, you clearly have the wrong number. (Hangs up)

Hero: Mom!?

Chorus:

Show me the money

Without money everything is foolish in this world

Give me the money

All you’ve got to do is pay some money and everything’s possible in this world.

Pockets empty, pockets empty.

Checked my back pocket, I’ve got a dime.

Savings account’s screwed, screwed, screwed.

Collect no interest, screwed, screwed.

Booze and cigarettes no more, no more

Life is nothing but money

Verse:

Mom’s disowned me. Money, money, that jerk Mr. Money!

Well, moving on from Mom, I think of another.

The one who knows my heart, it’s her.

I’ll go to you.

Hero to cabby: Sir, please turn the car around.

(Calls girlfriend)

Girlfriend: Hello?

Hero: Sweetheart.

Girlfriend: Hey papi!

Hero: Please don’t misunderstand me, sweetheart.

Girlfriend: What’s the problem?

Hero: Right now I don’t have money for a taxi so I’m headed to your house.

Girlfriend: You are not coming to my house. How much do you need?

Hero: It was $35 but now it’s more like fifty fi –

Girlfriend: We’re no longer a couple.

Chorus:

Pockets empty, pockets empty.

Checked my back pocket, I’ve got a dime.

Savings account’s screwed, screwed, screwed.

Collect no interest, screwed, screwed.

Booze and cigarettes no more, no more

Life is nothing but money

Verse:

It’s because of that bastard Mr. Money, anywhere I go it’s that bastard Mr. Money

A person’s life is a problem of time but

It’s because of that bastard Mr. Money, anywhere I go it’s that bastard Mr. Money

People bite and gnaw

We fight to live because of money

Close both eyes

See the world you want to see

Block both ears

Listen to the world you want to hear

Chorus:

That’s true but I can’t be that way

Never you

(Hero: Why never me?)

Never

Verse:

Sweat even on the bottoms of my feet

Milk delivery job, $300

Convenience store part time job, $600

Carparrazzi, five bad drivers caught but …

Registration’s $20,000?!

Bigger than not just my belly, but my bellybutton, the world is my money, my money!

Chorus:

Each breath

Money decides whether you breathe it or not

Lift your head

Get that money and you don’t have to kneel

Make do with your body, make do, make do

(Hero: Break your bones if you can’t make do)

Endure the hustle, hustle, hustle

(Hero: If I half-ass it we both die.)

Go, live in the world.

(Hero: It’s all my money, my money.)

If you enjoyed this article, please consider buying the author’s books:
The Potency!: Garrido, Ben: 9781943588565: Amazon.com: Books
The Blackguard: Garrido, Ben: 9781939051745: Amazon.com: Books

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